Vitamin D…Fish Oil Supplements…Are They Vital???
Though “vitamin” D and fish oil supplements are widely prescribed and consumed, there is no good evidence to support their use. The Cochrane Collaboration, known as the gold standard in independant review of health related scientific studies has reviewed both Vitamin D and Omega 3 (fish oil) supplements. Cochrane found inconclusive evidence to support use of Vitamin D for cancer prevention, increased bone density in children or cancer prevention. One small population of elderly womnen in long term care facilities experienced benefit (increased bone density) from vitamin D supplementation. The U.S. Preventive Services Task force recommends AGAINST supplementation with Vitamin D as a preventive measure. There was little to no effect on cardiovascular disease prevention for omega 3 supplements.
Findings released (Nov. 2018) from a more recent study support these findings. The VITAL (Vitamin D and Omega 3 Trial) was a long term study of vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acid (fish oil pills) supplementation on cancer and heart disease.
In 25, 871 adults monitored for about 5 years for the occurance of cancer and heart disease were compared to groups receiving placebo (sugar pill). To sum up the findings briefly:
Vitamin D supplementation did not reduce the risk of cancer or major cardiovascular events. There “seemed to be”a slight reduction of risk for cancer related death. Fish Oil supplementation did not reduce the risk of cancer or heart disease either.
Study authors state this is one of the longest studies of these supplements-but the extra time didn’t create any more positive findings…just confirmed that there is no good evidence to support or recommend vitamin D or omega 3 supplements as preventive measures.
Vitamin D is actually a hormone, not a vitamin. We produce this hormone by exposing our skin to sunlight or ultraviolet light. Our body can store vitamin d in fatty tissues in the body (like the liver and fat cells) so even if we live in places with long cold winters (like I do in the midwest!) we can still get enough “D”.
Omega 3’s are “essential” nutrients, which means our body does not make them, we have to eat them. We need them, but we don’t need LOTS of them. So what if we take in more than we need (megadoses anyone?)? Fats can oxidize, or go rancid…creating “free radicals”. Free radicals can contribute to cellular damage, aging, disease, even cancer.
Lastly, the human body is so exquisitley designed. Given whole foods, real food, the body can extract the exact amounts of the nutrients it needs on any given day. With some additional help of fresh air, sunshine, good sleep and meaningful relationships and purpose, we can thrive.
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references on request