New research shows fish oil, vitamin D may not be worth it

Omega 3 oil supplement pill glows yellow

Between two and three serves of fish per week as part of a heart-healthy diet is also advised. Researchers defined serious heart problems as the combined rate of heart attacks, stroke and heart-related deaths. The study involved 26 thousand people, it lasted more than five years.

Doctors have been keenly interested in learning the supplements' true value, given their tremendous popularity with patients.

When scientists compared groups who were administered placebo with those who took Omega 3 fish oil, overall, they found no evidence that marine fatty acid supplements lowered the incidence of major cardiovascular events or cancer any better than placebo for most participants.

Results from both clinical trials were to be presented Saturday at the American Heart Association's annual meeting, in Chicago, and will be published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Nearly 26,000 adults, 50 years and above, took part in the trial funded by National Institutes of Health. This amount is equal to one or two of the vitamin D pills typically sold in stores. In a tropical country like India specifically, vitamin D deficiency has lead to alarm bells being raised and vitamin D testing has become routine.

Manson's study also tested vitamin D, which the skin makes from sun exposure.

"It gives me hope that in the future if I can't prevent a heart attack I might be able to prevent a second one", Mr Smith said.

"The REDUCE-IT trial sets a new standard of care for patients who have elevated triglycerides and are at increased cardiovascular risk despite statin therapy", lead researcher Dr. Deepak Bhatt, executive director of interventional cardiovascular programs at Brigham and Women's Hospital, said in hospital news release.

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But she doesn't see her study as entirely negative.

In a first analysis focusing on the effects of Omega 3 supplements, 386 major cardiovascular events were reported in participants after a follow-up of about five years, compared to 419 events in the placebo group. But large studies that directly test the benefits of vitamin D and fish oil in supplement form have given inconsistent results.

Manson notes that a deeper look into the data suggested possible benefits.

In addition, the collective odds of having a heart attack, stroke or death from any cardiovascular cause were essentially the same whether people were taking fish oil or placebo. As for vitamin D, it appeared to reduce cancer deaths - although not cancer diagnoses - by 25 percent.

However, African-American participants derived the greatest benefit from taking Omega-3 supplements, and showed a 77 percent reduction in heart attacks, regardless of their level of fish consumption.

Experts agree that vitamin D is important for bone health. Vitamin D had no effect on heart disease, but influenced the decrease in mortality from cancer. With high doses of vitamin D, there can be a risk of high blood calcium levels developing. They reduce triglycerides and inflammation and may have other effects.

For those with a family history of cardiovascular disease, lowering the risk of heart attack and stroke is vital.

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