Taking supplements of vitamin D and omega-3 have been the subject of research studies looking at potential treatments for autoimmune diseases – such as arthritis. However, a recent study investigated the effects of vitamin D and omega-3 supplements on the risk of developing autoimmune diseases – to see if these supplements may be able to prevent the development of these diseases.
The study – called the VITAL trial – was carried out in the United States and included almost 26,000 people. The supplements that were evaluated were prescription grade supplements of 2000IU per day of vitamin D and 1000mg per day of omega-3 fatty acids. The researchers assessed each supplement on its own, as well as a combination of both. The researchers then followed up these participants for five years.
The study reported that people who took vitamin D supplements for five years had a 22% reduction in their chances of having an autoimmune disease. People who took omega-3 supplements had a smaller reduction in their chance of autoimmune disease by 15% – although this number was not statistically significant.
In fact, the study found that participants in any of the vitamin groups (vitamin D, omega-3, or both) had a lower incidence of confirmed autoimmune disease after five years.
The researchers suggest that the reduction in the incidence of autoimmune diseases may be because of the anti-inflammatory effects of these vitamins.
According to the researchers, “The clinical importance of this trial is high because these are well tolerated, non-toxic supplements, and other effective treatments to reduce the incidence of autoimmune diseases are lacking.”
Always speak with your doctor before taking any supplements to make sure they are right for you.
Reference: Hahn J, Cook NR, Alexander EK, et al. Vitamin D and marine omega 3 fatty acid supplementation and incident autoimmune disease: VITAL randomized controlled trial. BMJ. 2022;376:e066452. Published 2022 Jan 26. doi:10.1136/bmj-2021-066452
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