Vitamin D & Omega 3-s (fish oil) are my two favorite supplements.
Researchers have been singing the praises of vitamin D & fish oil for years now--and the evidence keeps piling up.
Now finally, we may (or maybe not) get some answers, when a new randomized controlled study of 20,000 men & women is completed. Are these truly "miracle supplements" or are we just wasting our money? This new study is set to begin in January 2010 & run for 5 years.
One big problem: The study is recruiting women over age 65, and men over age 60! That seems to be a continuing problem with these studies. They start out with too old of an age group and they run for too short of a time to really give us good information. Remember what happened with the Women's Health Initiative?
Dr. Christopher Gardner of Stanford University is usually skeptical of this sort of study. To be valid, such a trial would have to run for 40 years, because that’s how long it takes to develop a chronic disease, like cancer, heart disease & diabetes.
Dr. Walter Willett, the prominent Harvard nutritionist
& epidemiologist notes that it can take many years for nutritional
benefits to show up. In the Physician’s Health Study,
one of the longest running randomized studies, the cognitive/memory
benefits of beta-carotene supplements did not show up after even 12
It took 18 years of taking the supplements for the brain benefits to show up!
According to Dr. Michael Holick, one of the foremost authorities on vitamin D, infants who are deficient in vitamin D never attain genetically preprogrammed bone density or height. And the risk of multiple sclerosis increases from a cumulative childhood deficiency of vitamin D. We all know that heart disease, stroke & cancer take years to develop. Running a study that last only 5 years, on men and women over age 60 & 65 seems like a case of TOO LITTLE TOO LATE.
Here's the Press Release:
Massive vitamin-D/omega-3 trial for CVD, cancer prevention
June 29, 2009 | Shelly Wood
Boston, MA - A massive, National Institutes of Health-sponsored study looking at whether vitamin-D and/or omega-3 fatty-acid supplementation can reduce the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, or cancer will get under way in January 2010, according to a website for the study. Drs JoAnn Manson and Julie Buring (Harvard Medical School/ Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA) will head up the Vitamin D and Omega-3 Trial (VITAL).
The study is aiming to enroll 20 000 men and women, one-quarter of whom will be black. According to a Brigham and Women's Hospital press release, the study is intentionally aiming to illuminate a potential racial and ethnic disparity hypothesized to be linked to vitamin D . "African Americans have a higher risk of vitamin-D deficiency as well as a greater frequency of diabetes, hypertension, and certain types of cancer," a press release notes. For VITAL, women need to be over age 65 to enter the study; men need to be over age 60.
Study participants will be randomized to one of four groups: daily vitamin D (2000 IU) and fish oil (1 g); daily vitamin D and fish-oil placebo; daily vitamin-D placebo and fish oil; or daily vitamin-D placebo and fish-oil placebo. The trial will run for five years and is expected to cost US $20 million.
- Brigham and Women's Hospital. Largest study of vitamin D and omega-3s set to begin soon at Brigham and Women's Hospital [press release]. June 23, 2009. Available here.
Gwen Mergian, who writes a blog called: Healthy Habits: Better Nutrition and Better Health for the Albany Times Union just blogged about my What The Experts Say About The Side Effects of Statins. What Are They? What Causes Them? Who Is Most At Risk? How Are They Treated? post, written on June 27th.
Thanks so much, Gwen! You can read it here. Gwen is a nurse who completely changed her diet & exercise habits when she discovered she had dangerously high cholesterol levels and did not want to go the statin/medication route. She writes an inspiring commentary about her experiences living the "healthy life". And yes, she lowered her cholesterol to amazing levels through an almost vegan low fat diet, ala Dr. Dean Ornish--and she's reaping the benefits.