Are omega-3 supplements as useful as researchers once believed? Not when it comes to inflammation, suggests a new study.
Share on PinterestOmega-3 supplements are not as beneficial to health as people once thought.
Recent studies show that taking supplements to increase vitamin D and omega-3 levels may not reduce systemic inflammation.
The new study, which was based on the VITAL study, aimed to determine the biomarker levels of several inflammation indicators in people who take or not take vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid supplements or fish oil.
After 1 year, the study found no significant difference in the values between the two groups.
Dr. Karen Costenbader – the director of the lupus program in the Department of Rheumatology, Inflammation, and Immunity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA – is the study’s co-author.
The results are now appearing in the journal Clinical Chemistry.
Inflammation is an important prognostic marker for various life-threatening conditions – especially those associated with aging and obesity.
These include cardiovascular disease, heart failure, osteoporosis, some neurodegenerative diseases (including Alzheimer’s), diabetes, and some cancers.
Many people use vitamin D supplements and fish oil to reduce systemic inflammation and prevent such conditions from occurring.
However, the researchers behind the new study found that neither vitamin D nor fish oil can reduce systemic inflammation, and in some cases, markers of inflammation were actually higher in people who took these supplements than in people who didn’t.
Dr. Costenbader and his team studied interleukin 6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor receptor 2 (TNFR2) and highly sensitive C-reactive protein (hsCRP).
Individually, these markers play a central role in the onset of inflammation. The ability to detect elevated levels of these markers in the blood can be a prognostic tool to inform health professionals about a person’s level of inflammation.
Many people take vitamin D and fish oil supplements and believe that they can help reduce inflammation. However, it can be difficult for health professionals to determine how to advise their patients about what supplements to take and what dosages are best.
This is because there is a lack of clinical trial data to inform treatment. The VITAL study aimed to provide the clinical data needed to help healthcare professionals better inform their patients.
The ongoing VITAL study is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in which researchers are looking at the effects of vitamin D, omega-3, or both on blood levels of IL-6, TNFR2 and hsCRP.
For this study, participants took 2,000 international units of vitamin D, 1 gram of omega-3, or both per day. Some were given a placebo instead.
The scientists took an initial measurement at the beginning of the experiment, which they compared with measurements made a year later.
In the future, this study will also examine the effects of supplementation on the risks of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
The results showed that after 1 year of taking these supplements, blood levels of one type of vitamin D (25-OH) and one type of omega-3 (n-3 FA) in those who took the supplements rose 39% and 55%, respectively. were higher compared to those who took a placebo, for whom the changes were minimal.
This indicates that the participants’ bodies successfully ingested the supplements.
Surprisingly, IL-6 levels were 8.2% higher in those who took vitamin D supplements.
HsCRP levels were 35.7% higher in people with lower baseline vitamin D levels, suggesting that those who take supplements because they have low levels of vitamin D may actually increase their levels of this particular marker of inflammation.
Among those who received omega-3, hsCRP levels decreased in those with lower baseline n-3 levels, but not in those with higher fish oil intake.
In conclusion, for over a year of the study, neither supplement lowered biomarkers for inflammation.
“While the bottom line is that we didn’t see any reductions in markers of inflammation in those who took both supplements, we’ve seen the people taking their fish [oil] Intake was low at baseline and resulted in a decrease in one of the inflammation biomarkers. “
DR. Karen Costenbader
“It will be interesting and important to see the results of future VITAL analyzes, especially those that address disease risk rather than biomarkers.”
Although these results do not suggest any clinical benefit from supplementation in reducing systemic inflammation, there were a number of limitations to the study.
For example, the cohort was a small snapshot of the first recruits; The team only tested 1,500 out of a potential 25,000. Had the cohort been larger, the results might have been clearer.
Also, they only tested one form of vitamin D and one form of omega-3. Other formulations of these supplements might be more effective in reducing systemic inflammation.
For these reasons, further research is needed.
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