Ten percent of the population in North America is reported to take both a fish oil and vitamin D supplement on a regular basis. We, too, have frequently pushed the importance of both of these supplements for good health.
But, in the name of being balanced, I wanted to report about a new study that was recently presented at an American Heart Association conference and published in the New England Journal of Medicine (https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1809944) that is trying to prove us all wrong!
The research makes the bold claim that neither fish oil nor vitamin D—when taken by healthy people—is linked to lower rates of either cancer or heart disease.
(However, high doses of prescription fish in people with high triglycerides and other risk factors for heart disease DID, in fact, reduce the chances of heart-related death, according to the research).
The research included close to 26,000 healthy adults in the 50-plus category with no history of cancer or heart disease.
Participants were divided into groups. One group took 1 gram of fish oil and 2,000 international units of vitamin D daily, while another took the same dose of vitamin D plus a fish oil placebo. A third group took 1 gram of fish oil plus a vitamin D placebo, and a final group took two placebos.
After five years, the researchers concluded, when it came to cancer and heart disease, there was no benefit to taking either supplement.
So. Yeah. What do you think about that?
Here’s what I think: I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a moment…
The first thing that came to my mind was that the participants in the study only took 1 gram of fish oil per day, which I’d argue might not be a high enough dosage to receive many benefits. Check out our Fish Oil post here, where we discuss dosage (https://stoneagefuel.com/fish-oil-guide-better-heart-brain-health/).
To recap what we wrote about in our blog, one popular suggestion for figuring out how much fish oil you should take is as follows:
0.5 grams of EPA and DHA PER 10 POUNDS OF BODY WEIGHT. And if you’re recovering from an injury, are overweight, stressed out, not sleeping well or have a poor diet, this can even be upped to 0.75 to 1 grams per 10 lb. of bodyweight.
This means if you weigh 150 lb., then:
- Divide 150 by 10 = 15
- 5 g (of fish oil) and multiply that by 15
- 5 x 15 = 7.5 g
7.5 grams is considerably higher than the 1 gram of fish oil consumed by the participants in this study!
Second of all, while this new study might show there’s no link between fish oil in healthy adults and heart disease and cancer, as we have reported before, fish oil and vitamin D are linked to having health benefits beyond just cancer and heart disease. For example:
-Improve concentration and focus
-Improve bowel health.
And many people we know report it helps their athletic recovery at the gym (i.e. reduces DOMS).
-Help maintain healthy bones and teeth
-Support immune system health
-Support brain health
-Support nervous system health
-Help regular insulin levels
And, of course, there’s the whole sunshine vitamin thing. If you go months at a time in colder weather climates where you don’t see much sun, then it’s super important to keep getting Vitamin D in the winter. Often times, the only option is a supplement.
What do you think? Is this study onto something? Do you take fish oil? Vitamin D? Do you notice any benefits when you do?