Researchers are again questioning the benefits of Omega-3 fish oil and vitamin D supplements for quelling inflammation.
Both supplements are widely consumed for existing health ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases; as well as for preventing obesity, heart disease, cancer, osteoarthritis and Alzheimer's disease. Vitamin D is used to boost immunity; especially for people that don't get enough sunshine.
Researchers now say neither one of the supplements showed any benefit for inflammation in an analysis of a much larger study.
But before you dump your supplements, read on. This isn't exactly the final word.
Here's what researchers did find about Vitamin D
Vitamin D might actually be harmful to the body and increase inflammation - based on at least one blood indicator of systemic inflammation. The three markers tested included interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-receptor 2, and high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP).
For this analysis the researchers looked at the three blood indications of inflammation among people who had been taking either the supplements or a placebo for one year.
The finding was part of the VITAL study - that stands for VITamin D and OmegA-3 Trial
A surprise finding was that participants taking vitamin D actually had an increase in IL-6 of 8.2 percent. IL-6 is associated with the type of inflammation seen with obesity and is released in response to stress hormones.
A drawback of the study is that only 1500 of 25,000 participants were analyzed so far.
The researchers also noted that only one formulation of vitamin D and omega-3 supplements were used. The supplements were vitamin D3 (2000 IU) or omega-3 fatty acids (Omacor® fish oil, 1 gram).
Karen Costenbader MD, MPH, director of the lupus program in the division of rheumatology inflammation and immunity said in a press release:
"In this case there isn’t a strong message that either supplement will reduce risk of systemic inflammation, at least not the biomarkers of the disease."
Another finding was that participants who weren't eating much fish had a lower hsCRP level.
Costenbader said it will be interesting to analyze future results that measure risk of diseases instead of just blood tests.
If you’re confused about whether you should take vitamin D or fish oil supplements the best advice is to speak with your doctor who is probably as confused as the rest of us at this point.
The research just might indicate we’re wasting our money taking vitamin D and fish oil supplements, but only more studies will let us know for sure.
Read: Balancing Omega-3, 6 fatty acids changes gene expression
If you're taking vitamin D because your doctor has tested you and your level is low, it's important to continue.
The finding is published in Clinical Chemistry.
If fish oil is doing something for you like lowering your triglyceride level or helping your arthritis pain you certainly wouldn't stop taking it. Do you take supplements? What are your thoughts?