- Previous research has noted correlations between vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and autoimmune diseases.
- According to the authors of a new study, there has been no large-scale randomized controlled trial to study the possible connections.
- The new long-term clinical study has now found that vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, or both reduce the risk of developing autoimmune disease.
Previous research has identified a correlation between vitamin D consumption and a reduced incidence of autoimmune diseases. The same goes for omega-3 fatty acid supplements of marine origin.
Now at the American College of Rheumatology’s Convergence ACR 2021, the researchers have present the results of the first large national randomized controlled trial examining the daily value of vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids or both supplements in the prevention of autoimmune diseases.
In the trial, taking vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid supplements for 5 years reduced the incidence of autoimmune disease in the elderly by 25-30%, compared with no socket.
Principal author of the research Dr Karen Costenbader, director of the Lupus program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, summarized for conference attendees the previous studies that led to the new trials.
When the human body is exposed to the sun, it produces vitamin D, which supports healthy teeth and bones. With less sunlight, the body may not produce enough vitamin D naturally. Research has linked vitamin D deficiency to a range of conditions.
“In previous ecological observations,” Dr. Costenbader explained to the conference audience, “inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis and type 2 diabetes have been shown to be more common in northern latitudes. , where circulating vitamin D levels are lower.
Conversely, she added, “a high plasma concentration of 25-OH vitamin D and high residential UV exposure were associated with a decreased risk of rheumatoid arthritis. [RA] among the women in the Nursing Health Study in our earlier work.
Regarding omega-3 fatty acids, Dr Costenbader said: “In previous observational studies, a lower risk of RA has been observed in people with increased consumption of fatty fish. “
Dr Costenbader also noted that in another study, “more [omega-3 (n-3)] proportion of fatty acids to total lipids in [red blood cell] membranes was associated with a lower prevalence of anti-CCP antibodies and rheumatoid factor, and a lower progression to inflammatory arthritis in healthy volunteers.
Dr Costenbader and his colleagues recruited 25,871 adults for the LIVESamine D and OmegA-3 TriaTHE (VITAL).
All of the men who participated were aged 50 or over. The women, who made up 51% of the cohort, were 55 years of age or older. The average age of the participants was 67 years old.
The researchers divided the participants into four randomly assigned groups, each of which received a daily allowance for 5.3 years:
- an omega-3 placebo and a vitamin D placebo
- 1 milligram (mg) of omega-3 fatty acid supplement and 2,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D
- an omega-3 placebo and 2,000 IU of vitamin D
- 1 mg of an omega-3 fatty acid supplement and a vitamin D placebo
The trial ran from November 2011 to March 2014, and treatment continued until December 2017. Participants reported autoimmune problems diagnosed by a physician as they arose. .
Researchers evaluated the effect of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids on autoimmune diseases in general and on individual autoimmune diseases.
In the final analysis, the incidence of autoimmune disease was reduced by 25-30% for participants who took vitamin D supplements, omega-3 fatty acid supplements, or both, compared to people who took vitamin D supplements, omega-3 fatty acid supplements, or both, compared to those who took took only placebos.
“The effect of vitamin D3 appeared stronger after 2 years of supplementation”, write Researchers.
“The reduced incidence of RA and polymyalgia rheumatica is very important for rheumatology,” explains Dr. Costenbader. “The more pronounced effect after 2-3 years of use with vitamin D makes biological sense and supports long-term use.”
Co-author Prof. JoAnn Manson summarizes the importance of research for Medical News Today:
“Vitamin D and marine omega-3 fatty acids have immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, our conclusion that vitamin D supplements, alone or in combination with marine omega-3s, reduce the risk of developing autoimmune disorders is biologically plausible and merits further study. The results are exciting because no other preventative therapy is available to reduce the risk of developing these serious health problems. “