Many studies have found a link between omega-3 and vitamin D consumption and a lower risk of autoimmune illnesses.
Recently, scientists from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston have conducted a large randomized controlled research to verify this association.
The results, presented at the ACR Convergence 2021 of the American College of Rheumatology, show that older adults who took omega-3 and vitamin D supplements over a period of 5 years lowered the risk of autoimmune illnesses by 25 to 30 percent, in comparison with those not taking them.
There were 25,871 participants in the project. 51 percent of them were women over 55 years old, while 49 percent of them were men over 50 years old. The average age was 67 years old.
The authors divided these individuals into 4 randomly allocated groups. Each group received a daily intake for more than 5 years of either:
– A placebo of vitamin D and 1 mg omega-3 supplement
– 2,000 IU vitamin D and a placebo of omega-3 placebo
– 2,000 IU vitamin D and 1 mg omega-3 supplement
– A placebo of vitamin D and a placebo of omega-3
The trial lasted between November 2011 and March 2013, while treatment lasted until December 2017.
The scientists measured the effect of omega-3 and vitamin D on the overall risk of autoimmune disease and individual autoimmune illnesses.
After analysis, they found that the risk of autoimmune disease was 25 to 30 percent lower in those who took omega-3 supplements, vitamin D supplements, or both, in comparison with those who only took placebos.
The effect of vitamin D3 seemed stronger after 2 years of taking supplements.
According to the authors, the lowered risk of polymyalgia rheumatica and rheumatoid arthritis plays an important part in rheumatology. The more pronounced effect after 2 to 3 years of use with vitamin D would support long-term use and make sense in terms of biology.
Both omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D may provide certain anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties. Therefore, the finding that taking vitamin D supplements, either in combination with omega-3 supplements or alone, lower the incidence of autoimmune conditions is biologically plausible and justifies further research. More importantly, the results are very exciting as there are currently no preventive approaches available to help reduce the overall risk of developing these severe health issues.