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Vitamin D, Fish Oil Supplements Taken on in Large Study

Posted: July 29, 2009

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Cancer rates higher where sun is weaker

For years, evidence has been building that many people are deficient in "the sunshine vitamin." It is tough to get enough from dietary sources such as milk and oily fish. Cancer rates are higher in many northern regions where sunlight is weak in the winter, and some studies have found that people with lower blood levels of vitamin D are more likely to develop cancer.

Fish oil, or omega-3 fatty acid, is widely recommended for heart health. However, studies of it so far have mostly involved people who already have heart problems or who eat a lot of fish, such as in Japan. Foods also increasingly are fortified with omega-3, so it is important to establish its safety and benefit.

"Vitamin D and omega-3s have powerful anti-inflammatory effects that may be key factors in preventing many diseases. They may also work through other pathways that influence cancer and cardiovascular risk," Manson said.

However, getting nutrients from a pill is different than getting them from foods, and correcting a deficiency is not the same as healthy people taking large doses from a supplement.