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Vitamin D, Fish Oil Supplements Taken on in Large Study

Posted: July 29, 2009

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20,000 people to be studied

The new study, which will start later this year, will enroll 20,000 people with no history of heart attacks, stroke or a major cancer—women 65 or older and men 60 or older. They will be randomly assigned to take vitamin D, fish oil, both nutrients or dummy pills for five years.

The daily dose of vitamin D will be about 2,000 international units of D-3, also known as cholecalciferol, the most active form. For fish oil, the daily dose will be about one gram—five to 10 times what the average American gets. Participants' health will be monitored through questionnaires, medical records and in some cases, periodic in-person exams. "We're hoping to see a result during the trial, that we won't have to wait five years" to find out if supplements help, Manson said.

Researchers also plan to study whether these nutrients help prevent memory loss, depression, diabetes, osteoporosis and other problems, Buring said.

The $20 million study will be sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and other federal agencies. Pharmavite LLC of Northridge, California, is providing the vitamin D pills, and Ocean Nutrition Canada Ltd. of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, is providing the omega-3 fish oil capsules.