By Ernie Mundell
FRIDAY, November 13, 2020 (HealthDay News) – Millions of people take a fish oil or vitamin D supplement in hopes of staving off a variety of diseases. However, a new study found that the nutrients did not protect against the common and potential heart rhythm disorder known as atrial fibrillation.
“A-Fib” affects approximately 2.7 million Americans and can lead to complications such as blood clots, stroke, and even heart failure. The risk of A-fib increases with age, high blood pressure, and heavy alcohol consumption, and may be more common in some families.
The study results “do not support the use of marine omega-3s or vitamin D to prevent atrial fibrillation,” said lead author Dr. Christine Albert. She is the founding chairman of the cardiology department at the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
On the other hand, “the results indicate that these supplements do not increase the overall risk of atrial fibrillation and appear generally safe for patients taking these supplements for other reasons,” Albert said in a press release from the Heart Association.
Your team presented the results today at this year’s virtual annual AHA meeting.
According to the researchers, previous research has unequivocally answered neither the benefits nor the disadvantages of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids in relation to A-fib.
This five-year study included more than 25,000 adults age 50 and older with no history of A-fib. It was investigated whether vitamin D3 supplements of 2000 IU / day or 840 mg / day omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of developing a cardiac arrhythmia.
During the study, 3.6% of the participants developed an overall A-fib. However, there was no statistically significant difference in the risk of a-fib between people taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements and / or vitamin D3 supplements and those taking placebo.
Dr. Mitchell Weinberg is the Chair of Cardiology at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City. He was not involved in the new research but said the results were “unsurprising”.
Weinberg believes that many people place too much hope in the power of dietary supplements to improve their health.
“The idea that taking more of a certain vitamin will extend your life or provide significant additional health benefits is very appealing to the health-conscious patient,” he said.
“While a number of benefits have been attributed to these two supplements, the scientific evidence is not strong enough to support routine high-dose supplementation,” added Weinberg.
“While vitamin D is important for bone health, the claim that vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes is not very convincing,” he said. “Likewise, the beliefs that omega-3 fatty acids lower triglycerides, reduce inflammation, and decrease mood-related disorders are without sufficient evidence.”
Weinberg’s advice: “For now, patients should focus on eating healthy, exercising regularly, and consistently consulting a doctor.”
Since the new results were presented at a medical meeting, they should be considered tentative pending publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
For more information on a-fib, contact the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
SOURCES: Dr. Mitchell D. Weinberg, chairman of the cardiology department at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City; American Heart Association, press release, Nov. 13, 2020