New study points to vitamin D, omega-3 supplements preventing autoimmune diseases

A new study has found that taking daily vitamin D and omega-3 or fish oil supplements may help protect older adults from developing autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, thyroid and other inflammation-based diseases.

Study author Dr. Karen Costenbader, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in the division of Rheumatology, Inflammation and Immunity and the director of the lupus program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, says people age 50 and older taking 2,000 IU (International Units) of vitamin D3 (2-3 times the recommended dose) for over five years had a 22% lower relative rate of confirmed autoimmune diagnoses.

CNN reported, “The study also found a possible link between taking 1,000 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acid (fish oil) and a reduction in autoimmune disorders, but the association was not statistically significant until possible cases of autoimmune disease — not just confirmed cases — were factored into the analysis.”

Costenbader warned against people upping their vitamin D doses on their own as the vitamin is fat-soluble and can build up in the body to toxic levels.

“I would say everybody should talk to their doctor first before taking 2,000 international units of vitamin D on top of whatever else you’re taking,” Costenbader said. “And there are certain health problems such as kidney stones and hyperparathyroidism (a rise in calcium levels), where you really shouldn’t be taking extra vitamin D.”

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