Dr Zoe reveals which supplements to take
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Their study, published in the JAMA Network Open journal, monitored 25,000 adults over 50 years old for five years from all 50 US States. Three quarters of this group took supplements once a day while the other quarter didn’t use them at all.
What they found was shocking to the researchers. At the end of the five year period there was little to no discernible difference between those who had taken the supplements and those who had not.
In their conclusion, they wrote: “In this ancillary study of the VITAL randomized clinical trial, treatment with vitamin D3 or omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, compared with placebo, did not affect the rate of frailty change or incidence over time.
“These results do not support routine use of either vitamin D3 or omega-3 fatty acid supplementation for frailty prevention in generally healthy community-dwelling older adults not selected for vitamin D3 deficiency.”
The team have said Americans over the age of 50 should drop the pills which they now describe as “unnecessary” and focus on other ways to maintain overall health such as exercise and eating plans such as the Mediterranean diet.
This comes as companies behind these supplements – and make significant profits from them – claim they can slow age related muscle loss and reduce inflammation. This paper, and the lack of scientific evidence, undoes this theory.
Study lead Doctor Ariela Orkaby said: “We should consider deprescribing unnecessary pills, and instead promoting healthy lifestyle habits. Regular exercise and the Mediterranean diet are proven strategies for prevention of frailty and should be encouraged for all older adults.”
Meanwhile, epidemiologist Doctor Joann Manson added: “These new findings from VITAL are an important reminder that dietary supplements are not miracle pills or elixirs of youth.”
Although the data suggests these pills are ineffective at reducing the risk of frailty and its associated ramifications, this does not mean they are entirely useless. However, these benefits were not studied as part of the paper.
Vitamin D and omega-3 oils are still essential vitamins for the body and deficiencies in either can prove highly detrimental. Vitamin D, for example, is key to strengthening the immune system while omega-3 helps maintain neurological health.
While these are known quantities, one sphere of influence vitamin D has been placed under the microscope on numerous occasions is its impact on COVID-19. In the early stages of the pandemic it was believed to be a potential treatment for the virus.
However, this was soon disproved, but it hasn’t stopped scientists from investigating whether it could be of some use to patients.
A study published in the (BMJ) British Medical Journal sought to put this issue to bed and ascertain whether or not vitamin D could help reduce the incidence of COVID-19.
According to the report, boosting vitamin D levels during the pandemic was not associated with protection against COVID-19 or other respiratory tract infections. This was established through numerous trials; the first of these was conducted between December 2020 and June 2021.
This trial saw vitamin D have no impact on participant’s risk of COVID-19. Meanwhile, a second trial was conducted in Norway between November 2020 and June 2021, but this time using cod liver oil with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A alongside vitamin D.
As with vitamin D on its own, there was no difference or change in protection for the participants in the study. Despite this, the trials were not without their limitations.
Despite said limitations, vitamin D supplementation is still recommended between the months of September and April. This is because the body cannot produce the same levels of the vitamin it would normally develop during the summer months.
The NHS say a lack of vitamin D “can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and bone pain caused by a condition called osteomalacia in adults”. However, while getting too little vitamin D can be problematic, so too can getting too much.
If levels of the vitamin in the body are too high this can cause calcium to build up in the body which can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and heart.
The recommended daily dose for the adult is 100 micrograms, this may also appear as 4,000 IU on packaging. The best way to get the requisite vitamin D dose is through the diet.
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