Autoimmune diseases are a category of conditions where an individual’s immune system acts abnormally, often attacking and destroying healthy tissues by mistake. Many triggers can cause an individual’s body to start making components referred to as antibodies. Usually, antibodies help the body fight off infections. However, in patients with an autoimmune disease, they attack the body’s healthy tissues instead. These diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, or thyroid disease to name a few (possibly 80 of them) and usually affect women more than men. Symptoms vary, but can include pain, fatigue, skin problems, and other chronic conditions. A new study suggests that vitamin D and fish oil supplements may offer over 50 protection.
The study called the VITAL study was published Jan 26, 2022 in the BMJ and was a randomized controlled trial that included 25,871 racially diverse people over the age of 50 who were split into two groups. One group took 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 each day; those in another group took 1000 mg of fish oil and a third group took both. Another group took two placebos. The study was blinded – i.e. no one knew which group they were in.
“During a five-year follow-up, participants reported any diagnoses of any autoimmune disease that were verified with medical records.
Compared with a placebo, vitamin D supplementation was associated with a 22% reduced risk of autoimmune disease overall. The improvement was greater (39%) after the first two years of treatment. Fish oil alone showed less robust results, but still showed fewer participants with confirmed autoimmune diagnoses compared with placebo.”
Both vitamin D and fish oil may have some effects due to the ability of each to regulate or tame the inflammatory response that “drive autoimmune disorders.” It is too soon based on one study to make recommendations that people take either vitamin D or fish oil supplements – but those with a strong family history should consult with their primary health care provider about these decisions. The vitamin D dose used in the study is more than twice the recommended daily intake of 600 IU or 800 IU for people 71 and older. The consequences of overdoses or toxicity can occur at 10,000 IU daily.
Harvard Women’s Health Watch, Volume 29, Number 10 June 2022.
From the Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer from the people who’ve lived the longest by Dan Buettner, page xxii. “Scientific studies suggest that only about 25% of how long we live is dictated by genes, according to famous studies of Danish twins. The other 75% is determined by our lifestyles and the everyday choices we make.” What we drink is only one of them.
Adding more olive oil to your diet may help prevent an early death.
A recent study from the researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health was published online Jan. 10, 2022 by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Data from 90,000 men and women, free of cardiovascular disease and cancer were asked to complete a dietary questionnaire every four years. At the end of the data collecting, 36,856 of the participants had died.
From the diet questionnaires, it was found that those who routinely consumed the most olive oil – averaging more than one half a tablespoon a day – had the lowest risk of dying during the 28 – year old follow-up period compared with people who rarely or never consumed olive oil.
Olive oil consumers had :
A 19% lower overall risk of death
A 19% lower risk of cardiovascular disease
A 17% lower risk of cancer-related disease
A 29% lower risk of death related to a neurodegenerative condition
A 18% lower risk of death related to a respiratory disease
This may explain why olive oil as a major component of the Mediterranean diet has consistently shown health benefits in numerous studies. The results also suggest that when used as a substitute for products containing animal fat such as butter, we see the same healthy benefits. Bon appetit!!
“The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) has generally come in right near the top in U.S. News and World Report’s annual best diet rankings.” Mark Bittman, David L.Katz, M.D. How to Eat: All Your Food and Diet Questions Answered. 2020.
Folate is a water-soluble vitamin (not stored in the body) and primary food sources include: Fortified, refined grain products (cereals, bread, and pasta), dark green vegetables like collards and romaine, dried beans.
Folate plays key roles during pregnancy in the synthesis of proteins needed for the normal development of fetal tissues including the spinal cord and brain. It also promotes the normal formation of red blood cells. Folate is the form found in foods whereas folic acid is used in vitamin supplements and fortified foods.
The consequences of a deficiency include megaloblastic anemia (abnormally large red blood cells with reduced oxygen capability,) increased rise of neural tube defects, preterm delivery, and elevated levels of homocysteine (associated with heart and brain health). It may mask signs of vitamin B12 deficiency (pernicious anemia).
Until the late 1990’s, neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly affected approximately 3900 pregnancies in the U. S. each year.Today, public health policies mandate the fortification of certain food with folic acid, the synthetic form of folate, preventing birth defects in thousands of babies.
Research had previously shown that high doses of folate (folic acid) was associated with certain types of cancer.
“The success of the fortification of folic acid program can be seen in the decline in the estimated number of neural tube affected pregnancies that has occurred since the fortification of grains and grain products. In 1994, there were 1.6 cases per 1000 births; in 2001, about 0.9 cases per 1000. Americans were consuming more folate, in the form of folic acid, through food and supplements, causing concern among scientists about possible increased cancer rates, especially for colorectal cancer.” However, is folate safe? Current research says “yes”. Read on: