Vitamin D, fish oil supplements won’t lower AFib risk, study reveals

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Besides just interfering with everyday life, an irregular heartbeat, also significantly raises one’s risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack. Many take both vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid fish oil supplements to avoid developing this condition, atrial fibrillation (AFib), but a new study finds both of these won’t actually help.

Researchers in Los Angeles say neither vitamin D nor omega-3 fatty acids can prevent AFib. Despite not providing a benefit, both supplements don’t appear to increase risk of heart trouble either.

“Our trial results do not support taking fish oil or vitamin D supplements to prevent atrial fibrillation,” says lead study author Dr. Christine Albert, in a press release. “However, these supplements also did not elevate the risk of atrial fibrillation, which is good news for individuals taking them for other health conditions.”

Up until now, observational research focusing on vitamin D, fish oil, and AFib have produced conflicting results.

“This is the first large-scale trial that led us to a definitive result,” the chair of the Department of Cardiology in the Smidt Heart Institute adds.

Which lifestyle factors play role in AFib?

To come to these conclusions, researchers performed a randomized clinical trial with over 25,000 American men and women. None of the participants had any history or showed signs of AFib at the start of the study. Researchers told a portion of those subjects to take both vitamin D and fish oil supplements regularly, while other participants consumed a placebo.

Over the next five plus years, doctors diagnosed 3.6 percent (900) of those individuals with AFib. Importantly, no statically significant differences emerged in diagnosis rates among the placebo and supplement groups. In other words, about the same number of people developed an irregular heartbeat, regardless of whether or not they’re taking vitamin D or fish oil supplements or not.

“Although these two supplements do not prevent atrial fibrillation, recent studies have suggested that lifestyle modifications such as maintaining a healthy weight, controlling blood pressure, and moderating alcohol intake may lower risk of atrial fibrillation,” Albert concludes. “We need to continue to educate the public on ways to lower their risk as well as search for new ways to prevent this condition.”

This research was presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions.