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Fish Oil Capsule Benefits for Middle Aged People [New Research!]

The benefits of fish oil for health are not new. However, recent research shows the benefits of fish oil for middle aged people, especially when combined with vitamin D. Here we look at the new findings to show yet one more reason fish oil is a good thing. (1,2)

Fish Oil Research 

Sponsored by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the research looked at the possible link between vitamin D and fish oil supplements to decrease the rate of autoimmune disease. The study looked at almost 26,000 participants with women aged 55 and over, and men 50 and over. The women were slightly overrepresented at 51% of those participating. (1,2)

Fish Oil Testing 

The participants did not have a history of conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, or renal failure. They were split into two groups with half receiving either 2,000 IU of vitamin D and a 1-g fish oil capsule, both supplements, or a placebo containing soybean or olive oil. Blood samples were taken to read vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. Lifestyle factors were considered using questionnaires including whether or not the participants took vitamin D supplements as well as their daily dairy and fish consumption. Annual questionnaires over a five-year period tracked new disease diagnoses, supplement adherence and potential side effects. (1,2)

Findings: Use Of Fish Oil In Middle Aged People

Following the study, 93.1% of the participants had responded to the questionnaires. As well 81% had taken at least two-thirds of their supplements. After the first year, 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels rose 40% from baseline for the participants who took vitamin D while there were little changes noted in the placebo group. The group who took omega-3 supplements showed 54.7% more omega-3 in their blood compared to the placebo group who only showed a 2% increase. (1,2)

Findings: Use Of Vitamin D & Fish Oil 

The group who took vitamin D supplements with or without fish oil, were 22% less likely to have developed an autoimmune condition than the vitamin D placebo group. For those taking the fish oil supplements with or without vitamin D, they were 15% less likely to have an autoimmune condition than the placebo group. However, researchers found this was not significant once controlling for other factors. In the case where they included probable cases of autoimmune conditions, risk was reduced by 18% when taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements. (1,2)

Adherence to Supplements

In the last three years of the study, those who adhered to their supplements enjoyed the most benefits. In fact, vitamin D supplements led to 39% fewer confirmed autoimmune conditions compared to the placebo group with 10% lesser likelihood for those taking fish oil supplements. For the participants taking both supplements, risk was reduced by 30% compared to the placebo group. (1,2)

Vitamin D

According to the lead author of the study, Karen Harte Costenbader, M.D., professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, vitamin D enters the nucleus and helps regulate vitamin D-responsive genes. These genes play a role in both innate and adaptive immune system function. “There are many well-known immunomodulatory actions of vitamin D, including potentially beneficial effects on B and T lymphocytes, macrophages, monocytes, dendritic cells, etc.,” she explains. (1,2)

Fish Oils

“Similarly for marine omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils), there are many well-known anti-inflammatory and ‘pro-resolving’ mechanisms, including downregulation of inflammatory mediators, such as prostaglandins and leukotrienes, and upregulation of ‘specialize[d] pro-resolving mediators,’ including the resolvins, protectins, maresins, and lipoxins, that act to ‘mop up’ after inflammation and definitely could be responsible for reducing new onset autoimmune disease,” says Dr. Costenbader. (1,2)

There are some considerations when trying to generalize the findings since the study was limited to middle aged people. “We studied only one dose and formulation of each supplement, so we cannot address other doses or formulations,” says Dr. Costenbader. “We [also] do not yet know about effectiveness among people at especially high risk by virtue of family history or early signs and symptoms.” (1,2)

The research shows vitamin D and fish oil supplements taken over time could reduce risk for autoimmune disease. “We are continuing to follow people in the trial and hope to have more information about who benefits most, for which diseases, etc.,” says Dr. Costenbader.  (1,2)

If you would like to discover the possible benefits of fish oil, click here to learn more about our favorite fish oil.


  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/vitamin-d-and-fish-oil-supplements-reduce-risk-of-autoimmune-conditions#Clinical-trial
  2. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01169259 

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