A new study conducted by and published in the New England Journal of Medicine has discovered some new benefits associated with Vitamin D and fish oil supplements. Vitamin D is a naturally occurring substance found in the body that is primarily provided to us through exposure to sunlight (hence why it’s often called “the sunshine vitamin.”) However, in cooler seasons (such as fall and winter), there is less sunlight, and therefore our intake of vitamin D tends to decrease and be at lower than average levels. Unlike Vitamin D, fish oil (omega-3) is something that doesn’t occur naturally in our bodies and is instead something we have to get from the food we eat (such as seafood.)

In order to absorb calcium and promote bone growth, the body needs Vitamin D. Without it, you’re at risk of developing soft, fragile or misshaped bones. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to things like heart disease, weight gain, and depression, and even certain types of cancer. However, the study conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine discovered that for those who took vitamin D supplements and developed or already had cancer, the death rate was as much as 25% lower than those who did not get enough vitamin D intake. According to lead author of the study, Dr. JoAnn Manson, when taken at a dose of 2,000 IU per day, vitamin D had the potential to affect the biology of a tumour, making it less likely to become metastatic and spread to other areas of the body. It was previously recommended that we get approximately 600 IU of vitamin D per day.

Fish oil – also commonly known as a form of omega-3 – is also something the body should get more of. It’s been long known to support eye health in addition to lowering triglycerides and blood pressure, but this latest study also discovered that, when taken in higher strengths (at least 1 gram), omega-3 fish oil can also reduce the risk of heart attacks by as much as 28% than those who didn’t take any fish oil supplements. Furthermore, the study also found instances of heart attacks to be as much as 77% lower in participants who were African-American.

It is important to note that if you do intend on increasing your vitamin D or omega-3 intake, you should always first discuss this with your family physician before going ahead and doing it on your own, as too much of each may be harmful to your health and could even be toxic. For example, getting too much vitamin D can cause a buildup of calcium in the blood, which can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, or weakness, as well as increased urination; while certain types of omega-3 supplements can be high in vitamin A, and if consumed in large amounts can pose a potential problem, causing things like nausea, dizziness, joint pain, and even skin irritation. Other tell-tale signs that you may have consumed too much fish oil include high blood sugar levels, bleeding of the gums, nosebleeds, low blood pressure, diarrhea, insomnia, and even stroke.