Many of my Afib patients take fish oil, vitamin D, or both. But are they wasting their money?
Recent research suggests that maybe they are.
I understand why people would think that vitamin D and fish oil might prevent Afib. When the original studies suggested a heart benefit from fish oil, one of the popular reasons was that fish oil prevented heart rhythm problems.
And some research has shown an association between low vitamin D levels and Afib.
However, there has not been a large, well-done, placebo-controlled research study to assess either vitamin D or fish oil on Afib.
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The VITAL Rhythm Study
The VITAL Rhythm study looked at over 25,000 people over the age of 50 and followed them for over three years. The group that received fish oil (840 mg of EPA/DHA) and vitamin D (2,000 IU) had the same amount of Afib as the placebo group.
So, the bottom line, if you are taking fish oil or vitamin D to prevent Afib, you are probably wasting your money. And maybe worse, although not seen in this trial, several other trials of fish oil and other omega-3 fatty acids have shown a slight INCREASE in Afib.
With several large, negative trials, fish oil does not appear to have any benefit in preventing heart disease or cancer. The exception is the pure EPA prescription medication icosapent ethyl (Vascepa®), which reduced heart disease and death in the REDUCE-IT trial. However, Afib was increased in those taking icosapent ethyl in this trial.
Although vitamin D is commonly associated with poor health and heart disease, there has been no convincing research that shows vitamin D supplements improve heart outcomes.
At this point, I don’t see enough evidence of benefit to recommend fish oil or vitamin D supplements for preventing heart disease.