For people hoping to prevent the heart rhythm disorder known as “a-fib,” new research shows that taking vitamin D or fish oil supplements won’t help.
A-fib, also known as atrial fibrillation, affects more than 33 million people worldwide and is the most common type of abnormal heart rhythm. It can cause symptoms that affect a person’s quality of life, result in blood clots that can cause a stroke, and also lead to heart failure.
For the study, the researchers examined whether taking vitamin D supplements or omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil might affect different kinds of a-fib, and whether some patients would be more likely to benefit or be harmed by the supplements.
Overall, the results were mostly consistent across the different types of a-fib and patient groups, according to lead author Dr. Christine Albert and colleagues. Albert is chair of the cardiology department at Smidt Heart Institute in Los Angeles.
The study, published March 16 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, follows a presentation by Albert at an American Heart Association conference last year.
“Our recommendation remains the same,” she said in a JAMA Network news release. “We do not support taking fish oil or vitamin D supplements to prevent atrial fibrillation.”
However, “unlike other recent trials that found increased risks of atrial fibrillation with higher-dose omega-3 fatty acid supplements, our study did not find a significantly increased risk of atrial fibrillation with one gram of fish oil per day, which is good news for individuals taking low-dose fish oil for other health conditions,” Albert said.
Her team also found that vitamin D supplements at 2,000 international units per day did not increase a-fib risk.