Nutrition Business Journal

Vitamin D and Omega-3 Fish Oil to be the Focus of New $20 Million Study


Pharmavite and Ocean Nutrition Canada will provide vitamin D and omega-3 fish oil supplements for an upcoming study that will explore the effects of the supplements on a person’s risk of getting cancer, heart disease or having a stroke. The $20 million study will be funded by the National Institutes of Health and is being conducted by the Harvard Medical School and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA.

The study is being called the Vitamin D and Omega-3 Trial (VITAL) and will research 20,000 men and women beginning in January 2010. Women aged 65 or older and men aged 60 or older who have not previously had a heart attack, stroke or cancer may be eligible to participate in VITAL. One quarter of the participants will be blacks, as the study seeks to investigate whether or not people with dark skin have a higher risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease due to vitamin D deficiencies. Researchers will also monitor the effects of the supplements on memory loss, depression, diabetes and osteoporosis, among other conditions.

The popularity of both supplements has skyrocketed in recent years as more health benefits continue to be revealed. U.S. consumer sales of vitamin D grew more than 100% in 2008 and the market size now hovers above $230 million, according to NBJ estimates. NBJ estimates also indicate that sales of fish and animal oils increased another 18% in 2008 with the market topping $735 million. The fish oil category has added more than $600 million in sales since 2001.

Also involved in the study are the National Cancer Institute and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. For more information on VITAL, visit

Related NBJ Links:
Vitamin D Testing Skyrockets as Research Emerges on Link Between Deficiencies and Diseases
Vitamin D May Prevent Bone Fractures in Older Adults, Many Americans Still D Deficient
Study: Fish Oil Does Not Improve Benefit of Heart Drugs

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