THURSDAY, November 12, 2020 (HealthDay) – Vitamin D, fish oil supplements, and strength training have long been touted for their health benefits, but for healthy seniors, none of them – either combined or alone – promote physical or physical performance, mental performance or prevent bone fractures , report Swiss researchers.
For three years, they followed more than 2,100 men and women (mean age: 74 years) who were randomly assigned to a program that included one or more of the three health interventions.
The result: “The results suggest that extra vitamin D and omega-3 [fish oil] Admission to more than 70 active adults without prior illness has no benefit for the risk of non-vertebral fractures or for muscle and memory function, “said study director Dr. Heike Bischoff-Ferrari, head of geriatric and geriatric research at the University Hospital Zurich.
But the takeaway wasn’t entirely daunting.
Ongoing analysis suggests that consuming one gram of fish oil per day reduces the overall risk of infections in seniors by 11%. Some specific infection risks decreased even further – including a dramatic 62% reduction in urinary tract infections, a common condition in the elderly.
Even when the risk of bone fractures was not improved, participants who took 2000 IU of vitamin D daily saw a “significant” drop in their systolic (upper) blood pressure, Bischoff-Ferrari said. Vitamin D supplementation was also linked to a 16% decrease in the overall risk of infection in 70 to 74 year olds.
“Given the safety and affordability of the supplements, as well as the high death rate from infections in older adults, these results are relevant to public health,” she said.
The researchers also tested the effects of two exercise programs: a strength training program and an “attention control training program” on joint flexibility. Each consisted of three 30-minute sessions per week. Some participants exercised or took supplements; others mixed the two.
In participants with no major pre-existing health problems, the researchers found no statistically significant health benefits of the therapies. They said most of the participants started the study in excellent shape, which may have limited the chance of showing greater benefits.
“Over 80% were moderately to vigorously physically active, and about half were healthy age groups with no comorbidities,” said Bischoff-Ferrari. “In fact, over the three years, all participants improved their blood pressure, cognitive function, and lower extremity function.”
Another complicating factor could be the amount of daily supplements tested, said Lona Sandon, director of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas’ Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, who reviewed the results.
“One of my first thoughts on this study is, was the dose of intervention enough to make a difference?” Said Sandon. “The vitamin D dose was only 2000 IU … [which is] is considered the current upper limit for vitamin D. However, there is much scientific controversy about how much vitamin D is actually the upper limit and is needed to change blood levels. We make a lot more vitamin D from sunlight than this. “
The fish oil dose was also relatively low, noted Sandon. Studies showing a benefit for things like lowering inflammation use much higher doses, and strength training was also below current recommendations of two hours a week, she added.
“Only about two-thirds of the participants said they did the 30 minutes three days a week [requirement]”Sandon pointed this out.” Am I surprised by the results? Not at all with these cans. “
Her conclusion: “It is good for us and essential to get enough vitamin D in food and in the sunshine,” said Sandon. “Omega-3s are essential nutrients for the body and also for proper function. Exercise helps us function better physically and mentally. People shouldn’t give up on eating healthy and moving around. I don’t see anyone Downside to all of these things. “
The results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on November 10th.
For more information on seniors and health advice, visit the US National Institute on Aging.
SOURCES: Dr. med. Heike Bischoff-Ferrari, PhD, Chair, Department of Geriatrics and Aging Research, University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland, and Director, Center for Aging and Mobility, University Hospital and City Hospital Waid, Zurich; Lona Sandon, Ph.D., RDN, LD, Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Nutrition, and Director, Masters, Coordinated Clinical Nutrition Program, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas; American Medical Association Journal, Nov. 10, 2020