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Omega-3s Can Help Activate Vitamin D

This is a really interesting study that was published a number of weeks ago, and very relevant to a couple other studies I've previously discussed.

In this new randomized, open-label, controlled study found that omega-3 fatty acids may activate vitamin D, increase fetuin-A levels, and modify erythrocyte membrane contents. Subjects taking the omega-3 fatty acids for 6 months showed that the levels of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D were increased.

1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D is the metabolically active form of vitamin D. It's created from 25-hydroxyvitamin D, which is the storage form of vitamin D, and the levels which we measure to determine vitamin D status.

The authors of this new study suggest this may be one of the ways omega 3s offer cardiovascular health benefits--it activates vitamin D, which has known and proven benefits to the cardiovascular system.

Previously, I had discussed a study that showed only mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) increased 25-hydroxyvitamin D, and that polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs, like omega-3s) actually decreased levels. This new study may suggest that the levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D may decrease because it's being converted to 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, which is normally a very tightly regulated process.

Similarly, a more recent study found that fat-soluble nutrients in salads are best absorbed with MUFAs present in salad dressing. In conjunction with the other study just discussed, the picture that's coming together in my head is that MUFAs are best to help absorb these fat-soluble nutrients, like vitamin D, but omega-3s are likely best to help convert vitamin D into its metabolically active form.

In other words, you need an assortment of healthy fats in the diet to optimize your nutrient profile. I guess that sounds obvious to most, but I love studies like this that add another piece to the puzzle. It also demonstrates the complex interplay of nutrients in the diet (and supplements) and why we can't look at nutrients from behind pharmaceutical goggles (i.e. measuring the effectiveness of nutrients using a tool designed to measure the effectiveness of drugs--the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial).

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Source: Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation increases 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D and fetuin-A levels in dialysis patients

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