The DO-HEALTH study, led by Heike Bischoff-Ferrari, professor of geriatrics in Zurich, has studied the effects of simple measures on the health of healthy adults over 70. Preliminary analysis showed that vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids and strength training did not significantly improve bone health, leg function and memory. However, certain groups of people can still benefit from these measures.
By 2030, one in three people in Europe will be over 65 years old, and all of these people will want to have fun and lead an active lifestyle. However, to do this, it is essential that people maintain physical and mental health.
Want: simple and cheap prevention
A US VITAL study published last year showed that vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids did not reduce the risk of new cancers or major cardiovascular diseases in men and women aged 50 to 60. DO-HEALTH in old age has studied the effects of these supplements on aging. This EU-funded project is led by Heike A. Bischoff-Ferrari, Professor of Geriatrics and Aging Research at the University of Zurich, Head of the Clinic at the University Hospital of Zurich, and Senior Physician at the University Clinic of Geriatrics at Waid and Triemli Hospitals in Zurich .
The first findings of a three-year clinical trial conducted by a team of international researchers had no effect on lower extremity function, memory or fracture incidence. However, the results of the study showed that, compared with the control group, certain subgroups had the benefit of increasing vitamin D and omega-3 supplementation in reducing infection rates and systolic blood pressure.
Largest randomized double-blind study in the elderly
In their study, the researchers recruited 2,1
They were randomly divided into eight groups and received one, one, two or three interventions: supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids (1 g/day), supplementation of vitamin D (2,000 IU/day) and/or simple Home exercise program. Neither the trial center nor the participants knew which group they belonged to. The control group was given a placebo and exercises to control joint mobility.
During the three years of the study, all seven European test centers conducted full-day, all-day visits to observe the health and function of the participants, while conducting extensive surveys over the phone every three months. The researchers checked for example bone and muscle density, blood pressure, memory function, walking speed, and important biomarkers. In addition, they recorded events such as new diseases, infections, falls, doctor visits and hospitalizations.
Only has a clear positive effect on certain subgroups
“Our research results show that in adults over 70 years old, living an active lifestyle and having no previous diseases, supplementation of vitamin D and omega-3 will not produce any benefits for bone health, memory and muscle function. However, We believe this will have an impact on infections (such as COVID-19),” Bischoff-Ferrari said.
Omega-3s reduced the risk of infection by 11% in total, especially upper respiratory tract infection (10%) and urinary tract infection (62%), while vitamin D lowered male systolic blood pressure by 2.5 mmHg and lowered the risk of male infection . The younger participants (70 to 74 years old) decreased by 16%.
Bischoff-Ferrari said: “Given the high safety and low cost of these supplements and the high mortality rate associated with infections in the elderly, these findings are very relevant to the health of the general population.” Vitamin D also has a gender-specific effect on reducing systolic blood pressure. It is worth further study.
Put the survey results in the proper context
The researchers attributed the effects on bone health, muscle function, and lack of memory to the relatively healthy bodies of the study participants, most of whom exercise regularly. In addition, about half of the participants were so-called healthy elderly people without previous illnesses or vitamin D deficiency. In addition to the supplements prescribed by the study, they are also allowed to take 800 IUs of vitamin D per day. Bischoff-Ferrari said: “Therefore, the results are not inconsistent with the Federal Public Health Agency’s current recommendations on vitamin D supplementation and fall prevention for the elderly, nor with the preventive effects of exercise programs.”
Unique aging research database
The research team now expects that the results of the DO-HEALTH intervention will involve cancer prevention, cholesterol levels, cardiovascular disease, falls, weakness and health costs. Bischoff-Ferrari said: “Then, we will be able to fully evaluate the role of supplements in preventing senile diseases.” Looking ahead, the comprehensive database and biobank established for the DO-HEALTH research is also expected to help everyone evaluate early and individually Each person’s aging process and health risks, with a view to individualized prevention. Bischoff-Ferrari said: “Ultimately, the goal of DO-HEALTH is to enable more people to age in a healthy and positive way.”
Vitamin D3 and omega-3 fatty acids have no effect on AMD
Heike A. Bischoff-Ferrari et al. The effect of vitamin D supplementation, Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation or strength training on the clinical outcome of the elderly, Jama (2020). DOI: 10.1001 / jama.2020.16909
Provided by the University of Zurich
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