Want to be a part of alternative medicine history?

You might be eligible to take part in the Vitamin D and Omega-3 Trial (VITAL), which is currently recruiting 20,000 men and women.

VITAL will be the largest and longest test of these two fundamental nutrients to date, and the results are certain to be controversial, whatever the outcome.

The trial will be run by researchers at Harvard Medical School and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. But no clinic visits are necessary, so you don’t have to live near Boston to participate. In fact, researchers plan to recruit subjects from every state in the U.S.

Here are the key requirements for participation:

  • Women must be 65 or older
  • Men must be 60 or older
  • No previous heart attack or stroke
  • No previous cancer (except for skin cancer)

As with any clinical trial, the drawback is in the luck of the draw: you might end up in the placebo group. That means you won’t be getting much in the way of supplemental D or omega-3 fatty acids.

During the five year intervention period, you have to agree to take no more than 800 IU of vitamin D in supplement form daily. That includes any D you might get from a multivitamin. You have to agree to take no fish oil supplements, and to limit calcium supplements to a maximum of 1,200 mg per day.

Subjects will be divided into four groups:

1) Daily supplements of vitamin D3 (2,000 IU) and fish oil (one gram)
2) Daily vitamin D3 supplement and fish oil placebo
3) Daily vitamin D3 placebo and fish oil
4) Daily placebos of both D3 and fish oil

On paper, this is an exciting study. It’s long, the subjects will be in reasonably good health at baseline, and the supplement doses are high enough to be effective. Of course, the devil is in the details, but so far the details don’t appear too devilish.

If you’d like to participate, you can find more information at vitalstudy.org.

But if participation isn’t your cup of tea, then just check back here in five years and we’ll take a good long look at the results.

To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson


“The Vitamin D and Omega-3 Trial (VITAL)” vitalstudy.org