Vitamin D and fish oil: role in prevention of autoimmune disease

A published 2022 research study, 5 years in the making, has shown vitamin D and fish oil supplements reduce the risk of developing an autoimmune disease.

Autoimmune disease includes rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica, autoimmune thyroid disease (Hashimoto’s and Grave’s), psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s and Colitis). 

The results showed that vitamin D supplementation, with or without the fish oil had reduced the risk of developing an autoimmune disease by 22%!

Fish oil supplementation without vitamin D had no effect in reducing the risk of developing autoimmune disease.

The combination of vitamin D and fish oil over time was significant in reducing the risk of autoimmune disease. It showed that taking fish oil longer term did help to reduce the risk of autoimmune disease but it works best when paired with vitamin D.

If Rheumatoid arthritis runs in your family, READ THIS: The biggest effect seen in this study was the reduction in rheumatoid arthritis in the vitamin D and fish oil group. It was 40% lower in the participants who were taking both vitamin D and fish oil versus those who were taking the placebo treatment. It was most significant in people who have a family history of autoimmune disease and are more likely to develop it over time. After 2 years of supplementation, that is when most of the benefits started to be seen and it kept increasing up until 5 years. 

Prevention of disease is what Affinity Health Clinic’s naturopaths and chiropractors are after.

The specifics of vitamin D:

Vitamin D is extremely important in many of your body’s processes. In Canada, we can make vitamin D from the sun between May-October if bare skin is exposed to the sun. From November-April, it is not possible to make vitamin D due to the latitude of the sun. This means that many Canadians become deficient in vitamin D over the wintertime. 

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which means you can store it in your body. It also means that if you take too much, it can build up and cause problems with calcium levels. Having your blood tested to check your vitamin D level is the best way to know what your level is, and then a dose specific to your body can be recommended. 

Checking vitamin D levels: 

Your medical doctor can run this blood test, but it is not covered by OHIP unless you have osteoporosis, are on medications that affect vitamin D and others. If you are not part of this population, you will have to pay for the vitamin D testing.

Your naturopathic doctor can also run this blood test for vitamin D for a similar fee. 

The fees for vitamin D may stop some people from getting tested, but it is so important to know your level as many people have very low levels of vitamin D. This is one test you want to invest in, and the cost is around $35 + lab fee.

Vitamin D Dosing:

Did you know, in Ontario any dose of vitamin D above 2,500IU per day is considered a prescription? 

Once you have your vitamin D level determined on blood work, a specific dose for supplementation can be recommended to get your to an optimal level. This dose is usually short term, and then repeat blood work is done in 3-6 months to check what your level is. 

At Affinity Health Clinic, Dr. Laura Hoffmann, ND can order your vitamin D blood test and then recommend appropriate dosing. Dr. Laura has her prescribing rights in Ontario and can safely and effectively prescribe higher doses of vitamin D to fit your specific needs. If you have trouble taking supplements everyday, Dr. Laura can prescribe a high dose once a week vitamin D pill. This means over 3 months, you would only need to take 12 pills total!

There are other nutrients that are important to take with vitamin D, come and talk to us to find out which ones. 

Your take away message for vitamin D: Test, don’t guess

Remember, don’t start taking high dose vitamin D without knowing your blood level as it can be dangerous when it gets too high. 


Written by: Dr. Laura Hoffmann, Naturopathic Doctor at Affinity Health Clinic

February 8, 2022

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