Study shows synergistic effects of vitamin D3, omega-3s and exercise on pre-frailty prevention

The research evaluated a subset of participants from the wider DO-Health healthy aging study – a multi-center clinical trial carried out in a generally healthy population of community-dwelling European adults aged 70 and over in Switzerland, Germany, France, Austria and Portugal .

“In this three-year, double-blind, randomized controlled trial among 1,137 older adults who were robust at baseline, the combined interventions of daily supplemental 2,000 IU vitamin D3 plus daily 1g marine omega-3 plus a simple home exercise program (SHEP) had significant benefits with regard to the prevention of pre-frailty,”​ the team of international researchers wrote.

“However, this benefit was not significant for the three treatments individually, highlighting the importance of the additive effect of all three preventive strategies.”

The study was funded by the Seventh Framework Program of the European Commission, the University of Zurich (Chair for Geriatric Medicine and Aging Research), DSM Nutritional Products, Roche, NESTEC, Pfizer and Streuli.

The additive effect

The study divided the subset of 1,137 robust older adults (mean age 74.3 years, 56.5% women, mean gait speed 1.18 m/s) into eight groups to evaluate the effect of daily vitamin D3, omega-3s and SHEP, alone and in combination , as compared to a placebo control. Frailty status was assessed at baseline and annually over three years of follow-up.

“Odds ratios for becoming pre-frail were not significantly lower for vitamin D3, or omega 3s or SHEP, individually, compared to control (placebo for the supplements and control exercise),” ​the researchers concluded. “However, the three treatments combined showed significantly decreased odds (OR 0.61 [95% CI 0.38–0.98; p=0.04) of becoming pre-frail compared to control.”