May 17, 2019: The VITamin D and OmegA-3 TriaL (VITAL): Design and Results of a Large Pragmatic Trial (JoAnn E. Manson, MD, DrPH)


JoAnn E. Manson, MD, DrPH
Chief, Division of Preventive Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Professor of Medicine and the Michael and Lee Bell Professor of Women’s Health
Harvard Medical School
Professor, Department of Epidemiology
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health


The VITamin D and OmegA-3 TriaL (VITAL): Design and Results of a Large Pragmatic Trial


Pragmatic clinical trial; Dietary supplements; Primary prevention; Mail-based randomized clinical trial; Cancer prevention; Cardiovascular disease prevention; vitamin D; Omega-3 fatty acids

Key Points

  • The VITAL pragmatic trial evaluated the effects of dietary supplements (vitamin D and omega-3) on reducing risk for developing cancer, heart disease, and stroke in the general population.
  • Study recruitment involved nationwide and targeted mailings, media reports, advertising, and brochures. Retention included participant newsletters, incentive gifts, and honoraria.
  • Findings included that neither omega-3s nor vitamin D significantly reduced the primary endpoints of major cardiovascular disease events or total invasive cancer. Omega-3s did reduce total myocardial infarction by 28%, with greatest reductions in those with low dietary fish intake and in African Americans.

Discussion Themes

VITAL’s hybrid design—remote or mail-based intervention plus serial in-clinic visits in a sample—has advantages in promoting quality and cost-efficiency.

Next steps for VITAL include continued follow-up for 5 years; genetic studies; and fostering new ancillary studies through nationwide collaborations.  

Visit the VITAL study website and read more about the results of VITAL (Manson et al., New Engl J Med, 2019)


#dietarysupplements, #pctGR, @Collaboratory1