Aims: Vitamin D and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are derived from partially overlapping sources. Vitamin D is produced in the skin after sun exposure, but is also derived from fatty fish and fish oils. Dietary PUFAs are mainly derived from plant oils that are rich in n-6 PUFAs, but fatty fish provides high amounts of the marine n-3 PUFAs. The Western diet provides an excess of n-6 PUFAs compared to n-3 PUFAs, and the ratios of these may influence human health. Here, we investigated the potential associations of plasma concentrations of vitamin D, marine PUFAs and PUFA ratios.
Methods: Plasma concentrations of vitamin D (25(OH)D), marine PUFAs, and PUFA ratios were measured in 372 women from the Norwegian Women and Cancer (NOWAC) Post-Genome Cohort. Covariability was examined in 310 non-users of cod liver oil, using Spearman's rank correlation and linear regression.
Results: In non-users of cod liver oil, the average concentration of vitamin D was 40.3 nmol/L, and marine PUFA concentration was 0.2 mg/g. PUFA ratios were dominated by the n-6 fatty acids. Vitamin D levels were significantly associated with marine fatty acids and weakly associated with PUFA ratios.
Conclusions: Concentrations of vitamin D and marine PUFAs were below recommended levels. The correlation analyses indicated that health-related effects of vitamin D and marine PUFAs respectively may be hard to separate in epidemiological studies. However, measured health effects of PUFA ratios and vitamin D are likely to derive from the influence of the two factors separately. The presented results are the first to show these associations in a nationally representative cohort.
Keywords: Fatty acids; PUFA; epidemiology; fatty fish; nutrition; vitamin D.
© 2014 the Nordic Societies of Public Health.