Medical study through the mail

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Could supplements you buy over-the-counter help reduce some of the deadliest medical problems we face? Harvard-affiliated researchers are conducting one of the largest studies of its kind to find out, and they want your help. But don't worry. You don't have to go anywhere. Everything you need is delivered right to your door.

Found in sunshine, it's known for strengthening bones.

"Low vitamin D levels are associated with higher fractures," said Dr. Henry Lim with Henry Ford Hospital.

In salmon, nuts, and seeds -- omega-threes could keep your heart healthy and your mind sharp. Two-time U.S. memory champ Nelson Dellis says they were key in his back-to-back wins.

Now, researchers want to know what happens when vitamin D and Omega 3 dietary supplements are combined.

Dr. Raj C. Shah, a neurologist at Rush University Medical Center, says some studies show vitamin D and-or Omega 3 may help prevent heart attack, stroke or cancer.

"We don't know whether these treatments, Omega 3 or vitamin D, really do help prevent these conditions," said Shah.

These pills will help experts figure out benefits and risks. It's all part of the vital study. Researchers are looking for 20,000 people nationwide to take these supplements every day for five years. Participants get packets by mail once a month,

Study directors are targeting men age 50 and up and women 55 and older and are putting a strong emphasis on African Americans.

"Because there's some thoughts in the African American community that they're at more risk for developing things like heart attack, stroke, or cancer, and they tend to have lower vitamin d levels," Shah said.

The vital study will also look at the effects of vitamin D and Omega 3s on other health issues including diabetes, high blood pressure, memory loss, depression and macular degeneration.

Both women and men can join the study.  If you are a woman aged 55 or older or a man aged 50 or older, and you have not previously had a heart attack, stroke or cancer (other than skin cancer), you may be eligible to participate in the VITAL study.  To participate you can send an email to  or you can call toll free at 800-388-3963 to provide your name and mailing address.  For more information, go to

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