Recent research shows that omega-3 fatty acids, long known for producing many health benefits, could protect the brain in a case of trauma, and perhaps even heal it after injury.
Researchers at universities in the United States and England are optimistic about the results they have found when experimenting with omega-3 fatty acids to help speed recovery from nerve and brain injuries.
"More work is needed but our research indicates that omega-3 fatty acids can protect damaged nerve cells, which is a critical first step in a successful neurological recovery,” Adina Michael-Titus, Professor of Neuroscience at Barts and The London Medical School, said in a press release from the University of London.
"Our previous research has shown that these fatty acids could have beneficial effects in a number of neurological conditions. This new study suggests that they could also have a role in treating peripheral nerve injuries.’’
The research from the University of London suggests that omega-3 fatty acids have the potential to protect nerves from injury and help them to regenerate. When nerves are damaged because of an accident or injury, patients experience pain, weakness and muscle paralysis which can leave them disabled, and recovery rates are poor.
Doctors doing similar research in the United States discovered that large doses of omega-3 fatty acids, if administered quickly after a traumatic injury, have the potential to improve outcomes from a potentially devastating problem, according to a study published in The American Journal of Emergency Medicine.
Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for good health, but the human body cannot produce these acids effectively. Instead, we get them from food rich in these essential nutrients, like trout, salmon, halibut and other oily fish, walnuts, kiwi and flax seed.
Omega-3 fatty acids keep the brain’s synapses healthy, allowing them to create the connections for signals to travel in the brain. Without these essential fatty acids, people become prone to neurological and emotional disorders.
This is especially important for people who have experienced Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), which usually results from a violent blow or jolt to the head that causes the brain to collide with the skull. Football players involved in violent collisions are the most obvious victims of TBI, but recent research is focusing on veterans returning from war. Some of them may or may not be aware they have experienced TBI.
Military doctors are doing research to supplement soldiers’ diets with omega-3 to see if it improves their mental health and stress resilience. It is hoped this will help stop hundreds of service personnel committing suicide and save billions of dollars.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of death and disability among persons in the United States. Each year, an estimated 1.5 million Americans sustain a TBI. As a result of these injuries, 52,000 people die, 230,000 people are hospitalized and survive. At least 5.3 million Americans, 2% of the U.S. population, currently live with disabilities resulting from TBI.