Dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acid from fish oil may prevent physical deficits resulting from traumatic brain injury (TBI). This was the result of a study on mice, some of which were given omega-3 before the brain trauma. Omega-3 is known to be beneficial in other neurologic disorders and has a very good safety rating in humans. “..healthy individuals can ingest fish oil capsules on a daily basis as a preventive measure towards brain injuries”.
The present research was done on the impact of long-term supplementation of mice with omega-3 before a controlled impact to the brain. The mice were followed with observation of their physical recovery compared to a group of mice which had a TBI but did not receive omega-3. The anti-inflammatory aspects of omega-3 were studied, as was the recovery of myelin* after the injury. The study was designed to show the preventive effect of omega-3 in TBI.
The animals received triple-strength omega-3 containing docosahexaenoic (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic (EPA) acids for 2 months. Blood levels of the mice revealed increased omega-3, but not omega-6. After the brain, injury the mice were studied for their ability to recover from the injury. Microscopic sections of brain were studied for white matter damage and other histologic studies. Mice which had received omega-3 had a reduced brain inflammatory response compared to controls.
The studies verified that omega-3 supplementation appeared to prevent motor deficits from TBI for the 14 days of observation following the injury. The benefits appeared to be in both gray and white matter** on microscopic testing. The mice which had received omega-3 preventive therapy had less cognitive dysfunction after the brain injury. Oligodendrocytes, cells which form myelin, have been shown to be protected by DHA.
CONCLUSION: Omega-3 supplementation was effective in preventing neurologic deficits resulting from impact to the brain in mice. The findings support the long-term use of fish oil supplementation in humans.
NOTES: *Myelin is the fatty layer around nerves found in both the central (as white matter in the brain) and the peripheral nervous systems. Myelin can be damaged by traumatic injury, but can heal in time. Myelin is required for maximal function of nerve cells.
**Gray and white matter are two parts of the brain. White matter contains myelin, but gray matter does not.