Omega 3

Can Omega-3 Save You From Brain Damage?

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Guest blog by Designs for Health

Study demonstrates omega-3 supplementation attenuates microglial activation and inflammatory response from traumatic brain injury


The treatment of concussions and traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a clinical challenge. Medical treatments for post-concussion symptoms have consisted mainly of opiates for headaches, anti-depressants, anti-nauseas, anti-vertigo, stimulants, and other medications to increase neurotransmitter levels.

The traumatic forces involved in concussion and in those with post-concussion syndrome have been shown to result in a decrease of glucose use by the brain, and changes in cerebral blood flow.

Previous research supports early treatment of high dose omega-3 fatty acids improving outcomes from traumatic brain injury. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3s and their regulation of inflammatory pathways has been documented; however, their effects on TBI-induced microglial activation and neuroinflammation have not been investigated.

In a study published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation, researchers demonstrated that omega-3 supplementation inhibited TBI-induced microglial activation and secondary inflammatory factors (i.e., TNF-α, IL-6), decreased brain edema, reduced neuronal apoptosis, and improved neurological function in an experimental animal model.

This study showed that microglia-induced inflammation was significantly increased after TBI, which is associated with brain swelling and neurological deficits. After omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, microglial activation was inhibited and there was a decrease in TBI-induced inflammatory factors. The brain needs to be saturated with high doses of omega-3 fatty acids in order for it to heal. If these individuals do not have an optimal supply of EPA and DHA, healing will likely be impaired. On the other hand, there is no negative impact supporting these patients with optimal nutrition to regain as much function as possible.

Additional Nutrient Considerations

Glycerophosphocholine (GPC) is a form of choline that has been shown to protect and repair damaged brain cells.1 It has been used to help prevent damage to brain cells after blood flow, and thus oxygen, has been cut off to those cells.  GPC also supports the brain’s ability to recover after traumatic brain injuries and helps to reduce the symptoms associated with concussion and post-concussion syndrome.

In one study, twenty-three patients who suffered from concussions and cerebral contusions were given GPC for a three month period. At the end of the study, ninety-six percent of the patients’ mental faculties had improved significantly.2

Other brain-supportive nutrients to consider include acetyl-l-carnitine, inositol, phosphatidylserine, krill oil, and MCT oil.


Source: Chen X. et al. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation attenuates microglial-induced inflammation by inhibiting the HMGB1/TLR4/NF-κB pathway following experimental traumatic brain injury. Journal of Neuroinflammation 2017. 14:143. 24 July 2017

Additional References:

  1. Kidd PM; GPC (GlyceroPhosphoCholine), Ortho-Nutraceutical for Active Living and Healthy Aging. January 2004.
  2. Mandat T, et al. A preliminary evaluation of risk and efficacy of early choline alphoscerate treatment in craniocerebral injury. Neurol Neurochir Pol; 2003;37:1231-1238.
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