Mar 23, 2016
Fish Oil May Reduce Head Trauma

DHA, an Omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil, may help protect athletes’ brains from head trauma such as concussions, according to a recent study by researchers at Texas Christian University. Led by TCU Team Physician Dr. Michele Kirk, the researchers found that football players who regularly consumed fish oils showed a decrease in neurofilament light (NFL), a biological marker of brain trauma.

A separate study on football players showed that NFL levels increase as the number of head impacts increase. In the TCU study, of the 80 football players who participated, those who regularly consumed fish oils had lower NFL levels than their teammates who did not.

“If they were on the DHA, they had a 40% reduction in that neurofilament compared to those that were on the placebo,” Kirk told the website Breakthroughs. “That may indicate that DHA can be protective against some brain trauma.”

Previous animal studies have shown the protective qualities of DHA, according to Breakthroughs. Dr. Floyd Ski Chilton, professor of physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, told the site that DHA might work by helping prevent inflammation associated with injuries, but more research is still needed.

“For the DHA to have this type of effect, that’s quite striking and quite promising,” he said. “DHA is probably a lot more important in adolescence and later development than we first thought. We certainly first focused all on the third trimester of pregnancy when the brain was growing so much and that’s a proven area, but we’re now beginning to understand it’s important in childhood and adolescence.”

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