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2012-01-20

Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Repair Nerve Damage

A recently published study suggests that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) could protect nerve cells and have beneficial effects on their recovery after peripheral  nerve damage. Despite the ability of peripheral nerves to regenerate, and recent medical advances, recovery from nerve damage is usually poor, and sufferers usually live with pain, muscle weakness or paralysis.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the body's normal growth and development and have been widely researched for their various health benefits. Since the body cannot manufacture omega-3 fatty acids, they have to be consumed in foods such as oily fish, or through omega-3 supplements containing fish, flax, or krill oil (just to name a few).

In this new study on mice, researchers looked at the types of nerve damage caused by an accident or injury--stretching and oxygen-deprivation. The team found that both types of damage killed a significant number of nerve cells; however, they found that nerve cells enrichment with omega-3 fatty acids had significant protection and reduced the amount of cell death.

The researchers then found that a high level of omega-3 fatty acids helped mice to recover from nerve injury more quickly and more fully--and that their muscles were less likely to waste following nerve damage.

Of course, these results need to be repeated in a human clinical trial, but given the vast array of benefits from these essential fatty acids, I believe it's wise to start supplementing now (if you haven't already been taking these for years, as many of us have).

Source: Improved Outcome after Peripheral Nerve Injury in Mice with Increased Levels of Endogenous Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

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