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High-Dose Omega-3 Supplementation May Help Protect Against Head Trauma

Repeated incidences of repetitive subconcussive head impacts have been linked with long-term negative effects to brain health and increases in Nf-L, a biomarker of nerve fiber injury. A new study has found that high-dose omega-3 supplements may help reduce levels of Nf-L and increase omega-3 index scores.

Participants in the study included 66 American football college players. Half received an omega-3 supplement containing 2000mg DHA, 560mg EPA, and 320mg DPA for 89 days during a 131 day period. The other half did not receive the supplement. Blood samples were taken at baseline and at different time periods that coincided with changes in practice intensity, the amount of physical contact, and the number and magnitude of anticipated head impacts. The blood samples were used to measure Nf-L levels, omega-3 levels, and omega-6 levels.

At the end of the study period, participants in the omega-3 group did not see significant increases in Nf-L levels. In comparison, Nf-L levels in the control group increased by 50%.

Participants in the omega-3 group saw significant increases in EPA (111% increase) and DHA levels (110% increase), compared to a 55% increase in EPA and no significant increases in DHA in the control group. The omega-3 group also saw increases in the omega-3 index score from 4.3% to 7.5%, compared to a decrease in the control group. 

Participants in the omega-3 group also saw a reduction in the omega-6/omega-3 ratio, which has been associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases. Participants in the control group saw a decrease in their omega-3 index score.

The study was conducted by researchers from Baylor University. The study was published online ahead of print on September 27, 2021 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 

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