Essential fatty acids are called “essential” for a reason: they are essential for human health. And two new studies—both conducted on omega-3 fatty acids—are highlighting just how diverse these health benefits are.
One study, a review of dozens of earlier studies, found that omega-3s had a “preventive role in heart failure.” The second study, conducted on American athletes, found that omega-3s helped protect the brain of football players.
Though these studies coroborate research conducted in the past two decades, the additional findings are welcome news. Since the FDA strictly limits the health claims that can be made regarding omega-3s, ongoing research will help in the push for additional claims.
To observe the benefit of omega-3 supplementation on football brain injuries researchers collected data on two male teams in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Players on one team received daily omega-3 fatty acid supplementation while the other team served as a control group.
Repetitive sub-concussive head impacts over the course of a season were associated with increases in levels of serum neurofilament light (Nf-L). Nf-L is a biomarker of nerve fiber injury and a marker of head trauma.
However, the researchers found that daily doses of omega-3 fatty acids throughout the season attenuated these Nf-L increases. The college athletes receiving the omega-3 supplements also had significantly higher omega-3 Index scores, and improved omega-6 to omega-3 ratios, compared to athletes in the control group.
The findings were published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition in September 2021.
“These findings suggest a cardio and neuroprotective effect of combined EPA, DPA and DHA supplementation in American-style football athletes,” the researchers wrote in their conclusion. “Further studies are warranted to examine the differential effects of these omega-3 fatty acids.”
Optimal E.F.A provides potent essential fatty acids via all-vegetarian sources—and provides them in the correct ratio of omega-3s and omega-6s.
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