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Omega-3 may help protect brain from injury

MORGANTOWN, W.Va., Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Studies in animals suggest fish body oils -- believed protective for the heart -- may help protect against traumatic brain injury, U.S. researchers suggest.

Dr. Julian E. Bailes of West Virginia University in Morgantown says in the experiment, rats were treated with omega-3 fatty acid docosahexanoic acid -- known as DHA and found in fish body oils -- at varying doses, equivalent to those used in humans taking DHA supplements.

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After one month of treatment, tissue and behavioral responses to induced traumatic brain injury were compared between groups of treated animals.

The study, scheduled to be published in the February issue of Neurosurgery, says the tissue damage caused by traumatic brain injury was significantly reduced in rats taking the highest dose of DHA: 40 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.

In addition, cellular findings included a significant reduction in expression of a protein -- beta amyloid protein -- associated in the development of Alzheimer's disease, the study says.

The DHA supplement used in the study was isolated from algae species, Bailes says.

"The essential concept of daily dietary supplementation with DHA, so that those at significant risk may be preloaded to provide protection against the acute effects of traumatic brain injury, has tremendous public health implications," Bailes says in a statement.

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However, the researchers say more research will be needed to determine the true benefits, if any, of preventive treatment with DHA.

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