We get a lot of questions about what kinds of vitamins and minerals are best for maintaining healthy nerves or helping damaged nerves to recover. Of course, there are a number of different nutrients that are essential for nerve health. Among them are vitamin B12, vitamin D, lipoic acid and more. These help the body carry out important nerve related functions.
Another, perhaps lesser-known nutrient with pain-fighting and nerve-boosting abilities is Omega-3. Researchers have connected Omega-3 fatty acids with a number of nerve related benefits. Lets take a look at the three most promising benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids as they relate to the nerves.
Damaged nerves can cause pain and inflammation throughout the body. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation and ease pain levels in affected areas. In a study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 250 patients experiencing pain were given 1,200 mg/day of Omega-3 fatty acids in a fish oil supplement. After just one month, 60% of respondents reported that their pain levels had decreased and nearly 60% were able to stop taking their prescription anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) for pain.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also important for helping protect the nerves. Researchers from Queen Mary, University of London discovered that Omega-3 fatty acids helped protect nerves from injury. In a study conducted on isolated mouse nerve cells, researchers simulated nerve damage commonly caused by accident or injury by stretching the cells or starving them of oxygen. Researchers discovered that both types of damage resulted in a significant number of nerve cell deaths, but that those cells enriched with omega-3 fatty acids the cells saw superior levels of protection and fewer instances of death.
Promotes Faster Recovery of Damaged Nerves
One of the biggest benefits for those suffering from nerve damage is that Omega-3 fatty acids promote the speedy recovery of damaged nerves. In the same study from the University of London mentioned above, researchers found that a high level of omega-3 fatty acids helped mice to recover from sciatic nerve injury more quickly and more fully, and that their muscles were less likely to waste following nerve damage.
In a separate study by Dr. Gordon Ko, Omega-3 fatty acids were studied for their benefits in restoring the health of the myelin sheath (a protective coating around the nerves) and reducing neuropathic pain in patients suffering from chronic pain. The patients were given between 2,400-7,200 mg/day of Omega-3 fatty acids. All patients in the study reported clinically significant pain reduction and improved function even up to 19 months after the initiation of the study. Dr. Ko concluded that the use of Omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial in the treatment of neuropathic pain.
Since the body does not produce Omega-3 fatty acids, they have to be consumed through dietary sources or supplements. A few rich food sources of Omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, sardines, walnuts, flaxseeds and soybeans. If food sources aren’t enough, you may also want to take a dietary supplement of fish oil or sunflower oil – both of which are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
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