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Dietary Fats, Brain Health, and Performance

Fats get a bad rap.

The bottom line is that fats are actually an essential nutrient of overall health whether an athletes or for general fitness.

And because the body does not naturally produce fat, it must come from outside sources.

Despite the negative image that fat has taken on in the past few decades, there is a such thing as quality fats, but for this particular post, we are going to focus on Omega 3 Fats and research conducted on its intake and concussions.

Fat Benefits 101

Fats aid in regulating body functions such as hormonal balance, in turn helping to regulate muscle contraction, immune function, and blood pressure.

Fats are also necessary for the body to absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K.

More specifically, some fats may also protect the brain and heart along with many other organs in the body.

While some fats are less beneficial than others and their intake should be regulated (saturated fats), Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats are absolutely necessary for performance and overall health.

Omega 3s and Brain Health

Docasahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a type of Omega 3 that is predominantly found in fish and fish oil supplements, and algae oil.

It has been discovered that DHA serves an important function for the brain, heart, skin, and virtually every cell in your body.

Certain studies are beginning to reveal that DHA (and EPA) are so important, that aggressive intake these Omega 3 fatty acids can be highly beneficial for Traumatic Brain Injury, and those who have suffered concussions.

There is a growing body of evidence that high doses of Omega 3 gives the brain better opportunity to heal.

However it should be noted that every person responds differently, and each person should consult with his or her practitioner before taking any supplements.

American Football and Omega 3

A study published in the Medicine and Science and Sport and Exercise examined different dosages of DHA for collegiate football players over the course of a season.

When given 2, 4, or 6 g DHA per day, researchers found an increase in blood markers for DHA in each group.

More specifically, researchers were looking for a link between DHA dosages and brain trauma indicators known as Neurofilament Light (abbreviated NFL).

NFL increases as the number of impacts increase. In other words, the more hits on the field, the more NFL found in the blood.

The question was would increasing DHA reduce levels of NFL, and protect it against brain trauma.

What researchers found was that those athletes on DHA supplements had a 40% reduction in NFL than those taking a placebo.

This led researchers to believe that DHA can potentially be protective against certain brain trauma.

Diet, Fats, and Performance

Though this study done does not provide a definite conclusion on the total effect DHA has on reducing concussions, it does reveal the strong link that diet alone and brain health have.

It also brings to light the potential that omega 3 fat DHA can protect the brain by preventing inflammation associated with injury.