Fish Oil for Stroke Recovery

Fish Oil for Stroke Recovery

Fish oil for stroke recovery – Is it a fishy story?

If you’ve been reading some of the online stroke recovery forums, you’ve probably come across a few people touting the benefits of fish oil for stroke recovery. But is there any science to back up those claims? We’re here to settle the score once and for all.

What Do the Studies Say about Fish Oil for Stroke Recovery?

Yes, there are some studies that link fish oil to stroke recovery – so it’s not a false claim. However, the brain-boosting nutrient found within fish oil that should be getting most of the attention is DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid. Now, there are many, many studies linking DHA to brain health, brain development, and brain protection during stroke. So, the star of the show should be DHA, not fish oil.

Wait, so DHA or Fish Oil for Stroke Recovery?

Since DHA seems to be a goldmine for all things related to brain health, shouldn’t we focus on DHA instead of fish oil? Well, here is why we think fish oil gets so much more attention than DHA:

DHA can be found in a limited number of strange dietary sources, like algae, organ meat (i.e. liver), fatty fish, and fish oil. Now, it requires a certain palette in order to enjoy algae and organ meat, so this could explain why most of the attention goes to fish oil for stroke recovery. But what about fish?

Is Fish Better than Fish Oil?

Now that we know why fish oil gets so much more attention than the other dietary sources of DHA, let’s discuss the benefits of choosing fish over fish oil.

This article on fish vs fish oil supplements makes a great point: Eating actual fish provides much more health benefits than taking a fish oil supplement. While fish oil contains higher levels of DHA than fish, your body absorbs the DHA from fish much better than it does from the supplement. Fish also contains other vitamins and minerals that fish oil supplements don’t provide – so opt for fish over fish oil when you can.

The Final Score

In conclusion, we’ve learned these key points:

  • Fish oil can help with stroke recovery
  • DHA – which is found in fish oil – is a more potent source of the brain-boosting benefits
  • Getting your DHA from actual fish is better than taking a fish oil supplement

Now that the score has been settled… Fish tacos anyone?

How do you get your DHA? Fish or fish oil supplements?

  • Tamara Pots

    I read an article on the website of Sara Gottfried MD this morning in which she talks about a study in which people took 4000 mg of fish oil a day for a few weeks and lowered their cortisol levels that way. And that’s what I need! But now I’m confused about what to do, because I wanted to start using valerian, once I’m back from my holiday. It’s not a smart thing to start with fish oil AND valerian, because I need to find out what works. Maybe I’ll start with the fish oil first and I eat fish a few times a week anyway, so I get the other vitamins and minerals.

  • Tamara Pots

    interesting article. I have a VERY critical inner voice that’s not compassionate at all!
    Thanks for the advice about the fish oil. I just came back from dinner and I ate salmon, just like yesterday evening. So I’ve already started my fish therapy!

    • Flint Rehab

      Fish therapy! LOL that’s brilliant!

  • Andrew Ichwan

    thank you for the article. my dad is stroke survivor and still on healing process. whats the dose he should take on daily base?

    • Flint

      Hey Andrew! I’m not sure what the dosage for your father should be – that’s a question better suited for your doctor. But I’m glad that you’ve found something that could help 🙂 best of luck on the road to recovery

  • Tamara Pots

    I’ve been on fish oil for 12 weeks now, 3 times a day 1 gram. But it didn’t help. Well, at least I tried. This didn’t work for me, but what I think will help is more social connections. Fortunately I have great insurance so I can afford to work as a volunteer in whatever I like. Problem is that most volunteer jobs aren’t done by people in their 40s, but by seniors.

    • Flint

      Hi Tamara! It’s good to see you on the blog again 🙂 I’m also glad to hear that you’re still doing volunteer work! I’m sorry that the people you’re connecting with aren’t in your age group as you’d like, though. We just started a stroke support group on Facebook, if you want to give that a peek https://www.facebook.com/groups/flintstrokesupportgroup/ there is definitely people of all ages there!

    • Francis E Williams

      Hello Tamara, this is one “Senior” who read your story about your Stroke recovery. I commented here …. https://www.flintrehab.com/2015/brunnstrom-stages-stroke-recovery/ ….for you. I don’t think anything but a balanced nutritional diet will help you. But I do advocate a “little of what you fancy” (might not neccessarily do you any good), will boost your brains emotions to assist recovery. You need to get out and socially interact, get distracted and involved with as many people as you can, take your mind away from any negative emotion. It has worked for me, and I can only be considered a “loner” and very self opinionated and independant. . I can not wave that “magic wand” for you or give you “quick fixes”, there are none. It’s down to you to “talk yourself up” and prove you have the ability to tell your brain to behave !..I may not be as sensible as I should be here, but let me at least provide you with real evidence that strokes are not the end of life as we know it…Bill.

  • Tony Hayes

    My mom suffered a hemorrhagic stroke thanksgiving day and has been in a rehab center for several days now. Unfortunately she’s on a puréed diet now so at the center which serves the typical American diet: meat/potatoes/veggie. I’m fine with that for now as she needs the calories but fish is no way near being in her radar until she can eat normally again (which means I can bring it in to her!) however, all fish oils are not alike. There’s bottom shelf and top shelf brands. I’m a fitness trainer, health coach, AND a nutrition sales consultant for a physican’s brand of supplements. Started my mom on our liquid EPA/DHA 2400mg (99Omg DHA) twice daily. It’s the next best thing to actual fish all things considered. Thanks for article!

    • Flint

      I’m sorry to hear about what happened to your mother, Tony. I hope she has a safe and speedy recovery. And thanks for the comment! Very useful insight