Wondering if omega 3 supplements actually help with stroke recovery? It’s important to look at sources containing scientific evidence, especially when talking about supplements.
To help you navigate the clinical jargon on omega 3s for stroke recovery, we’re digging into the latest research. You’ll soon learn whether or not omega 3s actually help.
Before we get started, it helps to understand what omega 3s are to begin with.
What Are Omega 3 Fatty Acids?
Omega 3s are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid. There are 3 types of omega 3s that you should know about: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Interestingly, when you consume ALA, your body can make EPA and DHA out of it.
If that gets confusing, just remember this: you need to focus on getting ALA from your diet because your body cannot produce it on its own, unlike the other types of omega 3s.
Furthermore, you should aim to get your omega 3s from dietary sources. When that’s not possible, consider supplementation with your doctor’s approval. (See: the top 7 vitamins for stroke recovery)
Important: It’s critical to check with your doctor because omega 3’s are a natural blood thinner. If you have a history of hemorrhagic stroke or a blood disorder, your doctor will likely advise against omega 3 supplements.
Before we explain the best ways to get ALA in your diet, let’s dig into the science behind omega 3s for stroke recovery.
The Latest Study Supporting Omega 3 for Stroke Recovery
A recent 2019 study indicated that omega 3s offer neurological benefit after stroke.
Administration of omega 3s after stroke was shown to reduce stroke-related deficits, likely by protecting the nerve cells in the brain.
The study was conducted in mice, and we still need human research to further explore these benefits. But this study focused on aged mice, whereas all other studies focused on young mice.
This is significant because the risk of stroke increases with age, so this study takes us one step closer to drawing a link between omega 3s and stroke recovery.
Show Me More Science
While there isn’t a huge pool of science supporting the use of omega 3s for stroke recovery, there are a couple more studies worth looking at.
Most notably, omega 3s were reported to prevent the loss of brain cells and promote the restoration of white matter in the brain, according to another 2016 study.
This is significant because stroke recovery revolves around the process of neuroplasticity: rewiring the brain to encourage healthy parts to take on the functions damaged by stroke.
If omega 3s can help prevent further deterioration of the brain and promote recovery of brain tissue, that’s a great reason to consider taking omega 3s for stroke recovery.
Furthermore, the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in omega 3s may be linked to potential benefits in the treatment of stroke, according to another 2016 study.
How to Get Your Omega 3s
If you like the benefits that these studies propose, we suggest getting your omega 3s from your diet. If you want to supplement, talk to your doctor first.
Here are some of the healthiest foods that contain omega 3, starting with the most potent:
- Brussel sprouts
If you struggle with getting omega 3 from dietary sources, talk to your doctor about supplementation.
Your doctor will be able to tell you if omega 3 supplements may negatively interact with any medication you are taking, or if your medical history would be a contraindication for taking them.
Omega 3 and Stroke
Omega 3 fatty acids are critical for brain health and show promising benefits for stroke recovery.
Getting these nutrients through food is ideal, but you can consider supplementation if it’s safe for you.