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No Evidence Omega-3 Fatty Acids Repair Nerve Damage

Maxim Sorokopud Maxim Sorokopud
16th April 2021
No Evidence Omega-3 Fatty Acids Repair Nerve Damage
The link between omega-3 fatty acids and nerve repair is unproven (Getty Images)

The Claim

Omega-3 fatty acids can repair nerve damage in humans.

Emerging story

There are a range of health benefits that are currently associated with consuming omega-3 fatty acids.

Some sources have even claimed that omega-3 fatty acids can repair damaged nerves in humans. 

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Misbar’s Analysis

Misbar’s investigation has discovered that claims such as that “omega-3 fatty acids are nerve repairing superheroes” are unproven. The website that uses that claim, Nerveology, uses three studies, none of which state with certainty that omega-3 fatty acids can repair nerve damage. 

Instead, one of the studies discovered that omega-3 fatty acids “were more efficacious than krill oil" in improving TG plasma levels in humans. But the same study also discovered that “only krill oil was able to improve high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and apolipoprotein ai levels.” And it discovered that both omega-3 fatty acids and krill oil were able to reduce high-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels, but krill oil was better at this. 

The second study in the Nerveology article was conducted on mice. The results of this experiment concluded that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids “could lead to a secondary effect on regeneration after a PNI [peripheral nerve injury.]” But the study also stated that it was “difficult to distinguish between neuroprotection and an increase in regeneration.” 

The third study analyzed the absorption rate of krill oil and fish oil in rats. The study concluded that “the content of EPA [eicosapentaenoic acid] and DHA [docosahexaenoic acid] remaining in the blood and brain after KOs [krill oil] ingestion were higher than those following ingestion of FO [fish oil.]” It makes zero claims about omega-3 fatty acids repairing nerve damage. 

Our investigation was able to find a 2017 study of omega-3 fatty acids on mice that had slightly more promising conclusions. This study fed eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid concentrated fish oil to mice for 10 days after the mice had received “partial sciatic nerve ligation” at the start of the test. The results “point to the regenerative and possibly protective properties of a combined EPA and DHA oral administration after peripheral nerve injury, as well as its anti-neuroinflammatory activity.” 

However, the results of one 10 day test upon mice do not conclusively prove that omega-3 fatty acids can repair human nerves. It is possible that this is the case, but studies need to be undertaken upon human subjects before this can be confidently claimed. 

Further, these claims can be dangerous, as too much consumption of foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil, can be detrimental to human health. 

Misbar’s Classification


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