Protecting Nerves


Vitamin E and omega-3 protect against nerve damage


Vitamin E reduced chemotherapy nerve damage

Chemotherapy can damage nerves in the hands and feet—known as peripheral neuropathy—reducing sensitivity to temperature, touch, and pain. There is no preventive treatment. In this analysis, doctors reviewed eight studies covering 488 cancer patients on chemotherapy who took a placebo or 450 to 900 IU of vitamin E per day, from the start of therapy up to three months afterward.

Overall compared to placebo, those taking vitamin E were 18 percent less likely to develop peripheral neuropathy. In trials using 900 IU of vitamin E, chances declined 69 percent. One of the most powerful chemo drugs, cisplatin, treats a wide range of cancers. Among those taking cisplatin, compared to placebo, the vitamin E group was 72 percent likely to develop peripheral neuropathy.


Reference: Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism; 2021, Vol. 77, No. 3, 127-37


Omega-3 reduced athletic head trauma

American football players experience concussion in severe impacts, but also milder, non-concussive impacts that may damage the brain over time. In this study, 31 college athletes took 2,000 mg of DHA, 560 mg of EPA, and 320 mg of DPA per day, or did not take these supplements, during the pre-season and regular season.

To identify sub-concussive injury, doctors measured levels of a biomarker, neurofilament light (Nf-L), which increases when fibers that carry nerve signals from nerves to the body, called axons, are damaged. From the end of pre-season through the regular season, Nf-L levels were 50 percent higher in the non-omega-3 group, while remaining stable for omega-3. By the end of the study, for those taking omega-3, Omega-3 Index scores had increased to 7.5 percent from 4.3 percent, while decreasing in the non-omega-3 group. Doctors say 8.0 percent is the ideal Omega-3 Index score.


Society of Sports Nutrition; 2021, Vol. 18, No. 65

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