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Protein and calories can help lessen effects of severe traumatic brain injury
Date:4/20/2011

WASHINGTON To help alleviate the effects of severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), the U.S. Department of Defense should ensure that all military personnel with this type of injury receive adequate protein and calories immediately after the trauma and through the first two weeks of treatment, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine. Evidence from several studies of severely brain-injured patients shows that providing energy and protein to patients early reduces inflammation and improves their outcomes, said the committee of experts who wrote the report.

This is the only nutrition-related approach to treating TBI that the committee recommended DOD implement at this time based on its review of the possible benefits of nutrients, dietary supplements, and specific diets to improve outcomes for TBI ranging from mild to severe. Several other nutritional approaches show potential for reducing the symptoms of brain injury, but there is not yet enough evidence about their effectiveness to recommend their adoption.

The committee identified the B vitamin choline, the amino acid-like compound creatine, n-3 fatty acids commonly known as EPA and DHA, and zinc as the most promising areas of investigation and recommended that DOD scientists and other researchers give them priority attention. These approaches are ones for which human clinical trials have been undertaken or are ongoing.

Other approaches, including antioxidants, flavonoids, ketogenic diets, and vitamin D, have less supporting evidence that has come solely from animal studies or from studies in people with different conditions. Although researchers must prioritize resources, DOD should continue to monitor the clinical literature for any new findings about the potential of these nutrients and diets in lessening brain injury effects, the report says.

The research priorities outlined in the report could generate information that provides health professionals with
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Contact: Christine Stencel
news@nas.edu
202-334-2138
National Academy of Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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