A new report from the Institute of Medicine says military personnel who suffer traumatic brain injury (TBI) must receive adequate protein and calories immediately after the trauma and through the first two weeks of treatment.
This is the only nutrition-related approach to treating TBI that the committee recommended the U.S. Department of Defense 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.
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.
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 said.
TBI is a significant cause of death and disability among personnel serving in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also contributes to nearly one-third of all injury-related deaths in the United States, making it a major health concern for the civilian population as well.