Vitamin C / Vitamin E /Glutathione
Vitamins are generally associated with a positive connotation with respect to perceived health benefits. Preclinical and more recently clinical studies have begun to support the use of vitamins E and C in reducing neuropathology and cognitive deficits following brain trauma. Vitamins C and E and glutathione have all been used in the treatment of TBI and are thought to decrease the free radical induced oxidative damage and cell membrane damage that occur with brain injuries. Vitamin C has been shown both alone and in combination with vitamin E to prevent the oxidative damage in brain injuries. Many studies show early depletion of vitamin C in brain trauma. The studies that are out there show that a high dose vitamin C is probably what is effective.
If you want maximum uptake of vitamin C, liposomal vitamin C is known to be better absorbed. Liposomal vitamin C actually increases blood levels way above regular oral doses of vitamin C; in fact, only 1.5 grams can be absorbed by the body at any given time. There are many ways to obtain liposomal vitamin C, many companies manufacture it and if you do a google search, you will find many videos describing how to use soy lethicin and powdered vitamin C in an ultrasonic mixer to make liposomal vitamin in your own home. One other thing to consider is that most vitamin C is synthetic, meaning it is derived from corn syrup (GMO) or tapioca via an 8 step chemical process. Non synthetic vitamin C is available if you look for it.
Vitamin E is a collective term for eight naturally occurring compounds, four tocopherols (alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-) and four tocotrienols (alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-). Vitamin E is a potent, lipid-soluble, anti-oxidant that is present in high concentrations in the brain. Despite considerable promise in many animal models, recent studies have reported that vitamin E supplementation in MCI and Alzheimer’s disease patients has proven largely ineffective. But such claims have been controversial and there are several factors to consider when critically reviewing the results of these studies. For starters, the doses used in most trials were quite low. Secondly, these trials used alpha-tocopherol, the least active form of vitamin E. Gamma-tocopherol is the main anti-inflammatory component and has been found to be more effective in scavenging free radicals that cause inflammation. Interestingly, the use of alpha-tocopherol supplements significantly reduces serum gamma-tocopherol, and therefore, any potential health benefits. One other point of consideration is that vitamin E can become oxidized itself. For maximal effectiveness and to maintain its anti-oxidant capacity, vitamin E must be given in conjunction with other anti-oxidants like vitamin C or flavonoids. These various factors might account for the null effects of alpha-tocopherol supplementation in patients with TBI and Alzheimer’s disease.
Glutathione, unlike other antioxidants that do their work in the blood or cell membranes, glutathione actually goes to work inside your cells to protect your mitochondria. Your liver produces a certain amount of glutathione naturally. However, many factors including diet, toxin exposure, alcohol, medications, stress and aging can all deplete your glutathione supply – leaving you vulnerable to oxidative stress and free radicals. Glutathione works by decreasing levels of reactive oxygen species molecules that damage cells. Amazingly, researchers actually applied topical glutathione to brain injuries in mice and found that glutathione was able to prevent cell death. Early post-injury treatment with glutathione reversed the behavioral deficits associated with TBI. This has implications in blast induced TBI in a battle field setting.
Another consideration might be to find a doctor who will administer vitamins C, E and glutathione intravenously. Many doctors actually do this in their offices and it is considered relatively safe. There are not many studies done using intravenous vitamins, but I have seen up to 10 grams of vitamin C per day given without any problems. And research supports the use of intravenous vitamins for TBI.
Other supplements that may be effective in supporting mitochondria health are alpha lipoic acid, n-acetylcysteine, acetyl-l carnitine, selenium, zinc, resveratrol, and thiamine. Obviously, this is a lot pills to take for a brain injury. But remember, this is if you wanted to pull out all of the stops and it would only be for some months.