COQ10: CoQ10 is called the energizing antioxidant, as it is essential for producing ATP (energy) and eliminating free radical toxins. Coenzyme Q10 deficiencies can lead to fatigue, mitochondrial problems, slower response times, memory deficits, increased waste in the brain and body, and an increased susceptibility to additional neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. An important note for brain injury patients is that CoQ10 can be inhibited by many medications that are commonly prescribed in TBI. These drugs include antidepressants, beta blockers, and antipsychotics, as well as those designed to treat diabetes and high cholesterol. Write up by Kellie Pokrifka
Ginkgo Biloba: Ginkgo is a supplement that can be taken either to prevent neurodegeneration or in treatment of brain damage that has already taken place, like in TBI. Ginkgo is used for neuroprotection and helps reduce neuronal cell loss after injury. It helps improve motor and cognitive function. It can also increase blood circulation to the brain, which is frequently a problem after injury. Without the blood supply, nutrients can not come in and toxins and waste cannot get out. —It can be taken in the acute or chronic stage of recovery, that is immediately following TBI or even years later. Write up by Kellie Pokrifka
Curcumin: Curcumin is the active ingredient in Turmeric. It’s critical for repairing the damaged blood brain barrier and helps reduce neuro inflammation. Both of these issues occur after concussion and can drastically delay healing time if they are not addressed. Write up by Kellie Pokrifka
Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC): Noticeable effects of ALC include improvements in memory, cognition (ie a reduction in brain fog), and mood. ALC helps improve the health of the mitochondria, which produce all of the energy in the body. Unhealthy mitochondria leads to lethargy and an increase in toxic free radicals. ALC also increases brain blood perfusion, which just means blood can get deeper into the brain in order to bring in nutrients and clear out waste. ALC increases neuronal connections and improves dendritic networks, which means an increase in how brain cells can talk with each other. This antioxidant may help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. Write up by Kellie Pokrifka
Fish Oil: The brain is made of DHA. Blood (nutrients) is able to penetrate the brain deeper with EPA. Fish Oil combines them both. Military doctor Michael D Lewis created the Omega Protocol to saturate the brain with what it needs to repair- Omega-3's. His recommendations for mTBI/ concussion involve mega doses of fish oil (5 capsules or 3000 mg per dose) 3x/ day. As symptoms disappear, he lowers it to 5 capsules 2x/day, and then back to the preventative dose of 5 capsules once daily. Pictured here are two of his trusted, high-quality brands. Vegan brands, such as Dsm-Martek, are also available. Dr. Lewis' nonprofit BHERI runs a website with more information at brainhealtheducation.org Write up by Kellie Pokrifka
Patients suggestions and reviews
I take Omega 3 400 mg x2 per day, Magnisium 400mg x2 per day, B12 400mg x1 per day This combination is helping me heal and also assists with concentration. When I don’t take one of these vitamins (any of them) I feel off and groggy.
To combat the fatigue, I bought vitamins, which included B, B-Complex, B-12 and I have found my energy stabilized but I did not feel extremely energetic. Along with the B vitamins, I have tried any vitamin that showed it was good for energy, mental clarity, detoxifications, and blood flow. I cycled unintentionally between vitamins to allow my body to produce it itself. I tried the following vitamins, in addition to the B vitamins, which I feel have helped – C, D, E, Fish Oil, Omega-3, CoQ-10, PQQ, Bacopa, Rhodiola, Ginkgo Biloba, whey protein shakes, amino acids, and protein shakes. I recommend consulting your physician before taking any vitamins.While taking the vitamins I monitored the way I felt and anything that felt unusual. It has been said that very brain injury is different and that each survivor will handle their injury differently. The one most important factor is to stay positive.
I was put on a natural sleeping pill called kaviance and that has helped me in a huge way.
I take Ginkgo 120mg, twice a day to help with Post Concussion Syndrome. For Curcumin, I take 400mg, three times a day. For CoQ10, some evidence suggests taking 200 mg, twice a day after concussion and brain injury. Datis Kharrazian suggests 500-1000mg, 2 times a day after TBI, but, as always, talk to your doctor before starting any supplements as each brain injury is unique.
One of the hardest things involving supplements is finding a quality brand. Everything you read stresses the importance of using the “right” brand, but it is hard to find suggestions of these brands if they are not also selling the product. I will list my suggested brand as a way to help ease your confusion if you are having trouble. It is, by no means, the only or the “best” brand available. - Longvida brand Curcumin is highly bioavailable, meaning that more of the product gets absorbed in the body. Getting nutrients to the brain involves the added challenge of crossing the blood brain barrier, and this brand has been shown to do that more effectively.
Let’s talk about Homocysteine, and why we need to lower these levels after Traumatic Brain Injury. Homocysteine is an amino acid, which are the building blocks of protein, that is naturally occuring in the body. However, levels over 9 micromoles/ liter can drastically increase the risk of neurological problems. It can increase the risk of depression, double the risk of Alzheimer’s, shrink the brain, and dull reflexes. Elevated homocysteine levels can lead to damage to both DNA and endothelial cells, which can lead to free radical build-up, inflammation, and atherosclerosis.
David Perlmutter suggests taking the following if you have elevated levels: Folic Acid (1200mg) , Vitamin B6(100mg) , and TMG (500 mg.) TMG, or trimethylglycine, converts homocysteine back into the beneficial form of methionine.
A DNA mutation will also increase your vulnerability to homocysteine. If you test positive in genetic testings to the MTHFR mutation, this will reduce the enzyme controlling homocysteine levels, allowing them to increase to potentially dangerous levels. If this mutation is present, supplement with the following: Vitamin B9/ folic acid (2mg), Vitamin B6/ pyridoxine (25 mg), and Vitamin B12 (400 mcg). [according to Lea, et all, 2009.]
After my accident I had a million contradictory supplement recommendations. So frustrating... and pricy. So what's the deal with supplements for concussion? Well, unfortunately there's sparse research and most of those studies are on animals... BUT there are several human studies underway so stay tuned. In the meantime, let's talk about arguably the 3 most well supported supplements for concussions. 𝙁𝙞𝙨𝙝 𝙊𝙞𝙡: Omega 3 Fatty acids fall into 2 major types~ DHA and EPA which are known for their anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. As important components of neuronal cell membranes, omega 3s are essential to cognitive function and promote oxygen/nutrient delivery to the brain. 𝘾𝙪𝙧𝙘𝙪𝙢𝙞𝙣: Derived from tumeric, curcumin is known primarily for its anti-inflammatory benefits. 𝘽𝙞𝙤𝙖𝙫𝙖𝙞𝙡𝙖𝙗𝙞𝙡𝙞𝙩𝙮: Curcumin BY ITSELF is NOT absorbed well by the body. Combined with black pepper absorption by the body increases 2000% (add it yourself or buy a blend like @goldynglow). To cross the blood brain barrier curcumin needs to be bound to a phospholipid. I use Pure Encapsulations. Dr. Harkel of @completeconcussions recommends Longvida (available on Amazon). 𝙈𝙖𝙜𝙣𝙚𝙨𝙞𝙪𝙢 𝙏𝙝𝙧𝙚𝙤𝙣𝙖𝙩𝙚: Magnesium supports cognitive function and can help relieve headaches but also MAY have a neuroprotective effect when used preventively. How? Magnesium can decrease the reuptake of calcium during the concussive neurometabolic cascade. Less calcium equals a POTENTIALLY less severe concussion/shorter recovery... keep your eyes on the research.
(Credit CCMI for presenting Mag as prevention) 𝙏𝙖𝙠𝙚 𝙃𝙤𝙢𝙚 𝙋𝙤𝙞𝙣𝙩: There are numerous supplements for concussion recovery BUT few human studies to show their effectiveness specifically for concussion. More research is needed. In the meantime, work with a healthcare professional for your supplement/dietary needs, realizing they are just ONE component of recovery.