The Top 7 Nutrients You Need For Healing Concussion (Brain Injury)




Timothy M. Marshall, Ph.D.

Right off the bat, the top three nutrients (that are often deficient) and which I refer to as the Holy Triad in Brain Repair and Neuroprotection that you need to maximize healing processes in the brain and nervous system are:

1, 2, 3 – Magnesium, Lithium, and Zinc – these three, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory brain nutrients are really inseparable and work interdependently to regulate the body’s primary excitatory receptor system – known as the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor. When this receptor becomes over-activated or dysregulated by injury, mineral deficiencies, or environmental toxins (e.g. heavy metals), a number of problems can arise such as depression, anxiety, irritability, and sleep disturbances.

Following brain injury – the brain essentially becomes magnesium deficient, and if allowed to continue – contributes further to the injury. In chemistry, magnesium and lithium possess what is known as a “diagonal relationship” on the Periodic Table, which makes them similar chemically. This feature is further supported by their similar ionic radii (72 pm for Mg2+ ; 76 pm for Li+) which allows the two ions to influence similar biological systems such as the NMDA receptor. Zinc (Zn2+) also shares some similarities to the two minerals with an ionic radius of 74 pm, and its ability to inhibit the same receptor. 

So, how can you benefit from this information? By making sure you’re getting enough of these 3 nutrients!

So, how much is enough? For most people, a good starting dose for magnesium (glycinate) is 400-800 mg per day; lithium (orotate) 5-20 mg per day; zinc (glycinate, citrate, or monomethionine) 15-30 mg per day.

Dosing is largely based on your body weight, and your unique nutritional requirements. For example, if you drink a lot of coffee or alcohol, or are experiencing a lot of stress – you’ll be flushing out more magnesium, lithium, zinc, B-vitamins, and vitamin C, which are all highly water-soluble – further increasing your requirement for these nutrients (above and beyond that of the head injury, which already increases your requirement, as well).

As “companion nutrients”, magnesium, lithium, and zinc have a synergistic relationship where they support one another in boosting the body’s antioxidant defenses – such as glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase, and catalase – and ALL three minerals are needed for the function and utilization of several B-vitamins and the production of neural growth factors such as BDNF, stem cell production and mobilization, and neurogenesis (the formation of new neurons). These processes are essential for all healing processes in the brain and nervous system.

The richest natural source of magnesium are nuts, seeds, vegetables and certain fruits such as bananas and avocados. For lithium – milk, eggs, and certain spring waters (e.g. Vichy, France; Lithia Springs, GA) have the highest levels in nature with smaller amounts found in fruits, vegetables, and grains. For zinc – oysters, seafood, red meat, eggs, and nuts and seeds are all good sources.

4. Selenium – like magnesium, lithium, and zinc – selenium is also important in healing processes, and neurogenesis. It is essential for the production of the powerful antioxidant enzyme, glutathione peroxidase (GPx), thyroid function, and promotes the elimination of mercury and arsenic. Selenium is needed for a strong immune system, and for protection against heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic, cadmium, lead, and excess fluoride exposure. Selenium is depleted by environmental toxins such as mercury, arsenic, and glyphosate. 150-200 mcg of supplemental selenium per day is safe and beneficial, and is best taken as an organic form such as high-selenium yeast (selenomethionine) or selenium glycinate.

5. B-complex vitamins are critically important to a wide range of energy producing, stress-reducing (promotes healing), homeostatically-balancing processes in the body. If you’re low or deficient in just one B-vitamin such as B1 (thiamine) or B12 (methyl-cobalamin), energy production will decrease, healing processes will be impaired, and you’re probably not going to be feeling too great on a number of levels. The B-complex are depleted by the same factors that promote the loss of ALL water-soluble nutrients (e.g. magnesium, zinc, lithium, vitamin C) – excess intake of refined sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and chronic stress – common to millions of Americans, and hundreds of industrialized nations around the world.

6. Vitamin C is one of the most underappreciated nutrients mostly because it’s so widely available and we’ve grown accustomed to always having it around. Vitamin C isn’t as chic as alpha-lipoic acid or N-acetyl-cysteine, but the truth is, it’s an exceptionally important nutrient that is absolutely foundational to our health, energy production, antioxidant systems, healing processes, and the detoxification of various toxins and heavy metals. 1,000-3,000 mg per day (or more, if desired) of vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid (most electron-rich form) or as a buffered form such as calcium or magnesium ascorbate offer multiple benefits, especially when taken in conjunction with the aforementioned nutrients.

7. Omega-3 Fatty Acids (DHA and EPA from fish oils or algae) – the brain has a high concentration of DHA, and both EPA and DHA possess anti-inflammatory effects throughout the brain, nervous system, and entire body. They’re crucial for energy production, neurogenesis, and healing processes in the brain and nervous system. You want to make sure you’re getting at least 1,000 mg of DHA and 1,000 mg of EPA per day, and shoot for supplements which have more EPA than DHA. EPA has greater anti-inflammatory activity, so having more EPA (relative to DHA) will have a greater calming effect on the brain and nervous system by further reducing neuro-inflammation (i.e. neuro-irritation) to a greater degree than a formula that is DHA dominant (has more DHA than EPA).

Following brain trauma – the brain loses significant amounts of magnesium, lithium, zinc, sodium, potassium and other water-soluble nutrients such as vitamin C and the B-complex, which need to be replaced for maximum healing to take place. And remember with all nutrients, quality is key. So, get the highest-grade, top-tier, professional-grade products whenever you can.

About the author: Dr. Marshall is a neuropharmacologist, nutritional biochemist, functional medicine consultant with a passion for natural approaches to healing and nutrient therapeutics. Dr. Marshall completed his doctoral training in Medical Pharmacology (specializing in Neuropharmacology) at the University of Arizona, College of Medicine with sub-specialties in Medicinal Chemistry and Toxicology, and has a Master’s in Chemistry and Bachelor’s degree. in Biochemistry from the same institution. He is on the board of Healing Arizona Veterans (Tucson, AZ; Patriot Clinic), and is the author of the landmark publications, “The Next Generation in Brain Recovery and Neuroregeneration” (JPANDS 2017), “Lithium as a Nutrient” (JPANDS 2015), “Lithium: An Essential Micronutrient” (2013), and has two revolutionary, patent-pending, brain supplements, BrainFood-7 (General Public) and MagLith+ (Clinical Use), which will be available soon online and at a store near you! www.dr-marshall.comShareShare The Top 7 Nutrients You Need For Healing Concussion (Brain Injury)

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