Researchers said on Sunday they had found a way to sneak vitamin C past the so-called blood-brain barrier, the gatekeeper that protects the brain from infection.

Vitamin E could attack brain disease Alzheimers, study shows
As taken from Daily Nutrition News Yahoo,Dec. 1997

They said if their method worked in people, it could offer a new approach to treating Alzheimer's disease and other diseases that come from damage to brain cells.

This is because vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, working to prevent the damage caused by everyday life, damage that leads to diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and perhaps even Alzheimer's.

"We now know how to get large amounts of an antioxidant into the brain," Dr. David Agus, a cancer specialist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Center in New York, said in a statement.

Some recent studies have shown that vitamin E, another strong antioxidant, can work against Alzheimer's.

In April 1997 a team at New York's Columbia University found that both vitamin E and the anti-Parkinson's drug selegiline appeared to delay for six to seven months the milestones of the disease, such as required institutionalization, inability to perform basic activities of living, severe dementia and death.

Vitamin C might be another candidate for helping prevent cell damage, but when people take vitamin C orally, most of it is lost in the urine and wasted, because it dissolves in water.

Agus's team looked at how vitamin C gets into the brain naturally. Reporting in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, it said it had found that cells could break the vitamin down into ascorbic acid and dehydroascorbic acid.

Cells use vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid.

The researchers injected mice with both forms, killed them and looked at their brains. They found that the mice injected with dehydroascorbic acid had more ascorbic acid in their brain cells afterward.

"Our findings from this study have therapeutic implications, because we can potentially increase vitamin C concentrations in the brain by increasing the blood level of dehydroascorbic acid," Dr. David Golde, who also worked on the study, said.

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