Adding This Vitamin To Your Diet Could Prevent a Stroke

By on September 24, 2013
Although previous studies found that vitamin B could protect people from heart attack and stroke, a new study by Zhengzhou University in China says it may only be useful for lowering your stroke risk.

Researchers also say that it also matters which type of vitamin B you’re consuming, as one key B vitamin could actually reduce its protective effect against a sudden stroke.

“Based on our results, the ability of vitamin B to reduce stroke risk may be influenced by a number of other factors, such as the body’s absorption rate, the amount of folic acid or vitamin B12 concentration in the blood, and whether a person has kidney disease or high blood pressure,” says XU Yuming, author of the study. “Before you begin taking any supplements, you should always talk to your doctor.”

The study, which examined the effects of vitamin B supplementation on a person’s stroke risk, evaluated a total of 14 clinical trials that involved around 55,000 people. Those who took a vitamin B supplement, even at the lowest dosage, were compared against people who skipped a daily vitamin B supplement. Researchers then followed them for six months.

The result? Nearly 2,500 people suffered a stroke during the evaluation–but taking a vitamin B supplement seemed to reduce a person’s risk by 7 percent.

It seems small, but not so if you do the math: In a population of 100,000 people, this miniscule change in vitamin supplementation could save nearly 7,000 lives.

“Ischemic strokes can have many different causes, the most common being hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking and obesity,” says Dr. Rafael Alexander Ortis, a director of neuro-endovascular surgery and stroke at Lenox City Hospital in New York. “There is a group of patients that may suffer a stroke due to deficiency of vitamins and enzymes. It is appropriate to perform a comprehensive work-up, including [for] vitamin deficiencies, in patients that have suffered a stroke.”

Unfortunately, simply swallowing more B vitamins isn’t the solution here, say experts. While B vitamins may be associated with a lowered stroke risk, some vitamins, such as folic acid (a type of vitamin B), can actually reduce the efficacy of B vitamin supplements.

Your best bet, as experts suggest, is to seek help from a medical professional first.

“The study also showed taking folic acid, which is also known as vitamin B9, could reduce the benefits of taking of vitamin B supplements,” writes the NY Daily News. ” Still, the researchers advise that you talk to your doctor before taking any supplements.”

How to Add More B Vitamins to Your Diet

If you already eat a healthy diet, then there’s a good chance you’re already getting enough vitamin B–but what if you don’t?

In this case, taking a vitamin B supplement could help, but be wary of what it contains. Folic acid is known to reduce the efficacy of vitamin B supplements, so always read the label beforehand. Also keep in mind too much isn’t a good thing–in high doses, vitamin B can be toxic, so make sure to talk with your doctor beforehand about the appropriate dosage you should take to benefit your health.

Readers: What are some other ways you incorporate vitamin B into your diet?

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