Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and morbidity our society faces as a health concern. The leading cause of stroke is atherosclerosis, involving the arteries of the neck and base of brain. These arteries develop plaque inside the small lumen which can interfere with the flow of blood and oxygen to certain parts of the brain. When this happens, the nerve cells die and this area of the brain is permanently damaged. The resultant damage which is commonly associated with a series of symptoms including loss of speech, sensory deficits, and motor difficulties, including paralysis, is collectively known as a stroke.
Previously, there has been some research published indicating that smoking, diet, and lifestyle factors play a role in the development of stroke risk. However, recently, new evidence has revealed that the use of B-vitamins is associated with a lowered risk of developing a stroke.
New research published in the journal Neurology looked at data from 14 clinical experiments involving over 50,000 subjects and pooled the results. This meta-analysis indicated that subjects who took B-vitamins had a seven percent reduced risk of developing a stroke compared with subjects who were taking a placebo. The study author Dr. Xu Yuming, a neurologist at Zhengzhou University in China was trying to assess the association between stroke, high levels of a chemical called homocysteine and B-vitamin supplementation.
Certainly, previous research has conclusively proven that high levels of homocysteine can damage the arteries of the neck and brain, leading to an increased risk of stroke. Homocysteine is normally produced in the body during the production of an amino acid called methionine. Under normal circumstances, homocysteine is metabolized into another compound by various enzymes, some of which are dependent upon B-vitamins.
High levels of homocysteine have been closely linked to the development of stroke and peripheral artery disease. The use of B-vitamins has been used to lower high levels of homocysteine and in so doing, lower the risk of stroke.
In this study, all of the studies were pooled together so it’s quite difficult to ascertain the full effects that B-vitamins had in lowering stroke risk. The study also pooled the analysis of studies that used vitamin 12 as the predominant nutrient measured; however, it has been shown that folic acid and vitamin B6 are also very important nutrients in lowering high levels of homocysteine. Although this study did show a significant reduction in stroke risk following the use of B-vitamins, the dosage used and the combinations of nutrients utilized is of paramount importance in determining clinical effectiveness.
The great thing about this study is that it adds to the data which shows a direct correlation between the levels of homocysteine and the risk of stroke. It also indicates that the use of some inexpensive and safe B-vitamin supplements can significantly reduce the risk of developing a stroke.
In my opinion, this is preventative medicine at its best!
Source(s) for Today’s Article:
Gholipour, B.,“Vitamin B Supplements May Reduce Stroke Risk,”Yahoo! website, Sept 24, 2013; http://ca.news.yahoo.com/vitamin-b-supplements-may-reduce-stroke-risk-125256171.html
Yuming, X., et al.,”Vitamin B supplementation, homocysteine levels, and the risk of cerebrovascular disease A meta-analysis,” Neurology.