September 20, 2013
Vitamin B Effects On Stroke Risk May Be Bittersweet
[ Watch the Video: Stroke Risk May Be Reduced With Vitamin B Regimen ]
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe OnlineThere’s currently a debate about the effectiveness of vitamin B in reducing strokes and heart attacks, with some saying diets rich in B vitamins may actually increase one’s risk of stroke.
New research, however, suggests vitamin B reduces the risk of stroke by seven percent, though it does not reduce the severity of a stroke or the risk of death from a stroke. A group of researchers from Zhengzhou University in China completed this recent study and say they saw a reduction in strokes when people took plenty of B vitamins, but they did not note any significant reduction in risk of heart attack. This research has been published in the journal Neurology.
Lead author Xu Yuming and team analyzed data collected from nearly 55,000 participants who were either taking vitamin B supplements, a placebo, or a very low dose of vitamin B. During the sixth month study period, 2,471 of these patients had a stroke. Each of the stroke victims saw some benefit from taking the B vitamins, though the researchers did note their strokes weren’t any less severe than the others. Vitamin B has been found to lower homocysteine levels, a molecule in the blood which aids in blood clotting. With lower levels of this molecule, the risk of a clot running through the blood stream and lodging in the brain is thereby reduced.
“Our analysis demonstrated that homocysteine lowering therapy with B vitamin supplementation significantly reduced stroke events,” said Yuming in a statement, as cited by The Telegraph's Richard Gray.
There are other ways to get B vitamins into the body other than supplements, of course. Vitamin B, a grouping of 8 vitamins, can be found in unprocessed foods and meat. Foods like beef, cheese, crustaceans, eggs, fish and even fortified cereals and soy are all high in B vitamins.
According to the research, different types of B vitamins can affect the body in different ways.
Yuming and his team found folic acid, or B9, may reduce the positive effects of taking a vitamin B supplement. Vitamin B12, for instance, did not reduce the risk of stroke in any of the participants. According to Yuming, these changes are largely dependent on the individual taking the supplements.
“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,” said Yuming.
"Before you begin taking any supplements, you should always talk to your doctor," added Yuming.
Previous research has shown B vitamins can be helpful in repairing the brain following a stroke as opposed to preventing it altogether.
Researchers at Henry Ford Hospital claimed in 2010 that vitamin B3, or niacin, can help repair neurological function following a stroke.
The team claim niacin worked in this way because it increased the amount of “good” cholesterol in the brain, thereby increasing blood vessel size and deliver more blood to the brain.