- The study indicates that higher doses of B vitamins may potentially lower stroke risk, especially in certain groups such as patients younger than 70, those with high cholesterol and homocysteine levels, and those not on antiplatelet drugs or statins at the beginning of the study.
- There is disagreement among experts about the effectiveness of general vitamin supplementation for stroke and cardiovascular event risk reduction, with some evidence suggesting its overall ineffectiveness.
- Another study found that recommended doses of B vitamins could reduce the levels of homocysteine, and lower the chances of a subsequent stroke in patients who had already experienced one.
- A balanced diet, including high intake of fruits and vegetables, restricting saturated and trans fats, leaning towards plant-based unsaturated fats, and ensuring enough calcium, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids, is still considered the best defense against strokes.
- Vitamins and minerals don’t provide immediate results, their benefits are seen over prolonged periods, over several years, and therefore simply adding supplements to your diet for a few weeks won’t suffice in reducing stroke risk.
In research conducted in Canada, experts found promising evidence supporting that elevated doses of B vitamins could potentially decrease the likelihood of a stroke. The study was conducted on individuals under 70 years old suffering from heart conditions. Discrepancies, however, exist across studies of similar topics, prompting thorough assessments of the demonstrated effects prior to definitive conclusions.
Diverse expert opinions
Critics argue that general vitamin supplementation offers no substantiated advantages in terms of risk reduction for cardiovascular events or stroke. On the contrary, there is considerable evidence suggesting its overall ineffectiveness.
Investigating the role of B Vitamins
Canadian scientists focussed on investigating if higher doses of B vitamins could decrease stroke risk by lowering homocysteine levels, an amino acid. Current debates revolve around the implications of elevated homocysteine counts in the bloodstream, which some research connects with an increased risk of suffering a stroke.
Whilst the American Heart Association declaims elevated homocysteine levels as risk factors for stroke or heart disease, they also advise against the widespread usage of B vitamins to reduce any such risks.
Details of the Canadian Study
The study engaged researchers from the University of Toronto and McMaster University who analyzed the results of a trial in which 5,522 adults with heart ailments received a daily regimen of vitamins or placebos for five years.
The vitamin regimen included a daily dosage of 2.5 milligrams of folic acid, 50 milligrams of vitamin B6, and 1 milligram of vitamin B12. This is higher than what one would typically consume in a normal diet or through multivitamin supplements.
Findings of the Study
The study demonstrated that around 5% of the trial participants experienced a stroke throughout the course of five years. However, those who adhered to the proposed vitamin regimen appeared to have lower risks, although the difference was classified as “modest.”
It suggested that the vitamin therapy could prevent 13 out of 1,000 subjects from a stroke. Certain groups found more benefit from the vitamin therapy, such as patients younger than 70, those with higher cholesterol and homocysteine levels, those who didn’t already consume foods fortified with folic acid, and those who weren’t on antiplatelet drugs or statins at the beginning of the study.
There was, however, no significant impact of the treatment noticed on the severity of strokes that some participants suffered.
The impact of B vitamins in stroke patients
Another study that ran concurrently found that the administration of recommended doses of B vitamins could reduce the levels of homocysteine, and lower the chances of a subsequent stroke in patients who had already experienced one.
A team at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that presence of B vitamins could potentially lower the rate of stroke recurrence by the end of the two-year study.
Health experts speak out on diet’s role in stroke prevention
However, experts argue that a well-balanced diet still remains the best defense against strokes. Key components of a successful anti-stroke diet were highlighted as a high intake of vegetables and fruits, restricting consumption of saturated and trans fats, leaning towards plant-based unsaturated fats, and ensuring enough quantity of calcium, potassium and omega-3 fatty acids. Also, maintaining an appropriate caloric intake is crucial for a healthy weight.
The Long-Term Benefits of Vitamins and Minerals
Contrary to prescription drugs, vitamins and minerals don’t provide quick fixes. Instead, their benefits are seen over prolonged periods, over several years. Hence, merely adding supplements to your diet for a few weeks will not suffice in reducing the risk of a stroke.
For further details about homocysteine, click here.