A stroke occurs when blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, starving it of oxygen. There are 2 types of stoke:
- Ischaemic; (accounting for over 80% of cases) where a blood clot stops the blood supply to the brain;
- Haemorrhagic; a weakened blood vessel supplying the brain with blood/oxygen bursts resulting in brain damage.
Scientists of Zhengzhou University in Zhengzhou, China analysed 14 trials involving 15,913 participants. The trails compared the effect of vitamin B supplements compared with a placebo (or low dosage of vitamin B) on reducing strokes. The volunteers were assessed for 6 months; during this period 2,471 strokes occurred. The data gathered showed those taking vitamin B supplements were 7% less likely to suffer a stoke compared to those taking a placebo or low dose.
Results showed that Vitamin B did reduce the risk of stroke but not the severity or risk of death. Vitamin B9 reduced the effect of vitamin B on the risk of stroke and vitamin B12 had no effect on the risk of stroke. Therefore it can be concluded that there is a complex relation of factors which seem to influence the effect vitamin B has on stroke, for example folic acid, a supplemental form of folate (B9) common in fortified cereals, appeared to reduce the beneficial effect of vitamin B, as did the existence of high blood pressure or more serious existing conditions such as chronic kidney disease. This study was published in ‘Neurology’.
Moreover American researches believe vitamin B has the potential to “rewire” the brain by improving blood vessels in stroke patients. Doctors at the Henry Ford Hospital, in Detroit, identified that vitamin B3 (niacin) restored the brain’s neurological function after a stroke. The study was carried out on rats, but will hopefully lead to a similar trial in humans, if results are positive it could result in new low cost treatment for stroke patients. “If this proves to work well in our human trials, we’ll then have the benefit of a low-cost, easily-tolerable treatment for one of the most neurologically devastating conditions,” said the study leader Dr Michael Chopp, scientific director at the Henry Ford Neuroscience Institute.
The study found that rats with ischemic stroke (the most common form of stroke) who were given niacin displayed growth of new blood vessels on their brain. Furthermore the rats developed nerve cells, which greatly improved their neurological functions.
Past studies into B vitamins have indicated that vitamin B can also help to prevent heart attacks as well as strokes.
I think the message is to ensure that you have a healthy intake of vitamin B in your diet; the B9 (Folic Acid) recommended daily intake is only 0.02mg and for B12 it is only 0.001mg.