Taking Vitamin B supplements may just save your life. In a study led by Yan Ji MD of the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University, researchers have found that taking Vitamin B supplements lowered homocysteine levels, which reduced the risk of a stroke.
The study analysed 54,913 participants in 14 randomised clinical trials. Participants were randomly split into groups and given either a placebo, vitamin B, or a very low dose of the vitamin. The participants were then followed for at least six months. There were 2,471 reported cases of a stroke among the participants, but overall, the results showed that vitamin B lowered the risk of a stroke by seven percent. In cases where a stroke did occur, the vitamin did not appear to reduce the severity of the attack or the risk of mortality.
However, the study, which was published in Neurology, the official journal of the American Academy of Neurology, found that taking folic acid, or Vitmain B9, could negate the beneficial effects of taking supplements for the other B vitamins. In addition, Vitamin B12, when taken in high doses, did not appear to have an effect on the risk of stroke. Pregnant women have been encouraged to increase their intake of folic acid to protect against neurological disease in their fetuses, while vitamin B12 helps in the production of red blood cells; it also plays a role in keeping the nervous system healthy.
Vitamin B is commonly found in fortified breakfast cereals, eggs, vegetables such as peas and broccoli, and rice. However, processed food can contain low levels of the vitamin, prompting medical professionals to advise patients to add supplements to their daily routine.
According to Medical News Today, several factors influence the efficacy of Vitamin B in reducing the risk of a stroke. These include “the background of folate fortification of cereal products, follow-up time, status of absorption and response to B vitamin supplementation, the existence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) or high blood pressure (HBP), and baseline participant medication use can influence the effects of B vitamins supplementation.”
Study author, Dr. Xu Yuming, warned the Telegraph that previous studies have had mixed findings about the efficacy of Vitamin B for reducing the risk of strokes. Some have even found that Vitamin B has the opposite effect, increasing the participants’ risk of an attack. In all cases, Dr. Xu warns that patients should always consult their doctor before taking any supplements.
Medical News today reports that Vitamin B supplements have been said to be beneficial for a range of health issues, including stress, anxiety, depression, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease.
While further research is required, Dr. Xu’s study is a beacon of hope to the hundreds of thousands of patients who are at risk of a stroke. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), strokes kill nearly 130,000 Americans every year. In other words, strokes are responsible for 1 in 19 deaths in America every year. Strokes cost Americans almost $40 billion in medical fees, medications, and missed days of work every year. If Dr. Xu is right, taking a simple Vitamin B supplement can prevent more than 9,000 deaths and save almost $3 billion dollars every year.