French researchers discovered that the risk of a stroke may be reduced by vitamin C. According to the researchers, vitamin C mainly helps to reduce the risk of bleeding of the brain. This is known as a hemorrhagic stroke. Although this type of stroke makes up for only a small percentage of all strokes, it is considered to be more dangerous than ischemic strokes, which causes blood vessels in the brain to be blocked.
For this small study, performed by the Pontchaillou University Hospital in Rennes, researchers looked at 130 people, of which 65 have suffered from hemorrhagic strokes. The results show that the 65 patients, who had a stroke, had lower levels of vitamin C in their bodies than healthy people who participated in the study. Although lower vitamin C levels were linked to longer hospitalizations after a hemorrhagic stroke, the researchers said it is not linked to a higher risk of death.
Dr. Stephane Vannier, who led the study in Rennes, says, “Vitamin C is known for lowering blood pressure and maintaining good health of the blood vessels; however, we do not recommend taking supplements. It is better to consume vitamin C by eating foods.”
Dr. Ken Uchino specializes in strokes at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and explains, “Although the study shows that the risk of a stroke may be reduced by vitamin C, other studies must be performed to confirm the link between vitamin C and bleeding of the brain. We know that is has a relation to the integrity of tissue in the body, so it could have something to do with the risk of a stroke indeed.” He continues, “Then again, a vitamin C deficiency means that the patient lives an unhealthy lifestyle, which always increases the risk of a stroke.”
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning that the body is unable to store it. The recommended daily intake of vitamin C for adults is 75 to 90 mg which, according to Vannier, should be consumed by eating the right foods. Vitamin C can be found in broccoli, spinach, peppers, potatoes and citrus fruits such as oranges.
Vannier says that his team will perform more research to explore how vitamin C may reduce the risk of a stroke. One of the questions of the research will be if vitamin C is able to regulate the blood pressure, which is considered to be another risk factor. Other factors that may increase the risk of a stroke are alcohol abuse and being overweight. According to doctors, these factors are specifically dangerous to the risk of hemorrhagic strokes.
Although Vannier does not recommend vitamin C supplements, Dr. Louis Morledge from the Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City thinks otherwise. He says, “If a patient suffers from a vitamin C deficiency, a medical doctor may advise the patient to take vitamin C supplements, especially knowing that the risk of a stroke may be reduced. One thing that the patient should never forget is that a diet full of fruits and vegetables is still most important. Maintain a healthy lifestyle.”
By Diana Herst