People with heart disease who take high doses of B vitamins are somewhat less likely to suffer from stroke, especially if they're under 70, suggests a new Canadian study.
In this study, researchers from the University of Toronto and McMaster University examined the results of a research trial that randomly assigned 5,522 adults with heart disease to either take a daily regimen of several vitamins or placebo pills for five years.
The vitamin regimen included a daily dose of 2.5 milligrams of folic acid (a type of B vitamin), 50 milligrams of vitamin B6 and 1 milligram of vitamin B12.
During the five year follow-up, the stroke risk was slightly lower in people with heart disease who took the B vitamins.
People under 70 years of age, those who had higher cholesterol and homocysteine levels at the start of the study, and those who weren't receiving antiplatelet drugs or cholesterol-lowering statins were more likely to benefit from B vitamin supplementation.
Researchers described the difference as "modest" saying the B vitamin supplementation would help 13 out of 1,000 people with heart disease avoid a stroke.
Other studies have come to opposite conclusions about whether B vitamins really protect against heart disease and stroke.
B vitamins play a critical role in metabolism and regulation of blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is linked to the development of heart disease. Leafy green vegetables, lean red meats and whole grain cereals are good food sources of folic acid, vitamin B12 and other B vitamins.
The best anti-stroke diet is high in fibre-rich vegetables and fruits, low in saturated and trans fat, and higher in monounsaturated fats from olive oil, unsalted nuts and avocado.
For personalized nutrition consulting to lower your heart disease and stroke risk, check out how you can work with Leslie Beck, RD.
These findings were presented at the American Stroke Association's International Conference in San Diego from February 18-19, 2009.
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