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B Vitamins Might Lower Stroke Risk
Date:2/19/2009

But jury is still out on their value, experts note

THURSDAY, Feb. 19 (HealthDay News) -- 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, a new Canadian study suggests.

But other studies have come to opposite conclusions about whether vitamins really protect against cerebrovascular disease, noted Dr. Larry B. Goldstein, director of the Duke Stroke Center at Duke University, in Durham, N.C.

"We will need to carefully review this study in light of these other reports," said Goldstein. "There remains no evidence that general vitamin supplementation lowers risk of stroke or other cardiovascular events, and considerable evidence that it is ineffectual."

The Canadian researchers sought to determine whether high doses of three B vitamins could dampen the risk of stroke by lowering levels of an amino acid known as homocysteine.

Some research has linked high levels of the amino acid in the blood to a higher risk of stroke, although there's a debate over what this means.

The American Heart Association has made a point of not declaring high homocysteine levels to be a risk factor for heart disease or stroke. In fact, the association doesn't recommend the widespread use of B vitamin supplements to counteract any risk.

In the new 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. These levels are higher than people would normally get from their diets or from multivitamins, said Lona Sandon, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.


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