Small Study Suggests Vitamin C Reduces Stroke Risk


2014-02-16 12:07

Vitamin C is an essential vitamin needed for normal growth and development. But there also may be another benefit to eating vitamin c-rich fruits and vegetables. Researchers have found that it may help protect against one common type of stroke.

Researchers with Pontchaillou University Hospital in France included a total of 130 patients in their study – 65 who had experienced an intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke (one of the most common types of hemorrhagic strokes) and 65 healthy individuals. Each was tested to evaluate the level of vitamin C in their blood.

Overall, those who had had a stroke were more likely to have a vitamin C deficiency.

"Vitamin C decreases blood pressure, which may partly explain the association between fruit and vegetable intake and mortality from stroke," said Dr. Stephane Vanier MD. "Moreover, ascorbic acid contributes to collagen biosynthesis and regulation, including that of basal membrane vessel type IV collagen. Depletion is responsible for unstable and dysfunctional collagen with loss of organ support properties, which may lead to hemorrhages."

An intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke is one where a blood vessel ruptures inside the brain. Although less common than an ischemic stroke, it is often more deadly.

Vitamin C is needed for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of the body. It helps with wound healing and acts as an antioxidant to block some of the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals may play a role in heart disease.

At this point, experts don't recommend vitamin C supplementation if there is no deficiency, said Dr. Vannier. However, if you are not consuming enough vitamin-C rich fruits and vegetables, you may want to focus on eating more healthfully.

All fruits and vegetables contain some amount of vitamin C. Those with the highest content include:
• Cantaloupe
• Citrus fruits and juices, such as orange and grapefruit
• Kiwi fruit
• Mango
• Papaya
• Pineapple
• Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries
• Watermelon
• Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower
• Green and red peppers
• Spinach, cabbage, turnip greens, and other leafy greens
• Sweet and white potatoes
• Tomatoes and tomato juice
• Winter squash

References:
American Academy of Neurology 66th Annual Meeting to be held in Philadelphia, April 26 to May 3, 2014. (Abstract 3101)
MedLine Plus, National Institutes of Health