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A Vitamin B Supplement A Day May Keep Stroke Away

Update Date: Sep 18, 2013 07:06 PM EDT

Taking vitamin B supplements may help prevent stroke, according to a new study.

"Previous studies have conflicting findings regarding the use of vitamin B supplements and stroke or heart attack," study author Xu Yuming, with Zhengzhou University in Zhengzhou, China, said in a news release. "Some studies have even suggested that the supplements may increase the risk of these events."

In the study, researchers analyzed 14 randomized clinical trials with a total of 54,913 participants. All of the studies included in the review compared vitamin B supplements with a placebo or a very low-dose B vitamin.

Participants in the study were then followed for a minimum of six months. Researchers said there were 2,471 strokes overall, and all of which showed some benefit of taking vitamin B.

The findings revealed that vitamin B lowered the risk of stroke in the studies overall by 7 percent.  However, taking the supplements did not appear to affect the severity of strokes or risk of death from stroke.

However, folic acid, a supplement that is often found in fortified cereals appeared to reduce the effect of vitamin B.

"Based on our results, the ability of vitamin B to reduce stroke risk may be influenced by a number of other factors such as the body's absorption rate, the amount of folic acid or vitamin B12 concentration in the blood, and whether a person has kidney disease or high blood pressure," said Yuming. "Before you begin taking any supplements, you should always talk to your doctor."

The findings are published in the journal Neurology

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