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Taking vitamin D supplements may help prevent stroke

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By David Liu, PHD

Monday March 26, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- Taking vitamin D supplements or get lots of exposure to the sun may reduce the risk of ischemic stroke in women, according to a new meta-analysis published in the journal Stroke.

The study led by Qi Sun of Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA and colleagues found women whose vitamin D levels were in the highest tertile were 49 to 59 percent less likely to suffer ischemic stroke, compared with those whose vitamin D levels were in the lowest tertile.

For the study, the researchers analysed a few sets of data from the Nurses' Health Study and other studies reported in MEDLINE and EMBASE published through March 2011.  All the studies evaluated 25(OH)D levels in relation to stroke.

Many studies showed that 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) deficiency may increase cardiovascular disease risk, but its relation to stroke risk has not been clear.

Results based on data from 464 women who experienced ischemic stroke and an equal number of control subjects showed that those who had highest levels of serum vitamin D were 49 percent less likely to suffer ischemic stroke.

Results from an analysis of data from 6 other prospective studies together with data from the Nurses' Health Study showed that those who had highest vitamin D levels were 52 percent less likely to have stroke, compared with women in the lowest tertile.

Two studies that examined ischemic stroke showed that those in the highest tertile were 59 percent less likely to have iscehmic stroke.

The researchers concluded "These data provide evidence that low vitamin D levels are modestly associated with risk of stroke. Maintaining adequate vitamin D status may lower the risk of stroke in women."

Key Words: meta-analysis, ischemic stroke, vitamin D, vitamin d deficiency

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