Vitamin D May Prevent Strokes

Strokes more common in individuals who do not consume vitamin D

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Milk and Vitamin D-rich foods such as breakfast cereals and fatty fish may do more than give you strong bones and a strengthened immune system. Consuming more vitamin D is associated with a decreased risk of stroke.

The lengthy study found that the risk of stroke was higher in Japanese-American men who consumed little vitamin D as compared to those who consumed larger quantities of foods rich in vitamin D.

"Discuss your  vitamin supplements with your doctor."

Gotaro Kojima, MD, lead author of the study and geriatric medicine fellow at the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii, said that the study confirmed that consuming foods rich in vitamin D might offer a protective benefit from stroke.

Sunlight also provides a significant amount of vitamin D, but bodies have more difficulty synthesizing the vitamin with age. Doctors often suggest eating more vitamin D-rich foods as individuals age.

During the 34-year study, researchers followed 7,385 Japanese-American men living in Oahu, Hawaii at the Kuakini Medical Center. They were participating in the  Kuakini Honolulu Heart Program, a study of stroke and coronary heart disease in Japanese-American men that started in 1965.

The men, who were between the ages of 45 and 68 years old when the study began, received an initial exam and were interviewed regarding food consumption during the prior 24 hours. The men were then separated into groups based on their vitamin D consumption. During the study, 960 strokes were reported.

After analyzing records through 1999 and adjusting for factors including hypertension, cholesterol, smoking and exercise level, investigators found that men who consumed the least amount of vitamin D had a 22 percent higher risk of any type of stroke and a 27 percent increased risk of ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke.

Dr. Kojima said he was uncertain as to whether the findings would also apply to women or other ethnic groups since the study group included only Japanese men.

The study, funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Institute on Aging. was recently published in Stroke, an American Heart Association journal.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 22, 2012
Last Updated:
August 1, 2012