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Nutr Res Rev. 2009 Jun;22(1):49-67. doi: 10.1017/S0954422409990023.

Stroke: roles of B vitamins, homocysteine and antioxidants.

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Department of Plant Foods Science and Technology, Instituto del Frío, CSIC, Madrid, Spain.


In the present review concerning stroke, we evaluate the roles of B vitamins, homocysteine and antioxidant vitamins. Stroke is a leading cause of death in developed countries. However, current therapeutic strategies for stroke have been largely unsuccessful. Several studies have reported important benefits on reducing the risk of stroke and improving the post-stroke-associated functional declines in patients who ate foods rich in micronutrients, including B vitamins and antioxidant vitamins E and C. Folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 are all cofactors in homocysteine metabolism. Growing interest has been paid to hyperhomocysteinaemia as a risk factor for CVD. Hyperhomocysteinaemia has been linked to inadequate intake of vitamins, particularly to B-group vitamins and therefore may be amenable to nutritional intervention. Hence, poor dietary intake of folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 are associated with increased risk of stroke. Elevated consumption of fruits and vegetables appears to protect against stroke. Antioxidant nutrients have important roles in cell function and have been implicated in processes associated with ageing, including vascular, inflammatory and neurological damage. Plasma vitamin E and C concentrations may serve as a biological marker of lifestyle or other factors associated with reduced stroke risk and may be useful in identifying those at high risk of stroke. After reviewing the observational and intervention studies, there is an incomplete understanding of mechanisms and some conflicting findings; therefore the available evidence is insufficient to recommend the routine use of B vitamins, vitamin E and vitamin C for the prevention of stroke. A better understanding of mechanisms, along with well-designed controlled clinical trials will allow further progress in this area.

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