By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
Uncertain as to whether supplementing with a multi-vitamin affects stroke risk, Japanese researchers set out to find an answer. To do so, they tapped into a large national lifestyle database, involving more than 70,000 men and women who were free of any cardiovascular disease when the database started in 1988. After analyzing lifestyle questionnaires through the end of 2009, they discovered that regular (but not sporadic) use of a multivitamin supplement was associated with a significantly reduced risk of death from strokes among individuals with a low intake of fruits and vegetables.
The multi had no apparent appreciable benefit for individuals eating the recommended daily requirement of fruit and vegetables. Nearly half the population in the study came up short in that respect.
The results applied to all strokes, but primarily to the most common type – ischemic − in which the carotid arteries leading to the brain or arteries inside the brain become blocked by plaque.
Their findings appeared in a 2015 report in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.
My Viewpoint: This is a significant finding because it shows the power of a daily multi-vitamin and mineral supplement to provide “nutritional insurance” against strokes among people who fail to eat a healthy diet with the recommended 5 to 9 daily serving of fruits and vegetables. Produce is packed with many important vitamins, minerals, and natural plant compounds and antioxidants that protect overall and cardiovascular health, and that includes protection against stroke.
What This Means to You: The message is clear. If you don’t eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables as you should, then a multi can help fill the deficit.
Recommendation: A high-quality multi is foundational for any nutritional program. I always recommended that my patients take a multi, along with targeted supplements for specific conditions. And I always strongly urged them to eat plenty of fresh, and ideally organic, fruit and vegetables, and make doing so a priority. The nutrients in produce will help you live longer. I recommend you do both – take a multi and eat more produce.
- Dong JY, et al. Multivitamin Use and Risk of Stroke Mortality: The Japan Collaborative Cohort Study. Stroke. 2015;45:1167-1172.
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