New Evidence Links Low Levels of Vitamin D to Stroke Deaths

New evidence suggests there is yet another benefit of Vitamin D supplementation. The study shows that low levels of Vitamin D increase a person’s chances of dying following a stroke, making Vitamin D a promising means of prevention.

Other risk factors aside, investigators at University of Heidelberg, in Germany found that people with low levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D were more likely to die after suffering from stroke. The researchers studied 3316 patients referred for coronary angiography, measuring serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D and 1, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D in 3299 and 3315 subjects, respectively. After 7.75 years 769 patients died. According to the authors, "Vitamin D supplementation in stroke patients has already been shown to reduce osteopenia, fractures, and falls while improving muscle strength. Apart from these beneficial effects, our results suggest that vitamin D might also directly protect against stroke."

Vitamin D supplementation has become the “darling” of health prevention and maintenance. More than 50% of US and European populations are believed to have inadequate stores of Vitamin D, placing them at risk for death from heart disease and increasing the risk of all cause mortality, according to research results published June 23 in Archives of Internal Medicine. Elders are especially vulnerable to vitamin D deficiency.

Low levels of Vitamin D have also been implicated as contributing factors for lowered immunity, high blood pressure, cancer and diabetes, and are known to contribute to loss of bone density, or osteoporosis.

The authors surmise that Vitamin D provides antithrombotic or anti-blood clotting properties, in addition to protecting from brain injury, or neuroprotective capabilities. The authors conclusion: "We are of the opinion that it is a promising and safe preventive/therapeutic approach to supplement vitamin D in patients after stroke and at high risk for stroke to maintain 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations of at least 75nmol/L (30 ng/mL), which have been shown to be most effective in producing favorable health outcomes."

Sources of Vitamin D

It’s difficult to get Vitamin D from food sources, making Vitamin D supplementation and adequate sunshine your best defense for disease prevention. Fortified foods, such as cereal, milk, Swiss cheese, and some brands of orange juice provide extra Vitamin D in your diet. Fish oils, such as cod liver oil, and fresh fish (tuna, mackerel and salmon) are also good sources of Vitamin D. Unfortunately, fresh fish is often contaminated, making it important to know from where your fresh catch of the day arrived. Fish oil supplements should also be scrutinized for purity. Many vitamins now contain vitamin D3, effectively raising 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels.
Vitamin D is has emerged as one of our most powerful tools for preventing heart disease, reducing fracture risk, and possibility cancer, diabetes and stroke.

For more information, visit the Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin D, from the National Institute of Health.

Abstract: Low vitamin d levels predict stroke in patients referred to coronary angiography
Related: Are Your Babies at Risk for Vitamin D Deficiency?