Thursday, January 17, 2008

High Plasma Vitamin C Levels Shown to Reduce Risk of Stroke by 42%

A visit with the family doctor probably means you'll end up with a prescription for some sort of medication. We're either treating an existing illness or trying to prevent the next.

Blood pressure medication, cholesterol lowering drugs and even blood thinner prescriptions are doled out in an effort to prevent stroke and cardiovascular disease. What if your doctor "prescribed" fruits and vegetables for stroke prevention?

A recent analysis shows that by eating vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables, you can cut your risk of stroke by 42%. That's pretty significant, especially when you compare drug trials for stroke prevention.

Plavix is recommended for many high risk patients, and it does reduce your risk of stroke - by 8.7 - 9.4% (1).

Don't stop taking your Plavix in favor of fruits and vegetables. Read the following and incorporate good eating into your daily medical regimen. It only makes sense that you'll cut your risk of stroke even further.

Lead author Phyo Kyaw Myint, MRCP, from the clinical gerontology unit at Addenbrooke's University Hospital in Cambridge, United Kingdom writes: "We explored the relation between baseline plasma vitamin C concentrations and future stroke risk in British participants in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC)–Norfolk," study, a population-based prospective study. "Measuring plasma vitamin C levels may identify those who will most benefit from established risk factor management such as blood pressure control."

The reason for this finding is possibly due to the antioxidant effect of Vitamin C, something not reproducible with Vitamin C supplements. It's not time to change current treatments, but the message to the public and to patients should be clear: eat your fruits and vegetables. You should consume 5-9 servings per day. That sentence almost wrote itself because it's been repeated so many times, but the message deserves notice.

No one in this study group was asked to alter their diet. This research took place between 1993 and 1997 and included 20,649 men and women aged 40 to 79 years. Plasma levels of Vitamin C were measured at the beginning of the study. The group was followed through March 2005.

Individuals who took part in the study with the highest Vitamin C levels showed a 42%reduction in stroke risk than those with lower plasma Vitamin C levels. By adding one fruit or vegetable a day you can reduce your chance of stroke by 17%.

Since Vitamin C has a short half life, it's important to eat fruits and vegetables daily - throughout the day. Cooking reduces the Vitamin C content of vegetables so stick with raw or lightly steamed vegetables.

I wonder if pharmaceutical companies could provide vouchers for fresh fruits and vegetables? I'm all for it!

Ref: Am J Clin Nutr. 2008;87:5-7, 64-69.