How Folic Acid Reduces the Risk of Stroke

When taking folic acid supplements, blood homocysteine levels drop substantially. This amino acid is one of the main causes of stroke and several other diseases, such as dementia. Deep vein thrombosis can also be caused by this amino acid, so lowering the homocysteine levels is very important.

Studies Reveal the Benefits Brought by Folic Acid

Basically, folic acid is able to reduce the risk of stroke by 18 percent. If vitamin B9 tablets are taken for more than three years, the risk reduces by 29 percent. These results were obtained in trials conducted at Children’s Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. According to these trials, a reduction by more than 20 percent of homocysteine levels in blood leads to a lower risk of stroke by 23 percent.

Coronary artery damage occurs when homocysteine levels are elevated. More than that, platelets, which are also known as blood clotting cells, are able to form clots easier when higher levels of homocysteine are found in the blood.

Folic Acid and Cholesterol

Cholesterol levels in liver and blood decrease dramatically when taking folic acid. Stroke can also be caused by high blood cholesterol levels, so folic acid supplementation is able to reduce the risk in more than one way. What folic acid actually does is to reduce the amount of secreted bile acid and to force cholesterol from blood and the liver to be incorporated into bile acid.

Vitamin B9 and High Blood Pressure

Hypertension is also one of the main causes of stroke, and folic acid may help solve this problem, too. A daily dose of 5 mg is sufficient for reducing the pulse pressure. In children, folic acid can help in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases by reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Recommended Dosage

It seems that any amount of folic acid is able to reduce the risk of stroke. The recommended minimum daily intake, according to health officials, is of 0.4 mg, so the trials involved doses several times higher than the usual. However, considering that folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin, there is no risk of toxicity.  

Keep in mind, though, that vitamin B12 deficiency becomes harder to detect when high folic acid doses are taken. This is particularly observed in older people. Because of this fact, it is best to talk to a health care provider before starting the supplementation with folic acid. Even though high doses of folic acid are not dangerous, self-medication is not recommended.

Sources of Vitamin B9

Supplementation can be done either with tablets or with foods that are rich in this vitamin. If you decide to focus on the diet, then you need to know that folic acid is found in foods such as:

  • Fruits
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Mushrooms
  • Nuts
  • Pulses
  • Root vegetables

In addition, flour, bread or cereals that are fortified with folic acid also represent reliable sources. The residents of countries in which folic acid fortification regulations are enforced, have a much lower risk of stroke.

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