International Stroke Conference

International Stroke Conference

Issue: April 2012
February 01, 2012
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Vitamin D may protect against stroke, cognitive impairment

Issue: April 2012
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International Stroke Conference 2012

NEW ORLEANS — Those who consume sufficient amounts of vitamin D may be protected from incident strokes and cognitive impairment.

The Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) Study was composed of 30,239 black and white participants aged 45 years and older. Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham surveyed participants every 6 months for strokes and assessed cognitive function annually for 5 years. Vitamin D consumption was measured using a food-frequency questionnaire (Block 98), and intake was categorized into tertiles: low (0 IU/day to 53.1 IU/day) or high (382 IU/day to 1,774 IU/day).

Suzanne E. Judd, PhD
Suzanne E. Judd

Overall, the researchers analyzed data from 26,039 participants who were followed for a mean of 5 years. Higher vitamin D intake was more common in white participants as compared with black participants, but did not differ by age or sex.

“Vitamin D from both supplements and food was associated with a lower risk for stroke and cognitive decline,” Suzanne E. Judd, PhD, told Cardiology Today. Participants with higher levels of vitamin D had an associated 11% reduction in stroke and 24% reduction in cognitive impairment vs. those with lower levels, after the researchers adjusted for age, race, income, education, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, history of CVD and weight.

According to Judd, one limitation of this analysis is that the researchers had no good measure of vitamin D from sun exposure. She said blood levels of vitamin D may be a better marker to account for diet and sun exposure; her research group is looking to study this in the near future.

“Vitamin D is increasingly being studied as a cardioprotective agent. It is time to start examining the role of vitamin D in preserving brain function as well,” Judd said.

Other research is focusing on the effects of vitamin D supplementation on stroke and cognitive function, such as the VITAL study being conducted by investigators at Harvard. “It would be great to have smaller supplementation trials to help determine the optimum dose that would improve outcomes and minimize safety risks,” she said.

The researchers said, “Clinical trials could evaluate the potential role of vitamin D as a neuroprotectant.” – by Katie Kalvaitis

For more information:

Disclosure: Dr. Judd reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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