Vitamin C Linked With Reduced Stroke Risk

Feb 15, 2014 | Updated Feb 19, 2014
Alexey Kopytko via Getty Images

Making sure you get enough vitamin C could help protect you from stroke, a small new study suggests.

Research presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology shows that risk of hemorrhagic stroke -- which is more deadly, but rarer, than ischemic stroke -- is lower among people who have normal vitamin C levels, compared with people with depleted vitamin C levels.

“Our results show that vitamin C deficiency should be considered a risk factor for this severe type of stroke, as were high blood pressure, drinking alcohol and being overweight in our study,” study researcher Dr. Stéphane Vannier, M.D., of Pontchaillou University Hospital in France, said in a statement. “More research is needed to explore specifically how vitamin C may help to reduce stroke risk. For example, the vitamin may regulate blood pressure.”

For the study, researchers tested vitamin C blood levels of 65 people who had experienced an intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke, as well as the vitamin C blood levels of healthy people who had not suffered a stroke. Among all the people, 45 percent had normal vitamin C levels and 45 percent had depleted vitamin C levels. Fourteen percent of people had vitamin C levels so low they were considered deficient. However, researchers found that the ones who had normal vitamin C levels were the ones who hadn't had a stroke, while the ones with depleted vitamin C levels were the ones who had had a stroke.

Because the findings have yet to be published in a peer reviewed journal, they should be considered preliminary. However, this isn't the first time vitamin C has been linked with a decreased risk of stroke. In 2008, a study by University of Cambridge researchers showed that people with the highest blood levels of vitamin C had a risk of stroke 42 percent lower than people with the lowest blood levels of the vitamin. And a 1995 study in the British Medical Journal had similar findings, where elderly people with the lowest vitamin C had the highest risk of dying from stroke.

Vitamin C deficiency can also lead to anemia, a lowered ability of the body to fight infection and heal wounds, gingivitis, nosebleeds, and joint pain, according to the National Institutes of Health. Adult men are recommended to get 90 milligrams of vitamin C a day, while adult women are recommended to get 75 milligrams of vitamin C a day. Vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables, including oranges, broccoli and peppers. For more vitamin C-rich foods, click through the slideshow:

Foods With More Vitamin C Than An Orange

Clarification: The headline has been changed to clarify the nature of the link between vitamin C and stroke risk.