Vitamins rarely get the attention they deserve. Now is the time to fix that. Get the most out of your workout with vitamin B. Here’s how!
Remaining healthy and taking control of our nutrition to prevent certain medical conditions has been a hot topic for a long time. Good nutrition is tied to good health. It is also linked to the prevention and treatment of many conditions. Getting the recommended amounts of vitamins each day is an important part of the nutrition equation. B vitamins, in particular, are vital for preventive care.
Food has the power to work in two ways: It can elevate you and make you strong, or it can debilitate you and leave you weak.
One of the top concerns for many is to prevent a stroke. This is a subject very close to my heart as my father has recently suffered a serious stroke. And, I know I’m not alone in this. Strokes are becoming more common. The chance of prevention or at least, management of the condition with good nutrition is something of great interest to me and to many.
Strokes affect not just the patient. They affect the entire family and circle of friends. When I discovered new research that has linked Vitamin B with a lowered stroke risk, I was excited and eager to share it with everyone.
Background Facts On A Stoke
Strokes occur when the supply of blood to the brain is either interrupted or reduced. When this happens, the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen or nutrients. This causes brain cells to die.
Strokes occur due to problems with the blood supply to the brain. Either the blood supply which carries oxygen to the brain is blocked or a blood vessel within the brain bursts.
Strokes are also more likely to affect people if they are overweight, aged 55 or older, have a personal or family history of stroke, don’t exercise much, drink heavily or use illicit drugs.
The good news is that some risk factors for a stroke can be controlled or eliminated. Others, sadly can’t.
There are two main types of stroke: Ischemic and hemorrhagic.
These Are The Causes of Ischemic Stroke
Ischemic strokes are caused by blood clots that block blood flow to the brain. Blockages can form when the arteries supplying blood to the brain become narrowed by a build-up of plaque. Plaque is a mix of fat, cholesterol and other substances that build up in the inner lining of the artery wall. This condition is often known as atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries.
These Are The Causes of Hemorrhagic Stroke
Bleeding in or around the brain causes hemorrhagic strokes. Bleeding occurs when a weakened blood vessel in the brain ruptures and leaks into the surrounding brain tissue. The leaked blood can put too much pressure on the blood cells in the brain, causing damage. Chronic high blood pressure is the most common reason for hemorrhagic stroke.
Two types of weakened blood vessels can cause hemorrhagic strokes. These types are aneurysm and arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). An aneurysm is an abnormally shaped weak point in a blood vessel. AVMs are clusters of abnormally connected blood vessels.
These Stroke Factors Can’t Be Changed
Some risk factors for a stroke can be treated or controlled. Other risk factors can’t. Your family history is important.
Strokes often run in families. Your stroke risk may be higher if a parent or sibling has had a stroke.
Age, gender, and race also play a role. Stroke is most common in adults over the age of 65. Women have more strokes than men. Strokes kill more women than men each year. People of African, Hispanic, Indian and Alaska Native descent also have a higher risk of stroke than non-Hispanic whites or Asians. Of course, your history also can’t be changed. So if you’ve had a stroke in the past it will stay a part of you.
These Are Some Stroke Risk Factors That Can Be Prevented
There are some conditions that are linked to strokes. Prevention is key. If you suffer from any of the following conditions, you could be a risk. Consult your doctor.
High blood pressure is the main risk factor for stroke. It can damage and weaken arteries in the body so that they burst or clog more easily. Cholesterol is a fatty substance that contributes to plaques in the arteries. This can block blood flow to the brain. It’s also been said that people with diabetes are four times as likely to have a stroke as those without it.
Heart disease, or coronary artery disease, is the build-up of plaque in the arteries. This can increase your risk of stroke. The same can be said for other heart conditions, including heart valve defects and irregular heartbeat.
Some lifestyle habits and conditions can also increase your risk of stroke. These include smoking, a bad diet, obesity, stress/depression, alcohol abuse, low physical activity and use of illicit drugs, including cocaine and amphetamines.
This Is The Stroke And B Vitamins Link
You’ve likely seen the vitamin B headlines. They were something like “Vitamin B Supplements May Lower Stroke Risk.” Unlike many other reports that failed to find a big effect of vitamin B supplementation on stroke risk, new research has now shown a link with taking these vitamins and lower homocysteine levels and significantly reducing the stroke rate.
There are many B vitamins. They include thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, biotin and pantothenic acid. They work collectively, and on their own, in every cell to do many different jobs. This includes helping the body release the energy it gets from carbs, proteins, and fats.
Although all vitamins are great, I feel it’s important to point out that certain B vitamins are more effective than others when stroke prevention is the goal. I’ll begin with what are known to be the two most important B vitamins when it comes to strokes. These are folate (B9) and B12. Both are important regulators of metabolism. Many cereals are now fortified with folate, also known as folic acid. Folic acid is a supplemental form of folate.
The new study showed that many biological factors may affect whether vitamin B supplements will affect stroke risk. Here’s a good tip to remember which foods are high in folate: The word folate has the same root as the word foliage. Leafy greens such as spinach and turnip greens and other fresh fruits and veggies are all great sources of folate. All grain products such as breads, pastas and rice are fortified with folate. Aim to consume 400 mg of folate daily. It promotes red blood cell health and nervous system function.
Vitamin B12 Can Shield You!
B12 is the big one when it comes to the search to prevent strokes. It’s been said that it’ll boost your energy, levels of concentration, memory and mood. It also called cobalamin, a nutrient you need for overall good health.
B12 is one of eight B vitamins that help your body convert the food you eat into glucose. This gives you energy. Vitamin B12 has a number of extra functions. It’s needed for the production of parts of DNA, production of red blood cells, regeneration of bone marrow and the lining of the gastro and respiratory tracts. It’s also for maintaining the health of the central nervous system and spinal cord and prevention of megaloblastic anemia.
How Much You Need And Where To Find It.
The amount of vitamin B12 you need is mainly determined by your age. Here are a few guidelines to remember. From birth to 6 months, 0.4 mcg is the right amount, while infants 7 to 12 months should get 0.5 mcg. Children between 1 to 3 years should get 0.9 mcg. When they’re between 4 to 8, 1.2 mg is ideal. Kids between 9 to 13 years old should have 1.8 mcg. Teens from 14 to 18 should have 2.4 mcg. Pregnant teens and women should get 2.6 mcg, while breastfeeding teens and women should have 2.8 mcg. Adults should get 2.4 mcg.
Vitamin B12 is found naturally in foods that come from animals. This includes meat, fish, eggs and dairy products. It may also be found in some fortified cereals and nutritional yeast. Those who may be at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency include people who have celiac disease, Crohn’s disease or are HIV-positive. People who take prescription antacids, antiseizure medications, colchicine or chemo medications are also at risk.
Vegans and those who don’t eat meat or dairy products are likely to be deficient.
These Are Symptoms Of B12 Deficiency.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include shakiness, muscle weakness, stiff muscles, fatigue, incontinence, low blood pressure and mood swings. Older adults are in the age group most likely to be deficient in vitamin B12.
There is evidence that it can reduce the risk of both heart attacks and strokes. If you think you or a family member may be low, then vitamin B12 supplements are available in pill form, in tablets that dissolve under the tongue and in a gel that you apply inside the nostrils.
Long-term deficiency can cause permanent damage to your brain and central nervous system. Stores of B12 can last for up to a year. Great food sources of vitamin B12 include shellfish, liver, fish, crustaceans, fortified soy and tofu, fortified cereals, red meat, low-fat dairy, and eggs.
These Are The Rest Of The B Vitamins.
Some foods are especially good sources of B vitamins. Other foods have very little. Luckily, B vitamins are widely distributed throughout the food supply. That means if you’re eating a varied, balanced diet with foods from all food groups, you’re most likely getting as many vitamins as you need.
Your body relies on thiamin to regulate your appetite and support your metabolism. Some of the best sources of thiamin are pork, ham, dark green leafy veggies, fortified whole-grain cereals and baked goods, wheat germ, enriched rice, green pea, lentils and nuts like almonds and pecans. Women and men need 1.1 and 1.2 mg daily.
Consume riboflavin for healthy skin. Milk and milk products such as yogurt and cheese are rich in riboflavin. Asparagus, spinach and other dark green leafy veggies, fish, chicken, eggs and fortified cereals also supply large amounts of riboflavin to your diet. Aim for an intake of 1.1 mg.
Chicken, turkey, salmon and other fish including canned tuna packed in water are all excellent natural sources of niacin. Fortified cereals, legumes, peanuts, pasta and whole wheat also supply varying amounts. Niacin promotes healthy nerve function, benefits your cardio system and aids in energy production. It’s thought that men need 16 mg of niacin, while women need 14 mg.
Some of the best sources of vitamin B6 are poultry, seafood, bananas, leafy green veggies like spinach, potatoes, and fortified cereals. Your diet should include 1.3 mg of B6 daily to support new red blood cell growth.
Biotin and Pantothenic Acid
Liver and egg yolks are the richest dietary sources of biotin. This is a nutrient needed for a healthy metabolism. Fortunately, it’s found a lot in the food supply. It’s unlikely that anyone eating a balanced, varied diet will have a deficiency. Salmon, pork, and avocado are good sources. Most fruits and veggies have a little biotin, as do cheeses and grain foods.
Yogurt and avocado are both good sources of biotin, a vitamin needed for enzyme function. It’s also found in a wide variety of foods such as legumes including lentils and split peas, sweet potatoes, mushrooms and broccoli. Consume 5 mg daily.
The importance of taking note of the foods you eat and how they can potentially save you from serious medical conditions like strokes can’t be overemphasized. Seldom do we give food the attention it deserves.
Food has the power to work in two ways. It can elevate you and make you strong. Or, it can debilitate you and leave you weak, leading to many medical conditions that could be prevented. Stay protected by getting your vitamin B.
By Keith Cormican, RD