Vitamin D deficiency could lead to worse outcomes after stroke and play a role in many other chronic diseases. Wow – all of that just from missing your daily dose of vitamin D? Let’s dig into the science behind it all.
Vitamin D and Stroke
A study from Medscape Medical News revealed that low vitamin D levels are associated with worse outcomes in ischemic stroke patients. So yes, a lack of vitamin D in your diet could lead to ill health. Luckily a PubMed study shows that “vitamin D has also been shown to exert neuroprotective, neuromuscular and osteoprotective effects which may reduce cognitive and functional impairments in poststroke patients.” In essence, the study showed that adequate vitamin D intake is associated with properties that protect the health of your brain, muscles, and bones! There’s the silver lining.
Vitamin D and Other Chronic Diseases
Now, let’s look at it from a different angle: Can vitamin D help prevent the precursors of stroke?
The American Heart Association states that vitamin D deficiency has been associated with obesity, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, endothelial dysfunction, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. Since obesity, diabetes, and hypertension are 3 of the top 5 causes of stroke, and stroke itself is on that list, it’s tempting to draw the conclusion that supplementing with vitamin D can help prevent all of these ailments. However, these facts were drawn from epidemiological studies which are hard to control, so further randomized controlled trials (consider them the ‘ultimate test’ of the scientific world) are needed.
Benefits of Vitamin D for Stroke Survivors
Prevention aside, vitamin D is also essential for bone and muscle strength, two factors that can help prevent stroke survivors from falling. So if you’re a stroke survivor, talk with your doctor about adding vitamin D to your regimen. And if you’d like to learn more about the many other benefits of vitamin D – and there are a lot – here’s an excellent article from the Harvard School of Public Health.
How to Get Your Daily Dose of Vitamin D
You can get your vitamin D from any of these 3 sources: food, supplements, and sunshine. Very few foods contain vitamin D though, some of them being: fatty fish, cheese, and egg yolks. So if you’re not consuming salmon and eggs on a daily basis, you should be getting your vitamin D from either a dietary supplement or the sun.
Yes, that’s right. Your body can actually make vitamin D from sun exposure. That’s why vitamin D is also known as the ‘sunshine’ vitamin! To find out how much vitamin D you need to meet your needs, check out this article by WebMD.
And there you have it. The importance of vitamin D as a way of preventing and recovering from stroke.
How do you get your vitamin D? Sunshine, food, or supplements? Leave us a comment below and let’s get talking!