Vitamins for stroke recovery can help boost brain health, but beware of snake oil salesmen, as there’s no one-pill-fits-all answer.
Some supplements that help improve stroke recovery in one person may end up worsening health in another person. To help you avoid this mistake, you’re about to learn why some stroke supplements can be dangerous.
Then, we’ll share an updated list of the best vitamins for stroke recovery.
Take Supplements for Stroke Recovery with Extreme Caution
Before we dig into the list of science-backed vitamins and supplements for stroke recovery, you need to proceed with caution.
You MUST check with your doctor before adding new supplements to your regimen because they can interfere with medication. Furthermore, some stroke supplements are deceiving and can actually make your health worse.
For example, ginko biloba is an herb that is used to help prevent ischemic stroke (the type of stroke caused by a clot) because it’s a natural blood thinner…
However, that means it can also put people with a history of hemorrhagic stroke (the type of stroke caused by a bleed) at higher risk of stroke!
To worsen the situation, this also means that complications can arise if you’re already on blood thinning medication.
This is why it’s extremely important to tell your doctor about any new supplements that you want to take before you try them.
Now, let’s dig into the list of the top supplements and vitamins for stroke recovery.
The Best Science-Backed Vitamins for Stroke Recovery
After reviewing the latest clinical research, here are the best supplements and vitamins for stroke recovery:
1. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is one of the best vitamins for stroke recovery because the studies are robust.
Low levels of vitamin D are associated with worse outcomes after ischemic stroke, which account for 87% of all strokes in America.
Fortunately, after supplementing with vitamin D, “there is a significant improvement in stroke outcomes after 3 months.” (Source: Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research)
Getting sufficient vitamin D can also help boost your health by providing neuroprotective, neuromuscular, and osteoprotective benefits. This may help reduce cognitive and functional impairments in stroke patients. (Source: Current Drug Targets)
Furthermore, vitamin D deficiency is associated with the stroke risk factors of hypertension, obesity, and diabetes. (Source: Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care)
By getting your daily vitamin D, you can help reduce your risk of a second stroke and aid your brain in recovery.
How to get vitamin D naturally:
Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin. Your body can synthesize vitamin D from sun exposure. Just be sun smart and get exposure during off-peak hours (before 10am and after 4pm).
If you can’t get sun exposure due to other medical restrictions (like heightened risk of skin cancer), you can get it from dietary sources like fatty fish, cheese, and egg yolks.
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with worse outcomes after stroke, while supplementation is associated with better outcomes.
Probiotics aren’t a vitamin or mineral. Rather, probiotics are the “good” bacteria that comprise your microbiome, the 100 trillion microbes that live inside your gut.
The bacteria living inside your body serve a very important role – they even have a nervous system of their own called the enteric nervous system.
Through this internal ecosystem, the bacteria in your gut actually communicate with your brain through the gut-brain axis. This connection is bidirectional, which means that it goes both ways. (Source: Annals of Gastroenerology)
Since gut health plays a role in brain health, probiotics made the list of top supplements for stroke recovery.
How to get probiotics naturally:
Great dietary sources of probiotics include fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, tempeh, kimchi, and miso.
You need “good” bacteria to support your microbiome, which influences brain health and function via the gut-brain axis.
3. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 can support stroke recovery by boosting proper functioning and development of the brain and nerve cells. (Source: Viatcheslav Wlassoff, PhD)
This helps with stroke recovery because rehabilitation revolves around neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to reorganize itself, create new pathways, and rearrange existing ones.
Furthermore, vitamin B12 deficiency is associated with a type of inflammation that damages the blood vessels. When blood vessels become damaged, excess deposits can develop and interrupt blood flow. If this happens to an artery in the brain, it can lead to a stroke. (Source: VeryWell Health)
How to get vitamin B12 naturally:
Vitamin B12 can be found in animal products like fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and milk. If you have a history of stroke risk factors like high cholesterol or atherosclerosis, try lean sources like fish and poultry.
Vitamin B12 provides critical support for both brain health and blood vessel health.
4. Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, can help people recover brain function after stroke. There are 2 reasons for this huge benefit.
First, niacin directly helps with neuroplasticity, which is the primary driver of recovery from stroke. Second, niacin has a proven track record of boosting “good” cholesterol levels, which are statistically low in stroke survivors. (Source: MedicineNet)
While better cholesterol doesn’t directly affect recovery, it does help reduce the risk of a second or recurrent stroke, which is a huge plus.
How to get niacin naturally:
You can find vitamin B3 in tuna, chicken, turkey, and salmon. For some meatless options, you can also find vitamin B3 in peanuts and brown rice – just in lesser quantities.
Vitamin B3 directly helps with neuroplasticity, which is driving mechanism of stroke recovery.
5. DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid)
DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that aids brain health. While omega-3s are not vitamins, they still made the list because these nutrients can help with stroke recovery by assisting the brain.
DHA is essential for brain growth in infants, and it’s also required for maintenance of normal brain function in adults. Furthermore, some studies suggest that DHA has a positive effect on stroke risk factors like hypertension and atherosclerosis. (Source: Pharmacological Research)
DHA is an essential fatty acid, meaning your body cannot produce it on its own – you must get it from your diet (or supplements).
How to get DHA:
This omega-3 can be found in fatty fish like salmon. If you cannot eat fatty fish, due to stroke risk factors like atherosclerosis, then consider fish oil supplements, which provide DHA.
However, if you are on blood thinners like Wayfarin, proceed with extreme caution. Fish oil is contraindicated for some blood thinners.
This is a great example of why you should always check with your doctor before taking new supplements.
DHA helps with brain function, and you must get it through your diet or supplements because your brain cannot produce it on its own.
6. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
CoQ10 is most famous for promoting heart health – but it’s good for your brain, too.
The nutrient is a powerful antioxidant provides protection from free radicals, which are toxic molecules associated with disease.
Free radicals are believed to play a role in cardiovascular disease, which is a precursor to stroke. That’s why CoQ10 made the list of top vitamins for stroke recovery, even though it’s a nutrient and not a vitamin.
Supplementation with CoQ10 can reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and therefore reduce your risk of a second stroke.
Also, low CoQ10 levels have been associated with greater tissue damage to the brain during stroke. (Source: Medical News Today)
How to get CoQ10 naturally:
CoQ10 can be found in most liver organs like heart, liver, and kidney. However, organ meats are also high in cholesterol and saturated fats, which exacerbate certain stroke risk factors like high cholesterol and obesity.
You can get small amounts of CoQ10 from spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower. Due to the low levels of CoQ10 in non-fatty dietary sources, supplementation may be more suitable for stroke patients.
Just be sure to check with your doctor first.
CoQ10 can boost recovery from stroke by protecting you from damaging free radicals associated with diseases like stroke.
7. Vitamin C
Vitamin C deficiency might be a stroke risk factor, especially in people with a history of hemorrhagic stroke (the type of stroke caused by a burst artery in the brain).
In a study from the American Academy of Neurology, 65 survivors of hemorrhagic stroke were compared to 65 healthy people. On average, those who suffered a stroke had depleted levels of vitamin C while healthy people did not.
Study author Stephane Vannier, MD, concluded that “vitamin C deficiency should be considered a risk factor for this severe type of stroke.”
How to get vitamin C naturally:
While oranges are the most well-known source of vitamin C, there are even better sources like papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, and strawberries.
Dr. Stephane Vannier, from Pontchaillou University Hospital in Rennes, does not recommend supplementing vitamin C if you are not deficient.
People with a history of hemorrhagic stroke should pay attention to their vitamin C levels to promote overall health.
How to Get These Stroke Supplements without Breaking Your Budget
Instead of hopping on Amazon to buy all these supplements for stroke recovery, which can be quite expensive, there’s another alternative to consider first:
Eat a variety of “whole foods” every day, especially foods that help stroke recovery.
“Whole foods” are foods that most resemble their true form. These foods are minimally touched by processing, which can strip foods of essential vitamins and minerals.
To make sure you’re covering all your nutritional bases, it’s best to eat a variety of whole foods. You’re much less likely to develop a nutrient deficiency because you have a higher chance of eating foods with the particular nutrients you need.
Look to your diet first to get all the right nutrients and vitamins for stroke recovery. Then, check with your doctor before you consider supplementing.