All B vitamins are crucial for overall brain health, but vitamin B12 may be the most important. That’s because B12 may help improve general cognitive and motor function, and may even help prevent a second stroke.
Vitamin B12 does this by repairing and protecting the health of neurons, the basic cells of the brain. This has enormous implications for stroke recovery.
In fact, vitamin B12 can help stroke patients regenerate neurons and improve neural communications. This can allow survivors to improve various stroke side effects, such as impaired movement.
To learn more about the numerous benefits B12 can offer to stroke patients, read on.
Benefits of Vitamin B12 for Stroke Recovery
Vitamin B12 stands out as one of the top vitamins for stroke recovery because of the way it interacts with the brain. Indeed, without B12, many crucial cognitive processes would cease entirely.
The following are the most significant benefits that vitamin B12 offers for stroke patients:
1. Promotes Brain and Nerve Function
Vitamin B12 plays an essential role in the proper functioning of brain and nerve cells.
For example, B12 aids in the production and maintenance of myelin sheaths, which are insulating layers of protein and fat that form around your nerves. These sheaths protect the nerves of the central and peripheral nervous system, and allow neural impulses to travel back and forth efficiently.
These impulses are what allow you to think logically, pay attention, and control your muscles. Essentially, they enable you to interact meaningfully with the world.
B12 also helps with the formation of neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that transmit impulses between neurons.
Loss of communication between neurons is common after stroke and is one of the primary causes behind the most common stroke side effects. Therefore, vitamin B12 can help you improve brain and nerve function after stroke. But that’s not all this vitamin has to offer.
2. Repairs the Brain After Stroke
In addition to boosting overall brain function, vitamin B12 also promotes axonal growth after a brain injury or stroke.
Axons are the part of a neuron that connects it to other neurons. They are where the electrical impulses that a neuron sends travel.
Without axons, therefore, it would be impossible for any of the billions of neurons in your brain to communicate with each other. But after a stroke, many of these axons are destroyed when blood flow is cut off. This leads to a loss of function.
That’s why vitamin B12 is so crucial. It can help repair damaged axons and even plays a role in regenerating nerve cells. This means it can prevent some of the more serious side effects of stroke and promote a fuller recovery.
3. Reduces Stroke Risk
Vitamin B12 can also reduce a stroke patient’s risk of having another stroke. It does this by lowering the levels of homocysteine in the blood, an amino acid associated with heart disease and stroke.
According to a meta-analysis of studies, researchers have found that vitamin B12 significantly reduces stroke risk by almost ten percent. It’s especially helpful if stroke survivors receive it near the beginning of their recovery.
This does not mean that taking B12 does not make a difference during the later stages of recovery. It simply means the sooner, the better.
How to Get More Vitamin B12 During Stroke Recovery
Since the body does not produce vitamin B12 naturally, you must get it from your diet. B12 is found mainly in animal products, such as:
- Egg yolk
- Milk and other dairy products, including cheese and yogurt.
Because vitamin B12 is found in animal products, it means that people following vegan diets are vulnerable to becoming deficient in vitamin B12. If you limit your intake of animal products, talk to your doctor about getting tested for vitamin deficiencies.
You can also ask your doctor if it’s appropriate for you to take vitamin B12 supplements. It’s important to ask your doctor before taking these supplements because some can interact with certain medications or impact preexisting health conditions. Your doctor knows your medical history best, so it’s important to ask.
Vitamin B12 and Stroke Rehabilitation
Vitamin B12 is a crucial nutrient for preserving brain and nerve health, and can even help stroke patients improve their cognitive abilities. B12 is naturally found in most animal products, but supplements are also a great source.
We hope this article inspires you to add more vitamin B12 to your diet and enhance your stroke recovery.