Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Increased Stroke Risk

What You Need to Know: Low vitamin D levels are linked to an increased risk for severe stroke and poor health in stroke survivors.

The Evidence: The study included 96 stroke patients who were treated at a U.S. hospital between 2013 and 2014. All had experienced an ischemic stroke.

  • People with low blood levels of vitamin D — less than 30 ng/mL — had about two times larger areas of dead tissue resulting from obstruction of the blood supply than those with normal vitamin D levels.
  • The researchers also found that for each 10 ng/mL reduction in vitamin D level, the odds of a healthy recovery in the 3 months after stroke fell by about half, regardless of age or initial stroke severity.

“It’s too early to draw firm conclusions from our small study,” senior author Nils Henninger, MD, assistant professor of neurology and psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, said in an American Stroke Association news release. “However, the results do provide the impetus for further rigorous investigations into the association of vitamin D status and stroke severity. If our findings are replicated, the next logical step may be to test whether supplementation can protect patients at high risk for stroke.”

My Take: Low vitamin D levels have been associated with a myriad of diseases, ranging from Breast and colon cancer to heart attacks, rheumatoid arthritis, poor bone health, diabetes, macular degeneration, stroke, and other medical problems. Whether you can change your risk by raising your vitamin D levels remains unknown. I try to get a bit of sun, but not enough to cause a burn. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

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Reference: Henninger N et al. Abstract W MP62. Presented at: International Stroke Conference 2015; Feb. 11-13, 2015; Nashville, TN.

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