How vitamins can help stroke patients

February 10, 2009


Taking vitamin supplements is an area fraught with controversy. In the red corner are the true believers who think it can cure everything and in the blue corner the sceptics who won’t accept they do any good at all. As ever, I like the balanced view and personally have found supplements very helpful for some things and not much use for others though in general I am more in favour than not.

The following report though gives me hope that the sceptics might see a chink of light as it was carried out in a bona fide hospital by properly qualifed doctors. In fact it was tested at the Burke Rehabilitation Hospital for stroke victims at Cornell University in the USA. One of the features of hospital stroke patients is that they are often undernourished and have lost weight and the researchers took 100 people who ‘qualified’ and gave half the standard hospital regime for stroke patients but included a multivitamin and mineral supplement and a drink that which would give them calories, protein and 36 mg of vitamin C which they were given every eight hours. The other half of the group got the same, but with double the quantities, and an increased amount of vitamin C – 90mg.

When the patients were studied, the group that had the higher levels of vitamins and minerals were found to have a much better rate of improvement, so that more of them were able to go home after their hospital stay, rather than being moved to a nursing home for more care. The use of supplements for stroke patients is not new, in fact previous researchers have focused on the role of the B vitamins for reducing the risk of strokes by up to 20 percent in those with a genetic predisposition, or who are deemed to be vulnerable.

If this is you, or someone you know then I would first consult a qualified nutritionist who will be able to advise on the dosages required, though the levels of vitamin C in the trial seem woefully to me. Dr Linus Pauling, the Nobel prize winner who pioneered the use of vitamin C for many conditions advocated a minimum of 500 mg a day for healthy people and much higher doses when dealing with chronic illness. Vitamin C is not stored in the body, and is immediately excreted if not used. Increasing the levels needs to be done slowly and with full body awareness as we all have a different tolerance level. Signs that your body has had enough, or that you need to go more slowly are either a tingling sensation on the tongue, or a loosening of the bowels. In either case, cut back your dose and only gradually increase again when things have settled down.


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