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Friday, 6 October, 2000, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
Vitamin C may protect against stroke
Vegetables may protect against stroke
Vegetables may protect against stroke
People with high levels of vitamin C in their bloodstream have lower rates of stroke, say Japanese researchers.

The finding is more evidence that eating plenty of fruit and vegetables could protect from the devastating condition.

The study published in the journal Stroke, enrolled more than 2,000 men and women who had the amount of vitamin C in their blood assessed.

Over a 20 year period, 196 of them had strokes - but the risk of stroke was 70% higher in those with the lowest levels of the vitamin in their blood.

Even those patients with other key stroke risk factors such as high blood pressure, high alcohol consumption and smoking, benefited from higher vitamin C levels.

Previous studies have linked higher intake of foods rich in vitamin C and potassium with lower rates of stroke.

Vegetable boost

This study also confirmed the association between vegetables and stroke risk.

Dr Tetsuji Yokoyama, a research associate in epidemiology at the Medical Research Institute of Tokyo Medical and Dental University, said: "The risk of all types of stroke was 58% lower among those who consumed vegetables six to seven days per week, compared to those who only consumed them up to two days a week."

Although blood vitamin C levels do rise if people take vitamin supplements, the rarity of such a practice in Japan at the start of the 20-year study makes it difficult to conclude that supplements can offer the same protection as vegetables.

Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant, which may be able to either prevent the development of the conditions needed for blood vessels to become blocked, or reduce the scale and damage caused by a stroke.

Professor Kennedy Lees, from the Acute Stoke Group at the Western Infirmary in Glasgow, said that there was "every reason" to believe that vitamins might have some protective effect, but that more work was needed to prove it.

"A lack of vitamins may also make you more predisposed to having stroke," he said.

He is currently involved in a research project looking at other vitamins - B6, B12 and folate, which may also have a role in the development of stroke.

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