Researchers have uncovered evidence that suggests vitamin B supplements could help to reduce the risk of stroke, according to a study published in the journal Neurology.

Vitamin B supplements are said to be beneficial for many health issues, including stress, anxiety, depression, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease.

However, according to Xu Yuming of Zhengzhou University in Zhengzhou, China, previous studies have conflicting findings regarding the use of vitamin B supplements and stroke or heart attack.

“Some studies have even suggested that the supplements may increase the risk of these events,” he adds.

In order to determine the role of vitamin B supplements in the risk of stroke, Prof. Yuming and colleagues analyzed 14 randomized clinical trials involving a total of 54,913 participants.

All studies compared use of vitamin B supplements with a placebo, or a very low dosage of the vitamin. All participants were then followed for a period of 6 months.

During this time, there were 2,471 reported strokes over all of the studies.

Results of the analysis revealed that the participants taking the vitamin B supplements had a 7% reduced risk of stroke, compared with those taking the placebo supplements or a low dosage of vitamin B.

However, the findings showed that taking vitamin B supplements did not reduce the severity of strokes or the risk of death.

The researchers found that a supplemental form of folate (vitamin B9) – a vitamin frequently found in fortified cereals – actually reduced the effect of vitamin B on the risk of stroke.

Additionally, the study showed that vitamin B12 did not have any effect on the risk of stroke.

The study authors explain that their “meta-analysis demonstrated that homocysteine-lowering therapy with B vitamin supplementation significantly reduced stroke events.”

They continue:

We did not find significant benefit for reduction of stroke events in subgroup analyses according to intervention dose, reduction of homocysteine level, or baseline blood vitamin B12 concentration. Further analyses of B12 limited to folate-replete participants (with background of cereal folic acid fortification) also revealed no benefit.”

However, the researchers note that the effect of vitamin B on stroke risk is dependent on many underlying aspects:

“Factors including the background of folate fortification of cereal products, follow-up time, status of absorption and response to B vitamin supplementation, the existence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) or high blood pressure (HBP), and baseline participant medication use can influence the effects of B vitamins supplementation.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stroke is the leading cause of death in the US, killing nearly 130,000 Americans every year.

Medical News Today recently reported that although the occurrence of stroke is usually associated with those aged over 65, a study suggests that younger people are now at higher risk of the condition.