Stroke: The common vitamin deficiency raising the risk of stroke in ‘children and adults’

Stroke: The common vitamin deficiency raising the risk of stroke in ‘children and adults’

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Strokes occur when nutrient-rich blood is unable to reach the brain, due to a blockage or a burst in the vessels supplying the organ. The first signs of trouble typically include lopsidedness in the face or slurred speech. It is well established that high blood pressure is the single biggest risk factor for the condition. One vitamin deficiency that is prevalent in the UK, however, may also be predisposing both children and adults to the condition.

According to Verywell Health, “vitamin B12 deficiency is one of the lesser-known factors that can contribute to stroke risk.

“Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient found in several types of food.

“Nutritional deficiency has long been known to cause health problems, particularly in children and pregnant women.

“It turns out that not getting enough vitamin B12 can contribute to stroke among people of all ages, and it can lead to an increased risk of stroke among children and pregnant women as well.”

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Researchers have put the relationship between B12 deficiency and stroke down to high levels of the chemical homocysteine.

This causes inflammation of the blood vessels, which contributes to stroke by interrupting blood flow to the brain.

High levels of homocysteine are also associated with oxidative damage, however.

Oxidative damage is notorious for harming the blood vessels, which heightens the likelihood of blood clots and bleeding.

“Therefore, vitamin B12 deficiency can be a culprit in a cascade of stroke-inducing physiological events,” adds VeryWell Health.

In one study, researchers suggest another potential mechanism through which B12 deficiency increases the risk of stroke includes changes in myelination.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, suggests the prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency is around six percent in people aged less than 60 years old.

The health watchdog adds: “For people aged over 60 years, this risks to around 20 percent.

“For people with vegan diets, around 11 percent are deficient in vitamin B12.”

The list of B12 deficiency symptoms is extensive and encompasses both neurological and physical defects.

Some of the most common symptoms include fatigue, weakness, and a tingling sensation in the hands and feet.

In some severe cases, memory loss, or difficulty thinking and reasoning can strike.

How to avoid B12 deficiency

Plants don’t produce B12, but the nutrient can be found in meat, eggs, poultry, dairy products and other foods derived from animals.

Those who exclude these food sources from their diet are therefore encouraged to take supplements or injections.

It’s important to keep B12 levels in check after undergoing certain types of surgery too, as this could interfere with the body’s ability to absorb B12.

Weight-loss surgery for example, which is performed on the stomach, can deplete levels of intrinsic factor, a hormone found in the lining of the organ that enables uptake of B12 by the body.

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