When French medical researchers compared 65 people who had experienced the most damaging of two kinds of stroke against 65 people who had never had a stroke, they found that most of the stroke patients didn’t have as much vitamin C in their bloodstreams as their healthier counterparts.

Vitamins word cloudIt’s unclear at this time how vitamin C protects against stroke but it could help regulate blood pressure. During pregnancy, women are more prone to developing high blood pressure than when not pregnant. In addition to increasing the risk of stroke during or after pregnancy, high blood pressure is also associated with preeclampsia and eclampsia, two conditions that can threaten a pregnancy and lead to premature delivery.

Stephane Vannier, MD, led the study conducted at the Pontchaillou University Hospital with support from the University of Rennes, France. The Vannier team focused on hemorrhagic stroke, the form of stroke caused by a rupture of a blood vessel within the brain. Ischemic stroke, caused by a blockage of blood flow, is more common but hemorrhagic strokes are more damaging and more often fatal.

The control group (the 65 people who had never had a stroke) had healthy levels of vitamin C in their bloodstreams but variations were found in the 65 stroke patients:

  • 41% had vitamin C levels considered normal
  • 45% had depleted levels of vitamin C in their bloodstreams
  • 14% were clinically deficient in vitamin C

Vannier says, “Our results show that vitamin C deficiency should be considered a risk factor for this severe type of stroke.” According to Vannier, additional risk factors identified in the study include:

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Excess weight
  • High blood pressure
  • Previous studies have linked vitamin C deficiencies with heart disease, further indication it might be beneficial for blood pressure regulation

Vannier says vitamin C seems also to be beneficial for collagen creation, a protein found in the connective tissue of the skin, bones, and other organs.

Vitamin C supplements are readily available but they’re not always digested thoroughly. Dietary sources may be utilized better by the body and may be less expensive than supplements. Also, the vitamin C from foods comes with other nutrients, too, including other vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that aren’t found in supplements.

Some readily available foods high in vitamin C include oranges and other citrus fruits, strawberries, papaya, peppers, and broccoli. Choose whole fruits and vegetables instead of juices because juices are absorbed too quickly into the bloodstream, where their sugar content can trigger insulin reactions and blood sugar imbalances.

Source: “Can Citrus Ward Off Your Risk of Stroke? (press release).” American Academy of Neurology. American Academy of Neurology. n.d. Web. Feb 19, 2014.