New Research: If You’re Deficient in This Vitamin, It Could Raise Your Stroke Risk by 28%

Updated: Jun. 21, 2024

A review of almost 30 studies on stroke risk and prognosis suggests that people lacking in this vitamin could be more in danger of both having a stroke, and poor recovery after a stroke.

By 2050, 60% of US adults could be affected by heart disease and stroke, according to a June 2024 announcement from the American Heart Association (AHA). “The last decade has seen a surge of cardiovascular risk factors such as uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, each of which raises the risks of developing heart disease and stroke,” Dhruv S. Kazi, MD, MS, associate director of the Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Center for Outcomes Research in Cardiology and director of the cardiac critical care unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, says in the AHA’s press release. So how can we manage those risk factors?

Eating a heart-healthy diet and getting regular exercise are great ways to start taking control of your cardiovascular wellness, but making comprehensive lifestyle changes can be daunting. If you want to start small, new research out of China suggests that reducing your risk of stroke could be as simple as taking a certain daily supplement.

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Prior research indicates that a deficiency in vitamin D could raise your risk of heart disease, with cardiologists even telling The Healthy by Reader’s Digest that prioritizing vitamin D in their diet is one of the primary habits they’ve formed to protect their heart health. Now, a June 2024 meta-analysis published in Brain and Behavior reveals that the protection could also extend to reducing stroke risk.

The researchers reviewed 27 studies involving 45,302 participants. Twenty of those studies focused on vitamin D levels and the risk of stroke, and seven focused on vitamin D levels and stroke prognosis.

The researchers observed that people with low vitamin D levels had a 28% higher risk of having a stroke and nearly three times the risk of a poor recovery after a stroke. Though there was no significant link between low vitamin D levels and the risk of hemorrhagic stroke or bleeding in the brain, there was a strong connection between low vitamin D levels and an increased risk of ischemic stroke caused by blood clots.

Getting enough vitamin D through supplements or the right diet won’t be enough by itself to offset other unhealthy choices. However, when combined with a heart-healthy lifestyle, it could be a crucial factor in protecting yourself from cardiovascular disease and stroke.