Vitamin D may aid in recovery from stroke
A new randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Clinical Diagnostic Research found that vitamin D supplementation significantly improved stroke outcome.
Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide and the number one cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States. An estimated 15 million people worldwide suffer a stroke each year.
Ischemic stroke accounts for about 87 percent of all stroke cases. Ischemic strokes occur when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel in the brain, preventing blood from flowing to the brain. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die.
Research has found that vitamin D deficiency is associated with ischemic stroke along with contributing factors, such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. Furthermore, a study found that ischemic stroke patients with the highest vitamin D levels had better functional outcomes at three months than those with the lowest vitamin D levels.
Although research has shown an association between vitamin D deficiency and stroke, studies have not evaluated the effects of vitamin D supplementation in ischemic stroke patients. Therefore, researchers from India recently conducted a randomized controlled trial to test the hypothesis that vitamin D supplementation leads to improved functional outcome in ischemic stroke patients compared with ischemic stroke patients receiving only conventional treatment.
A total of 66 ischemic stroke patients with vitamin D levels below 30 ng/ml were enrolled into the study, with average vitamin D levels of 18.2 ng/ml. All patients were between the ages of 50 and 80 years old.
Half of the patients received only conventional treatment. The other half received one 6 lac IU cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) injection along with conventional treatment. The researchers chose to use one vitamin D injection opposed to oral supplementation to avoid problems of compliance. A prior study found that 6 lac IU cholecalciferol injections led to vitamin D sufficiency in previously deficient individuals.
The researchers used the long term Scandinavian Stroke Scale (SSS) to assess the severity of ischemic stroke before and after three months. The long term SSS evaluates motor function, orientation and language. Low scores suggest more severe ischemic stroke.
The researchers found that the average SSS score improved by 6.39 points in the patients who received vitamin D; whereas, the average SSS score only improved by 2.50 points in those who did not receive vitamin D (p < 0.001). This indicated that vitamin D significantly improved stroke recovery.
The researchers concluded,
“Vitamin D is a potential risk factor for stroke and vitamin D supplementation has better outcome in ischemic stroke patients with vitamin D deficiency.”
They went on to state,
“Screening for vitamin D status is essential in ischemic stroke patients and supplementation [should] be done to maintain vitamin D at normal levels.”
The study possessed a few limitations. First, the study used one intramuscular dose of vitamin D. Response to cholecalciferol injections is not uniform in patients, which can result in improper doses being administered. Furthermore, the researchers did not assess vitamin D levels after the patients received the injection; therefore, we cannot be certain that all patients achieved vitamin D sufficiency. The Vitamin D Council recommends daily vitamin D supplementation to closely mimic the daily sun exposure that our ancestors received.
Another study limitation was the relatively small sample size. Lastly, although the study followed a randomized controlled trial design (the gold standard of research), the control group did not receive a placebo pill. Therefore, some of the benefits experienced by the vitamin D group may have been caused by the placebo effect. Nevertheless, the study presented strong findings that elicit further randomized controlled trials.
Tovey, A. & Cannell, JJ. Vitamin D may aid in recovery from stroke. The Vitamin D Council Blog & Newsletter, May, 2017.
Higher vitamin D levels linked to higher executive functioning in adolescents
A recent randomized, double-blind, placebo control trial published in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology found that vitamin D levels may play a crucial role in the mental health and cognitive function of young individuals.
Due to the presence of vitamin D receptors on the brain, researchers believe that vitamin D plays a role in cognitive function, mental health and brain development. The majority of research devoted to this topic is focused on adult and elderly brain function, with limited efforts directed towards the exploration of vitamin D on adolescent cognition.
During adolescence, many physiological changes take place, including major hormonal shifts and brain development. Researchers often associate these changes with significant mood changes and problematic behavior, as well as the further development of executive functioning. Executive functioning is characterized by strategic and analytical thought, planning and decision making.
Researchers from this study evaluated the relationship between vitamin D supplementation and executive functioning among 50 adolescents between the ages of 13-14 over the span of about 5-6 months. The participants were divided into two groups: a vitamin D group who received 1,520 IU of vitamin D per day and a placebo group who received a daily dummy pill. Pre-and post-intervention blood draws were taken from all of the adolescents. All the the participants completed two test of executive function before and after the study.
This is what the researchers found after analysis:
– The average vitamin D level at the beginning of the study was 16.8 ng/ml.
– Vitamin D levels in the experimental group increased to 24.8 ng/ml after 5 months of supplementing with 1,520 IU of vitamin D3
– The vitamin D group significantly improved performance results on one of the tests of executive functions, the Tower of Hanoi test, while the placebo group did not (p=0.001).
– The vitamin D experimental group significantly improved performance results on another test of of executive functioning, the Tower of London test, while the placebo group did not (p=0.006).
Overall, the researchers concluded that those in the vitamin D intervention group experienced improved executive functioning compared to the placebo group. These findings support the theory that vitamin D plays a role in the cognitive function and potentially the development of more intelligent adolescent individuals.
The strength of this study design further solidified the legitimacy of these findings. In addition, nearly all of the participants were deficient at baseline, and supplementation was administered daily rather than weekly or monthly. However, the study was limited by its small sample size and short intervention. The researchers also noted that it would be important to explore the effects of different doses of vitamin D compared between adolescent groups.
Future studies should investigate the use of higher vitamin D doses to determine whether more significant effects on adolescent cognition occur. Remember, for children, we recommend 1,000 IU per 25 lbs of body weight, and for adults, 5,000-10,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily.
Peterson, R. & Cannell, JJ. Higher vitamin D levels linked to higher executive functioning in adolescents. The Vitamin D Council Blog & Newsletter, May, 2016.
BJØRN, G. et al. Linking vitamin D status, executive functioning and self-perceived mental health in adolescents through multivariate analysis: A randomized double-blind placebo control trial. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 2017.
Imagine you are an obstetrician and half your patients took drug X in the first trimester for morning sickness, and the other half took nothing. In this imaginary scenario, a single pediatrician took care of all the infants you delivered. Say that pediatrician came to you and reported that the children of the mothers who took drug X were four times more likely to develop autism than the children of the mothers who took nothing. What would you do? You would stop all patients from taking drug X and report the findings to the FDA who would readily ban the sale of the drug and remove it from pharmacies.
It turns out that there is a sort of “drug” that causes autism. That “drug” is gestational vitamin D deficiency. Very recently, researchers in China found the lowest quartile (1/4) of 25(OH)D levels among pregnant women in their first trimester were associated with a four-fold risk of ASD in the subsequent offspring. [i] In the same study, higher levels of 25(OH)D were associated with decreasing severity of ASD (R=-0.3, P = 0.001), which helps confirm the two are associated. In this study, maternal 25(OH)D levels in the lower 3 quartiles (1, 2, 3) compared to the highest quartile (4) were associated with increased odds of autism (almost four-fold) in the offspring: [Odds Ratio (OR), Q1: OR = 3.99, (P=0.001); Q2: OR = 2.68, (P=0.006); Q3: OR = 1.36, (P=0.25)].
However, vitamin D is not accredited for its therapeutic benefits in disease prevention or treatment by the FDA and mainstream medicine. Therefore, until this occurs, autism rates will continue to rise.
Original article is here: How much evidence is needed for change to occur?
Jeff T Bowles: Being the author of the best-selling book on Vitamin D3 in the world, and given the topic of the book was the miraculous results of my one year experiment of taking HIGH DOSES of vitamin D3, puts me in the unique position of being the sounding board for many hundreds if not a few thousands of others who have embarked on their own high dose vitamin d3 experiment. Nobody on planet earth has this amount of unusual and exciting knowledge, and I will be sharing it with you in this series of 100 short articles describing a disease and some sort of amazing result achieved with high dose D3 therapy.
Sincerely Jeff T. Bowles