Taking a folic acid supplement can decrease the risk of stroke by up to 25 percent, researchers at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago have found. Studies and clinical trials of folic acid have not focused specifically on stroke, said Dr. Xiaobin Wang, director of the Mary Ann and J. Milburn Smith Child Health Research Program at Children's Memorial Research Center. Wang and her colleagues combined the data of eight previous folic acid studies conducted worldwide since 1966, and analyzed the results relating to stroke risk. They found that, on average, folic acid supplementation reduced the risk of stroke by 18 percent. For patients in countries that do not fortify foods with folic acid, the risk of stroke was reduced by 25 percent, Wang said. Breads and cereals in the United States have been fortified with folic acid since 1998, Wang said. Folic acid is a water-soluble B vitamin also found in foods such as dark green leafy vegetables, legumes and citrus fruits. The Children's study urged more research on the topic, including studies on the optimum dosage of folic acid supplements and whether it should be combined with other B vitamins. Still, Wang said the latest findings are exciting. "We believe everyone should benefit from adequate and appropriate dosages of folic acid, either through foods or through supplementation," she said.
Steve - this is a meta-analysis, so we need to be cautious with making this result gospel. However, high homocysteine levels have been linked to strokes and folic acid works to lower homocysteine. Hence, these findings are consistent with the mechanism of folic acid.