Even when a person is fortunate enough to survive a stroke they can be left with significant brain damage. When blood supply is cut off to the brain for even short periods of time it can lead to permanent neuron cell death. When these neurons or nerve cells die it can cause a stroke survivor to have difficulty speaking, moving certain parts of the body, or walking – depending upon which nerves are damaged. The good news? A new study now shows that neuron cell death after a stroke may be reduced by taking vitamin E supplements.
The Benefits of Taking Vitamin E After a Stroke
In a study published in the Journal of Neurochemistry researchers found that when they gave mice that had experienced an experimentally induced form of stroke a vitamin E supplement called alpha-tocotrienol, they experienced reduced neuron cell death. In fact, the nerve cells survived at a four times higher rate than those in mice who didn’t receive alpha-tocotrienol. The good news is that it didn’t take a high dose of vitamin E to see this result.
Types of Vitamin E
Most people think vitamin E only comes in a single form, but there are actually eight different types – all of which have a slightly different activity. These include four different types of tocopherols and four types of tocotrienols. The type of vitamin E commonly found in vitamin E supplements at the health food store is the alpha tocopherol form. While tocopherols have been more extensively studied, there’s some evidence that the tocotrienols may have greater benefits – particularly when it comes to preventing neuron cell death. Tocotrienols appear to have greater antioxidant activity than the tocopherols.
How Does Vitamin E Protect the Brain After a Stroke?
Researchers believe that alpha-tocotrienol reduces neuron cell death after a stroke by blocking the effects of a neurotransmitter called glutamate. After a stroke, large amounts of this neurotransmitter are released into the brain which can damage nerve cells and lead to the loss of nerve function.
The Benefits of Taking Vitamin E After a Stroke: The Bottom Line?
Of course, this is a mouse study and it’s premature to extrapolate the data to humans. On the plus side, if these results are replicated in human studies, taking alpha-tocotrienol after a stroke could be a safe way to prevent nerve damage and reduce brain cell loss. It may be too early to jump on board just yet since taking high doses of vitamin E could have negative effects. Hopefully, further human studies will be done soon.