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Vitamin E May Protect your Brain Following Stroke

A recent study has found yet another health benefit of vitamin E; it may help prevent brain damage following a stroke.

The most damaging effect of a stroke is when a neurotransmitter called glutamate is released in response to blocked blood flow to the brain.

Glutamate actually plays a pivotal role in learning and memory but too much glutamate releases a toxic acid called arachidonic acid which can kill brain cells and neurons.

There are eight forms of vitamin E: four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) and four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta). Alpha-tocopherol is the main source found in our diets, and in most supplements.

Researchers from Ohio State University conducted the study, and the findings were published in the January 2010 edition of the Journal of Neurochemistry.

For the study, the researchers introduced excess glutamate into the brains of rats, to mimic the brain environment following a stroke. Half of the rats were given alpha-tocotrienol, and the glutamate in their brain cells was then measured.

The researchers found that rats given the vitamin E had a 60% reduction in glutamate levels, resulting in a cell survival rate four times higher than the other mice in the study.

The researchers said these findings, which came after seven years of research, show that Vitamin E has amazing potential as a neuroprotective agent. More studies, particularly those involving humans, will help extend the research.

Vitamin E can be found in a number of foods, but only in small quantities. For this reason, many people do not get enough vitamin E daily and could benefit from a supplement. The best supplements have vitamin E in the natural form (the synthetic version is about half as effective) and liquid supplements are usually best.

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