During stroke recovery, proper nutrition is essential. A healthy diet can help you maintain a healthy weight – which can help reduce your risk of a second stroke – and provide your body with the fuel it needs to heal itself.
These essential vitamins for stroke recovery can be found in supplements, or they can be found in whole foods – which is a much better way to go. We’ll cover how to do that at the end.
Important Note: Vitamins Can Interfere with Medication and Create Complications!
The purpose of this article is to inform you of vitamins that can help promote health and wellbeing.
We ABSOLUTELY recommend running new supplements by your doctor first because they can interfere with any medication you’re taking.
For example, ginko biloba is an herb that is widely used to help prevent ischemic stroke because it’s a natural blood thinner. Meaning, complications can arise if you’re already on blood thinning medication.
Be safe and be sure to run everything by your doctor. We cannot stress this enough!
Now, onto the top 3 vitamins.
1. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
CoQ10 is powerful antioxidant that helps protect your tissues from the damage that toxic molecules, also known as free radicals, cause. Bodily stress caused by these free radicals is believed to play a role in many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, a precursor to stroke.
Supplementation with CoQ10 can reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and therefore reduce your risk of a second stroke. Also, low CoQ10 levels have been associated with greater tissue damage to the brain during stroke.
CoQ10 can be found in most liver organs like heart, liver, and kidney… But if you’re not too keen on organ meats (and if you’re not, we don’t blame you) then you can also find smaller amounts of CoQ10 in spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower.
2. Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
This one is simple: Vitamin B3 can help you recover brain function after stroke. Sweet! And if that isn’t reason enough to love this B vitamin, it also helps boost ‘good’ cholesterol levels, which are typically very low in stroke survivors.
You can find vitamin B3 in tuna, chicken, turkey, and salmon. For some meatless options, you can also find vitamin B3 in peanuts and brown rice – just in lesser quantities.
3. Fish Oil
Fish oil is a great source of EPA and DHA – two omega-3 fatty acids that are excellent for a healthy brain.
Fish oil can help you in two ways.
This makes fish oil helpful for both stroke prevention and stroke recovery. Score!
Other Important Vitamins (and One Non-Vitamin)
Update: This article has become one of most popular! As a thank you for taking the time to read our blog, we added some honorable mentions.
Other important vitamins that can help boost stroke recovery are:
Omega 3’s are essential for healthy brain function because they’re an essential fat and, well, your brain is made of 60% fat! Vitamin B12 plays a strong role in both brain and nerve health while vitamin D plays a strong role in brain and muscular health.
Vitamin C can help boost your stroke prevention efforts – and your immune system!
Probiotics are interesting because they aren’t a vitamin or a mineral. Instead, probiotics are bacteria that comprise your microbiome, which consists of 100 trillion little microbes that live inside your gut. Your microbiome has a nervous system of it’s own called the enteric nervous system where it communicates with your brain through the gut-brain axis.
When this communication is impaired, all sorts of health problems can arise, including depression and impaired brain function.
It’s a thick topic and a recent discovery, so refer to this series for more information.
How to Get These Vitamins without Spending Tons of Extra Money
As you can see, many vitamins and nutrients play a vital role in protecting your health – and it can seem a little overwhelming. If you’re not too keen on going out and buying all these supplements, there’s actually a better alternative:
Eat a variety of whole foods every day.
The two keys here are variety and whole.
Whole foods are foods that most resemble their true form and are minimally touched by processing. When foods are processed, it can strip them of many essential vitamins and minerals.
For example, rice is a much better choice than processed white pasta; roasted vegetables pack way more nutrients than fried potatoes; and a blueberry/banana/yogurt parfait is much healthier than blueberry cheesecake.
When we eat a wide variety of whole foods, we’re much less likely to develop a deficiency because you have a higher chance of eating foods with the particular nutrients you need. The easiest way to do this: Listen to your body. It will tell you what you need.
Craving fish tacos?
You probably need the omega 3’s and vitamin D that fish contains. So go for it! But skip the processed restaurant version. Enjoy a nice home-cooked dinner with fish and other whole foods and your body will be satisfied and prepared to recover from stroke with all the resources it needs.
We hope this article has helped you better understand how proper nutrition can take your recovery to the next level.