If reducing the likelihood of neural tube defects in unborn children and helping prevent heart disease aren’t reasons enough to add folic acid supplements to your daily regime, now there’s another one.

According to new research, Vitamin B-9 can slash high blood pressure sufferers’ risk of suffering a stroke by nearly 75%.

The study looked at more than 10,000 Chinese adults between 45 and 75 years old, who had high blood pressure but had never had a stroke or heart attack.

The participants were all given a blood pressure-lowering medication, with or without folic acid, and followed up for 4 years.

When looking at a subgroup of participants believed to have a higher risk of stroke, 1.8% of people who took folic acid had a stroke compared with 5.6% who did not. Participants were assessed as having a higher risk of stroke if they had higher levels of homocysteine in the blood and lower levels of platelets.

The study’s authors believe folic acid may be a simple, safe and inexpensive way to combat stroke, which occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off.

The study was carried out by researchers in China and the US from a number of institutions, including Peking University First Hospital, Capital Medical University Beijing, Nanchang University, Guangdong Provincial Hospital of Chinese Medicine, Duke University and Johns Hopkins University.

It was published in thepeer-reviewed Journal of the American College of Cardiology.