One of the markers to predict a person’s overall health status is by measuring homocysteine levels in the blood. In fact, research shows that homocysteine levels are a better indicator of heart attacks and strokes than high cholesterol levels.
Many people have never heard of homocysteine and don’t know to ask their doctor for a homocysteine blood test as part of a health and wellness check-up. The reason most doctors do not suggest this test is because, currently, there are no patented drugs that are designed to specifically lower blood levels of homocysteine. And those doctors who actually understand the diagnostic value of homocysteine may be reluctant to order a homocysteine level test for their patients because they wouldn’t know what to prescribe for those patients with high levels.
What is Homocysteine?
Homocysteine is an amino acid that the body makes from another amino acid called methionine. You obtain methionine from many protein-dense foods including sunflower seeds, eggs, meat and fish.
In the best case scenario, homocysteine is converted into two substances called SAMe (S-adenosyl methionine) and glutathione. Both SAMe and glutathione have health-promoting effects. Specifically, SAMe helps to prevent depression, arthritis, and liver damage. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant and detoxifying agent that helps to slow down aging. Therefore we see the necessity of the body being able to convert homocystein into SAMe and glutathione.
Conversion of homocysteine to SAMe requires adequate levels of folate, vitamin B12, vitamin B2, zinc, TMG (trimethyglycine from choline) and magnesium. Conversion of homocystein to glutathion requires vitamin B6, vitamin B2 and zinc. When the body does not efficiently convert homocysteine into SAMe and glutathione, the amount of toxic homocysteine in the blood begins to rise
Health reasons one might have a high homocysteine level are kidney disease, psoriasis and thyroid disease. It has also been recognized that some people have a common genetic variant (called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, abbreviated MTHFR) that impairs their ability to process folate. This defective gene leads to elevated levels of homocysteine in some people who inherit MTHFR variants from both parents. There are blood tests available to detect MTHFR variants.
High Homocysteine Levels May Cause
- Heart Attack
- Plaque formation by damaging arterial walls
- Risk of blood clot formation
- Risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease
- Oxidation and Aging
- Weakened Immune System
- Pain and Inflammation
What is Considered a High Level for Homocysteine?
Homocysteine levels are measured in the blood by taking a blood sample. Normal levels are in the range between 5 to 15 micromoles (measurement unit of small amount of a molecule) per liter. Elevated levels are classified as follows:
- 15-30 micromoles per liter as moderate
- 30-100 micromoles per liter as intermediate
- Greater than 100 micromoles per liter as severe
Natural Ways to Lower Homocysteine Levels
Healthy Foods (organic is best)
- Turnip Greens
- Free Range Eggs
- Raw Nuts
- Black-Eyed Peas
- Organic Brown Rice
- Chick Peas
- Healthy fats and oils
Vitamins and Supplements
- Vitamin B12 Methyycobolamin
- Vitmain B2
- Vitamin B6
- Healthy Diet
- Lose Extra Weight
- Control Diabetes
- Control High Blood Pressure
- Decrease Stress
- Daily Exercise
- Eliminate coffeine
- No Smoking
- Limited Alcohol