Homocysteine is an amino acid by-product which is manufactured as a result of the metabolism of protein rich foods such as meat and dairy products. Clinically evaluated studies carried out over the last 30 years have confirmed that high levels of homocysteine can lead to cardiovascular concerns. Most health conscious people will know their cholesterol levels and yet few will know their homocysteine level. Your homocysteine level is approximately 40 percent more accurate at predicting heart attacks than your cholesterol levels.
There are many examples of people with low cholesterol levels who have died of heart attacks and in many cases these people have had high homocysteine levels. The worst case scenario is high homocysteine and high cholesterol levels.
But that’s not all. It is estimated that nearly half the adult population has high homocysteine levels, which is a staggering volume. It does not matter if you are fat, thin, tall, short, a fitness fanatic, male or female; the risk of having high homocysteine levels remain the same though there is a slight link between obesity and high homocysteine levels.
Currently, scientists believe that high homocysteine levels may be associated with over a hundred concerns within the body, which include:
Cardiovascular and circulatory concerns: High levels of this amino acid accumulate around the arteries causing damage. Think of a scouring pad used to clean a kettle which then results in quicker deposition of calcium. The same occurs with homocysteine. It damages arteries and thus encourages deposition of cholesterol irrespective of whether your cholesterol levels are high or low. Homocysteine damages the whole circulatory system leading to many concerns such as deep vein thrombosis. The European Journal of Medicine reported that 40% of people who had strokes also had high homocysteine levels.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s: As mentioned above, homocysteine damages all structures within our bodies. It is thought that some of us have a genetic variation that prevents the body, including the brain, which prevents us from utilising folic acid. Several studies indicate that whatever the reason, high levels of homocysteine are a risk factor for the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Migraines: Migraines are associated with inflammation of the blood vessels in the brain. Since homocysteine is an inflammatory amino acid, reducing its levels might provide relief for sufferers.
Macular Degeneration: Studies reveal a strong link between homocysteine and age related macular degeneration of both types, wet and dry.
Depression: There appears to be a definite link between high homocysteine levels and depression. In one report of participants between the ages of 60 and 64, a higher homocysteine level was associated with the prevalence of depression.
Osteoporosis: Elevated homocysteine levels may increase the risk of bone fractures. In one report, the risk of hip fracture increased with increasing homocysteine levels in both sexes.
Numerous factors increase homocysteine levels in the body, which include the use of certain drugs, smoking, alcohol, excessive coffee consumption and ageing.
What is a healthy homocysteine level?
The body manufactures homocysteine from the essential amino acid methionine through all the metabolic processes. In order to prevent the build-up for potentially toxic homocysteine, the cells of our bodies use folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 to convert this amino acid into compounds that are actually beneficial to the body.
The level of homocysteine set currently by scientists is 11 micromoles per litre, which is considered healthy. You can get a test done for this through your GP.
Because homocysteine is an inflammatory amino acid and has such a massive impact on the body, I believe that it is wiser to use a supplement that delivers these crucial nutrients at therapeutic levels in order to convert homocysteine into other compounds. The supplement that I tend to recommend is Homocysteine Response by Innate Response.
Homocysteine Response is a whole food nutrient based supplement that delivers folate, not folic acid, into the bloodstream. Folic acid is required to be converted into folate before it is utilised by the body and there are several studies indicating that in many cases, ingesting folic acid by way of supplementation simply results in excessive folic acid circulating in the bloodstream. Excessive folic acid has been linked to excessive cell manufacture within the body particularly in the colon and prostate. Therefore it is wiser to use the folate form present in Homocysteine Response.
Vitamins B6 and B12 again are derived from whole foods for ease of absorption and to ensure that the body can utilise these efficiently in synergy with the folate.
Homocysteine Response also contains enzymes, herbal extracts, vegetable extracts and trace minerals all derived from whole foods and all known for their varying roles which include production of compounds that attack homocysteine, reducing inflammation associated with homocysteine, and for their ability to protect the nervous system. With a dosage of only one tablet daily, this is one of the best homocysteine formulations currently available.