Homocysteine: Is an amino acid which is also a building block of protein. It is made in your body just like cholesterol.
Is a word not commonly heard, unlike cholesterol which makes most people turn their heads whenever it is mentioned.
What Is Homocysteine?
Homocysteine is an amino acid (a building block of protein) that is produced in your body.
Is A High Homocysteine Level Harmful?
High homocysteine levels in the blood can cause cholesterol to change to something called oxidized low-density lipoprotein. This reaction can damage the arteries. Also, high homocysteine levels may make your blood clot more easily than it should. When this happen it can increase the risk of blood vessel blockages. A blockage anywhere in your arteries might triggle a stroke. It might also cause problem with blood flow, and worsen the condition of people suffering from as atherosclerosis. (cardiovascular disease or heart disease)
To help you understand better please view this important video on Homocystine.
The Homocysteine Factor
How Is The Homocysteine Level Measured?
Homocysteine is measured using a simple blood test any time of day. No special preparation is required for the blood test.
A healthy homocysteine level is less than 12 µmol per L.
A level greater than 12 µmol per L is considered high.
If your homocysteine level is greater than 12 µmol per L and you have blockages in any blood vessel. That means, you need to lower your homocysteine.
If you have no other major risk factors for cardiovascular disease (heart or artery disease) and you do not have atherosclerosis,(plaque build up in your arteries) it may be all right for you to have a modestly high homocysteine level of about (12 to 15 µmol per L).
Although, no studies have shown that lowering homocysteine levels can help reduce strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular disease. As a precaution, it is a good idea to lower high homocysteine level because it is a risk factor for heart disease.
How Can I Lower A High Homocysteine Level?
Eating more fruits and vegetables (especially the leafy green vegetables) can help lower your homocysteine level. Another way is by increasing your intake of folate in your diet. Good sources of folate include many breakfast cereals, lentils, asparagus, spinach and most beans.
What are the reasons why have High Homocysteine Level?
Homocysteine is normally changed into other amino acids and utilized by the body. If your homocysteine level is too high, you may not have enough B vitamins for this process to take place. Or you may not have enough of the enzymes in your body to process homocysteine.
Most people with a high homocysteine level don't get enough folate (folic acid), vitamin B6 or vitamin B12 in their diet. Replanishing these vitamins can help return the homocysteine level to normal. Other possible causes of a high homocysteine level include low levels of thyroid hormone, kidney disease, psoriasis, or reactions with other medications.
However, your doctor may suggest that you take a vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12 supplement.
If you don't have enough vitamin B-6 in your diet, foods like fortified breakfast cereals, potatoes, bananas, garbanzo beans (also called chickpease) and chicken are good sources. Dairy products, organ meats (such as liver), beef and some types of fish are good sources of vitamin B-12 .
If you start taking folate or vitamin B supplements, you should have your homocysteine level rechecked after 8 weeks. If your homocysteine level remains high, your doctor may have you try a higher dose of the supplements. You may need to have some tests to see if you have a health condition that causes high homocysteine levels. If you have had a high homocysteine level, you will probably need to have your level checked regularly (2 or 3 times a year).