Homocysteine? Here’s why keeping your levels low is important
10 Dec 2019
We all know to keep an eye on our cholesterol levels and to watch our blood sugar, but have you heard about homocysteine? As it turns out, it’s another indicator of our health and keeping our levels in check could help protect us from heart disease.
What is homocysteine
Amino acids are the building blocks for protein and homocysteine, is an important one. It is made naturally made by your body and broken down by vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folic acid. Once this occurs, you shouldn’t have too much homocysteine left in your blood. However, some people don’t ingest enough of the vitamins required to break it down. Anyone eating a plant-based diet is particularly at risk because you can’t get vitamin B12 from a non-animal food source unless it’s a fortified food like cereal. A high protein diet, struggling kidneys, prescription drugs, advanced age, obesity and genetics can also contribute to high homocysteine levels. Also, coffee drinkers take note – drinking four or more cups a day can also raise your levels.
Having high levels of homocysteine is never a good thing. It damages the interior lining of your blood vessels, increasing their risk of narrowing, something that can contribute to having a heart attack or stroke. High homocysteine levels are also linked to an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms. Also, types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, are seen more frequently in patients that have elevated levels of homocysteine. Clearly, you’ll want to keep the levels of this particular amino acid as low as possible.
Lower your levels naturally
Finding out what your homocysteine levels are is a simple affair. Your doctor can simply order a blood test. If they’re shown to be high, you’ll be glad to know that, in most cases, lowering them is a relatively easy affair. This is because, most of the time, having high levels is due to a vitamin deficiency. In this case, making a point of eating more vitamin B-group foods and folic acid might make all the difference. This means loading up your fridge with meat, eggs and green leafy vegetables. When it comes to folic acid content, kale leads the pack. If you don’t like to eat it raw, consider getting into juicing or toss it into a pan to sauté with olive oil, lemon and garlic. Its deliciousness might surprise you!
If you’re not able to change your diet then your next best bet is to use a supplement. This is also a good solution for anyone with a condition that makes it difficult to absorb enough nutrients, such as IBS. Look out for a high potency vitamin B complex. You could also consider something like Sogar Homocysteine Modulators. They contain vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folic acid and, as they’re in vegecaps, are suitable for vegans.
In short, having high homocysteine levels is never ideal. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to bring back the balance!