Homocysteine and Your Brain and Heart

Homocysteine and Your Brain and Heart

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Homocysteine is an amino acid (protein) that is made in our body. To some degree, it is a by-product of cellular function that can be harmful if it’s too high and not recycled or eliminated out of the body.

While most practitioners and doctors don’t routinely measure this on blood tests, we do. This is because it has been implicated in a myriad of chronic health issues such as:

  1. Alzheimer’s Dementia
  2. Peripheral Neuropathy
  3. Migraine Headaches
  4. Heart Disease – hardening of the arteries
  5. Increased Risk of Stroke
  6. Behavior Problems including ADD/ADHD and autism
  7. Depression, Anxiety and Bipolar Disorder

That’s quite the list and a great reason to get tested periodically.

In the 1960’s, a pathologist determined that children who had been observed as having advanced hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) also had high levels of the amino acid homocysteine in their urine.

Since that time, science has determined that not only is homocysteine a major factor underlying hardening of the arteries, but also implicated in the disease processes listed above.

Elevations of homocysteine within the blood beyond the levels of 7-9  micromoles/liter (mmol/l). Lab high for most labs is anything over 10-15 mmol/liter depending on the lab. Our target is to get the blood levels down if possible to 7 or below.

What can cause homocysteine to get too high?

There are a few reasons for why homocysteine may get high.

  1. Key B vitamin deficiency, especially B12 (methylcobalamine) and B9 (methyl folate)
  2. Certain medications that can cause B12 and B9 deficiency, such as Metformin, a commonly prescribed diabetes medication
  3. Kidney disease – if the kidneys aren’t functioning well, they may not be able to adequately eliminate homocysteine, causing it to therefore stay in circulation and build up to high levels within the blood vessels.
  4. A genetic mutation that prevents proper usage of B vitamins to process homocysteine effectively to keep the levels within normal range…this gene is the MTHFR gene and can be tested by most labs. If this is present, the solution is providing an abundance of good quality B12 and B9

How do I naturally lower homocysteine?

  1. Ideally, dietary changes are made to help get and keep homocysteine levels down. Eating Dr. Steph’s Plate Rule, with mostly vegetables at all main meals and lower amounts of healthy sources of meat protein (3-6 oz per meal max) is the place to start.

Hear Dr. Tom explain Dr. Steph’s Plate Rule in this short video

  1. Supplementation may be required and is often something we find we need to do with most patients. The most comprehensive supplement we have to get the best forms of B vitamins is our ACTIVE B supplement. If, through testing, a specific push of either B9 or B12 is needed, then those can be added separately in various combinations. Everyone needs their own formula for success!
  2. Drinking adequate amounts of water to stay hydrated and keep the system flushing toxins daily is key. Remember to drink ½ your body weight of water in ounces each day!

To learn more about the importance of staying hydrated read: Why Drink Water Part III