Homocysteine is an amino acid that is made from the dietary amino acid methionine. Ideal blood levels are below 6.2. Levels above this increase risk for Alzheimer’s Disease and cardiovascular disease (atherosclerosis, heart attack, stroke, and blood vessel blockage). Homocysteine is inflammatory and increases risk by damaging blood vessel walls as it passes through veins, arteries and capillaries. This damage can lead to plaque formation, which is the basis for cardiovascular disease. Levels can be measured with a simple blood test and recommendations can be made to lower homocysteine if needed. If you are interested in knowing what your level of homocysteine is, contact me!
Homocysteine levels can become elevated from:
- Methionine rich foods, such as meat and dairy
- Smoking/tobacco use
- Inadequate amounts of nutrients needed to break it down (folate, vitamin B12, and others)
Things to do to lower homocysteine levels:
- Consume lots of fiber rich foods (vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, etc.)
- Increase phytoestrogens, such as ground flaxseed (also a great source of fiber)
- Consume foods high in nutrients necessary to break homocysteine down (a process called methylation), such as foods high in folate and vitamin B12.
It’s not all that easy for some people:
For some individuals, it takes more than these simple steps to reduce homocysteine. This is because there are genetic markers that can be altered and multiple nutritional deficiencies (more than just folate and vitamin B12) that can cause us to have a more difficult time breaking down homocysteine. For these individuals, it is best to have a functional medical test done to assess for genetic alterations and evaluate nutrient levels for all of the nutrients involved in breaking down homocysteine (the methylation process).
For more information or if you are interested in having this lab test done, contact me! I would be happy to order laboratory testing to assess your level of homocysteine and make individualized recommendations so that you can improve your heart and brain health!