Homocysteine test determines vitamin B9 or B12 deficiency. Vitamin B9 & B12 deficiency linked to increased risk towards a heart attack and stroke.
What is Homocysteine test?
Vitamin B6, B9 or B12 deficiency can cause a rise in homocysteine; risk towards heart attack & stroke. You can normalize it by eating fruit & vegetable or vitamin supplement.
In 1969, Dr. Kilmer S. McCully reported children born with homocystinuria died at a young age due to atherosclerosis. Homocystinuria is a genetical disorder has high levels of homocysteine.
Mildly elevated homocysteine levels are common and seen in 5% to 12% of the general population. Hyperhomocysteinemia is common among alcoholics and patients with chronic kidney disease. High homocysteine associated with low levels of vitamin B6, B12, folate and renal disease.
Homocysteine test determines folate (B9) or B12 deficient. This test diagnoses a rare inherited disorder called homocystinuria. Vitamin B9 & B12 deficiency linked to increased risk towards a heart attack and stroke.
Clinical testing laboratories recommended a healthy homocysteine level is between 5 to 15 µmol/L. But, the Life Extension Foundation believes an upper limit of 15 µmol/L is too high for optimal health. Life Extension recommends a target of lower than 8 µmol/L.
- Optimal: less than 8 µmol/L
- Moderate risk: between 8 to 15 µmol/L
- High risk: more than 15 µmol/L
Danger of high homocysteine
Homocysteine is an amino acid by-product. It causes sticky platelets in blood vessels. Excess homocysteine adversely affects the endothelial function and cardiovascular health.
It also promotes inflammation, oxidative damage, and thrombosis (evil of heart disease). High homocysteine levels can damage the arterial lining. Also, it may increase the chances of blood clot called thrombus.
Thrombus increases the risk of blood vessel blockages. Thrombosis leads to pulmonary embolism, heart attack, and stroke. High levels of homocysteine increase the risk for coronary artery disease.
High homocysteine causes
High homocysteine is highest in people who eat a diet low in fresh fruits, and vegetables. Over or fast cooking destroys the vitamins food contains. Alcohol interferes with folic acid absorption, also increases folate excretion through the urine.
Elevated homocysteine levels may be due to hypothyroidism, kidney disease, psoriasis and some medications. Other contributors to elevated homocysteine are stress and too much coffee consumption. The more coffee you drink, the higher your homocysteine levels are likely to be. The liver metabolizes the stress-induced neurotransmitters epinephrine and norepinephrine. This metabolisis increases the need for folic acid.
High homocysteine is common among people with family history of
- Early heart disease,
- Hypothyroidism, lupus,
- Kidney disease.
Certain drugs tend to elevate homocysteine; they are
- Theophylline (for asthma),
- Methotrexate (for cancer or arthritis),
- L-dopa (for Parkinson’s)
How do you lower Homocysteine?
Take optimal amounts of vitamins B6, B12, B9, and Trimethylglycine (Betaine) to reduce homocysteine.
Luckily, an easy way to bring down the homocysteine level is with three main nutrients Vitamin B6, 9 & 12. Recommended dosages are B9 (folic acid) 400 to 800 mcg, B12 400 to 1,000 mcg, and B6 5 to 20 mg.
“Foliate, homocysteine, endothelial function, and cardiovascular disease. What is the link?” published in Biomed Pharmacother. 2001; 55:425-33. The study proposed to take high doses of folic acid. This supplementation may have beneficial effects on endothelial function also lower homocysteine.
Folic acid supplements and to a lesser extent vitamins B6 & 12 can lower homocysteine levels. In a large population study involving women supplementing high folic acid (as a multivitamin) had fewer heart attacks. Many studies confirm oral folate intake has associated to lower risk of heart disease. This low risk may be due to lowering of homocysteine levels. Eating greener leafy vegetables, orange juice, and beans increases your B vitamins intake.
Animal sources rich in B vitamins are
- Beef Liver,
- Wild Salmon,
- Turkey Breast,
Plant sources rich in B vitamins are
- Kidney Beans,
- Summer Squash,
Lifestyle changes to lower Homocysteine
A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools. ~ Spanish Proverb
- Those who smoked heavily had a 0.8-μmol/liter higher plasma total homocysteine than a nonsmoker. Homocysteine concentrations are 20% higher in smokers than in nonsmokers.
- High levels of alcohol consumption increase plasma total homocysteine concentration. An inverse relation between moderate alcohol consumption and total homocysteine levels has observed.
- Drinking >6 cups of coffee/day linked with a 1.1 to 1.4-μmol/liter higher plasma homocysteine. Drinking 6 cups of strong filtered coffee per day increases homocysteine concentrations. This coffee effect appeared to be due to caffeine and chlorogenic acid it contains.
- A preliminary study found a link between high homocysteine and hostility and repressed anger. The liver metabolizes stress-induced neurotransmitters epinephrine and norepinephrine via a process uses methyl groups. This process increases the need for folic acid. Reduce stress by practicing breathing exercise, meditation, Tai-chi, yoga, music, and bubble bath.
- Increase your B vitamins intake by eating greener leafy vegetables and fruits. The food rich in folate (as folic acid) are green vegetables, orange juice, and beans.
- A study of men with heart disease shown those consuming whole grains and legume at breakfast resulted in a drop in homocysteine. These men take whole grains instead of regular refined rice breakfast.
- An overweight and obese individual have raised plasma homocysteine. Also, reduced vitamin B12 and folic acid levels compared to normal weight individuals.
- High homocysteine may be due to low thyroid hormone, kidney disease, psoriasis and some medications.
Emerging research suggests elevated homocysteine level may be a risk factor for cancer.