Homocysteine is a chemical found in our blood. It is a product of the metabolism of protein in our bodies. Multiple epidemiological studies have shown that people with higher levels of homocysteine in their blood have a higher chance of developing heart disease. This fact has generated the hypothesis that lowering an elevated homocysteine level will reduce an individual's risk of developing heart disease. However studies are just being started to test this hypothesis and we probably won't know the answer for several years.
High homocysteine levels are often due to a genetic alteration in an enzyme in the body. High levels can also be caused by malabsorption of vitamins. The body's homocysteine levels also tends to rise with advancing age. Certain diseases can contribute to high levels. These include hypothyroidism, kidney disease, and lupus. Finally medications such as nicotinic acid (niacin), theophylline (used for asthma, emphysema and bronchitis), methotrexate , L-Dopa (used for Parkinson's disease often in combination with other medication e.g. sinemet contains L-Dopa and carbidopa) and nitrous oxide exposure will elevate the homocysteine level.
Fortunately, getting the homocysteine level down can be accomplished safely, effectively and inexpensively by vitamins. Folic acid in doses anywhere from 0.4 milligrams (400 micrograms) up to 4 to 5 milligrams a day as well as vitamins B6 and B12 are all effective. These will probably be the recommended treatment if indeed studies show that lowering the homocysteine level does reduce the risk of heart disease.
Lowering homocysteine levels with aggressive vitamin therapy (one mg of folic acid plus 10 mg of pyridoxine plus 400 micrograms of vitamin B 12) daily for the six months immediately following an angioplasty helps prevent recurrent narrowing of the artery at the site of the angioplasty, a process called restenosis. However, there have been no studies yet that demonstrate benefit from B vitamin supplementation in any other situation.
Natural sources of folic acid include fortified cereals, liver unfortunately high in cholesterol, however), fruits, green leafy vegetables, beans, peanuts, wheat germ, whole grains and yeast.
Vitamin B6 is found in fortified cereals, noncitrus fruits, beef, poultry, fish, bananas, yeast, bran, nuts and certain vegetables (including artichoke, asparagus, beans and cabbage).
Vitamin B12 is found in fortified cereals, liver, beef, poultry, fish, eggs and other dairy products. There are no plant sources of B12 so strict vegetarians have to take B12 supplements.
In general, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products with minimal amounts of total fat and saturated fat will help lower an individual's homocysteine level. Supplemental vitamins can then be prescribed to obtain further lowering if needed.
Johnnie D. Jackow Sr - Total Body Fitness
Get your professionally designed health program today