What is Homocysteine?
Homocysteine is an amino acid that inflicts damage to the inner arterial lining (endothelium) and other cells of the body. “Homocysteine reflects the health of your genes,” say renowned nutritionist Patrick Holford and Dr. James Braly in their 2003 publication “The H Factor.” “Your H score is more important than your weight, your blood pressure or your cholesterol level. It is your most vital, preventable and reversible health statistic.” And, “Your Homocysteine level is a more accurate predictor than cholesterol that poses our risk of heart attack or stroke.”
So why aren’t doctors looking at homocysteine level?
They can. And YOU can ask your GP to do the blood test – a fasting plasma homocysteine. The Labs will give “normal levels” as 6.5 – 15mmol/L or even higher but experts recommends a level below 6 – 7. Conventional blood test results carry the statement – “Elevated Homocysteine levels are associated with increased independent risk of cardiovascular disease. A 5 mmol/L rise in Homocysteine correlates to a 0.5mmol/L increase in cholesterol. Elevations are also found in anemia, genetic homocystinuria, renal disease, deficiencies of B group vitamins B12, Folate, Pyridoxine (i.e. B6) and some drug therapies.” Royal Perth Hospital began a study about 4-5 years ago on the effectiveness of using B12, B6 and folic acid to lower homocysteine levels. This was replicating previous similar studies already undertaken in other parts of the world.
What do I do about it?
There are more essential nutrients that are needed for these same chemical pathways to occur, such as B2, zinc, magnesium and choline (or TMG). Homocysteine is a naturally occurring by-product of methionine metabolism in the body. Methionine is an amino acid that is part of food proteins and is found primarily in meats, eggs, dairy products, fish, chicken, seeds, nuts and some vegetables.
Homocysteine pathways normally pave the way to body production of other essentials including glutathione, a powerful detoxifier in the body, the brain chemicals serotonin (the happy hormone), melatonin (sleep and mood improving hormone), dopamine (euphoria hormone) and adrenaline (the fight and flight hormone).
The reason Homocysteine accumulates in the body causing cell damage and the onset of major disease, is because the biochemical transformation process is not working properly. It usually results from lack of these needed vitamins and minerals for the given Homocysteine pathways.
Protein foods like meats in the diet breakdown to methionine then to homocysteine. Normally, it then goes on to fulfil various important pathways to provide essential hormones etc. If we are short on the needed vitamins and minerals for these pathways, we end up with dangerous excess homocysteine levels and ill health.
The MTHFR C677T gene polymorphism is the single most important genetic determinant of blood homocysteine values in the general population. The good news is that genetic profiling is now available . It can test not only this specific gene polymorphism that compromises your homocysteine metabolism but also determine all the other biological weaknesses that may be unknowingly affecting your health long term.
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