Homocysteine levels and why it matters
Your homocysteine level is a marker for health and CVD. Knowing your homocysteine level can be an indicator of risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), depression, breast and colon cancer. Women with high homocysteine levels find it harder to conceive and carry a pregnancy to term. Studies have also shown that reducing levels of homocysteine markedly slows the rate of brain atrophy and cognitive decline. According to a study in the British Medical Journal, homocysteine levels are a better predictor of cardiovascular disease than cholesterol.
What is homocysteine?
Homocysteine is a naturally occurring amino acid produced as part of the body’s methylation process. As part of normal metabolic processes, homocysteine is recycled by our body to build more proteins. In order to do so efficiently, we need specific nutrient mainly vitamin B12, B6 and folate. If we are deficient in any of these nutrients, the re-cycling can become inefficient and excess homocysteine accumulates in the blood. Excess homocysteine should be excreted in urine. This system breaks down if we don’t have the right nutrients or/and if we have specific genetic snips. The MTHFR snip (which stands for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase enzyme!) can make for an inefficient enzymatic process. This can result in higher levels of homocysteine.
Your genetic make-up can cause you to require much more of a particular nutrient for you to be healthy. Therefore this could put you at a much higher risk of high homocysteine levels unless you compensate for it.
How can you reduce your homocysteine levels?
Simple! Making adjustments to your diet to increase ‘B’ vitamins such as B12, B6 and folic acid, can reduce levels. By improving the metabolic pathways involved in methylation and homocysteine detoxification you can significantly reduce your health risks.
Knowing your homocysteine level can help flag-up future health issues especially if you have a poor diet and don’t make the best lifestyle choices!
How can you find out what your homocysteine levels are?
Whilst you can do an at home test for homocysteine levels, I would suggest you have a consultation prior to rushing ahead to confirm if it is right for you!
You can do a finger prick test via Lorisian or a more informative test via Regenerus Laboratories: