How to Reduce Homocysteine Levels To Improve Your Health

Homocysteine is one of the many amino acids – the building blocks of protein – in our bodies. Our bodies produce it naturally, and it’s made from a prevalent amino acid called methionine. Elevated homocysteine levels are known to inflict damage to the endothelium – the inner arterial lining which effects many disease states including :

  • Migraine [1]
  • Brain atrophy [2]
  • Stroke [3]
  • Congestive heart failure [4]
  • Cardiovascular disease [5]
  • Alzheimer’s disease [6]
  • Osteoporosis [7-9]
  • Parkinson’s disease [10]
  • Cancer [11-12]
  • Hypothyroidism [13-14]

The healthy levels of homocysteine range between 5 and 15 ?mol/L. Higher levels than this are known as hyperhomocysteinemia and considered dangerous for health.

Despite the possibility of various illnesses, higher homocysteine levels are predominantly dangerous due to the risk of blood vessel blockages they cause. These blockages or blood clots, can travel through the bloodstream and can get stuck in different blood vessels around the body where they may cause a blockage leading to a heart attack if affecting the vessels that feed blood to the heart, or if the vessels of the brain are affected, a blood clot will lead to a stroke.

There are many reasons for increased levels of homocysteine, of which most can be reversed through simple lifestyle habits. Let’s take a look at the reasons for increased homocysteine levels:

Reasons for the Increase of Homocysteine Levels 

Many things can cause your homocysteine levels to rise, but they mostly boil down to either nutrients that are deficient in our diet, substances in excess in our body, or genetic predisposition. Let’s examine these:

1. Nutrient deficiencies that cause homocysteine levels to rise include folate deficiency, vitamin B6 deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency, as well as deficiencies in vitamin B2, betaine, and magnesium. [15]

2. Excesses of substances that cause homocysteine levels to rise include several prescription drugs, a diet high in animal products, too much coffee, or alcohol consumption, being overweight and smoking. Overall an unhealthy lifestyle will cause your homocysteine levels to rise significantly and have a negative impact on health.

3. A specific genetic mutation — the MTHFR mutation alters the way the body metabolizes essential nutrients and will lead to insufficient homocysteine breakdown. The research shows that 30% — 50% of people have this mutation, but only 10% — 20% have a more severe version. People with the mutation produce fewer enzymes than those needed for the break down of homocysteine. [16]

The symptoms that generally point to elevated homocysteine levels include pale skin, tiredness, weakness, twitching of the eyes, cold sores in mouth, depression, and tingling sensations that feel like pins and needles in the hands, arms, legs, or feet.

So how can we reduce homocysteine levels?:

Reducing Homocysteine Levels with a Proper Diet and Supplements

A proper diet with the addition of certain supplements is the best way to reduce homocysteine levels. 

The dietary habits that support homocysteine breakdown include:

  1. A diet low in animal products. [17-18]
  2. A diet low in processed foods
  3. A diet rich in folic acid
  4. A diet rich in vitamin B-6 
  5. Adequate vitamin B-12 levels

To reduce your homocysteine levels, you should eat more of the following foods:

  • Spinach (great source of so many nutrients including folic acid, vitamin K, carotenoids, manganese, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin E, calcium, and vitamin C)
  • Citrus fruits (great source of folic acid,  vitamin C, vitamin B1, and potassium.)
  • Whole grain products (abundant in the vitamins B1, B2, B3, folic acid, iron, magnesium, and selenium).
  • Bananas (potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C)
  • Beans (folic acid, iron, vitamin B6, magnesium and potassium)
  • Lentils (an excellent source of all B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc )
  • Asparagus (folic acid, vitamins A, C, E and K, and chromium)
  • Potatoes (vitamin C, folic acid, vitamin B6, and potassium)

Foods from this list must be consumed daily to ensure the proper breakdown of homocysteine.

Supplements that reduce homocysteine levels:

As for supplements that help reduce homocysteine levels, S-adenosylmethionine or SAMe supplements have been shown to promote homocysteine conversion to cysteine. SAMe is a universal methyl donor, donating a methyl group to acceptor molecules like DNA, RNA, amino acids, proteins. Following donation to prevent it from forming homocysteine again, there must be sufficient vitamin B-6, folic acid and B-12 in the diet, or taken as supplements at least once every week.

To conclude:

It is possible to lower your homocysteine to an optimal level in only eight weeks with a diet based on the foods I mentioned above and supplementation with the right supplements.

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References:

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