Homocysteine used to be the Gold Standard for heart health. It has been replaced by the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. More on the new gold standard in a future blog.
Homocysteine is an amino acid. It is a great predictor of health and longevity. It can be measured easily from a blood sample. I always ask for a homocysteine level test at my annual physicals. Homocysteine is measured in micromoles/liter of homocysteine in the blood. The normal range is between four and fifteen. If you have high levels of homocysteine (over 15 micromoles/liter), you might be at risk of:
● Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
● Cerebrovascular accident (stroke)
● Thyroid-related health challenges
● Neurological conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
● Chronic Pain
● Digestive Disorders
Homocysteine is made from methionine. Methionine is found in protein-dense foods. Under healthy conditions, your body converts homocysteine into glutathione and SAMe (s-adenosyl-l-methionine). The following helps your body make SAMe from homocysteine:
● Folate (beans, spinach, avocado, broccoli, oranges)
● Vitamin B12 (shellfish, cheese, eggs, beef)
● Vitamin B2 (cheese, almonds, beef, mushrooms, spinach)
● Zinc (beef, lamb, spinach, cashews, mushrooms)
● Magnesium (spinach, nuts, dark chocolate, beans, bananas)
Note: Choline is converted to trimethylglycine – foods containing choline are liver, eggs, beef, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc.
Glutathione requires vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and zinc. Homocysteine levels increase when we are deficient in any of these vitamins and minerals.
Early stages of high homocysteine levels cause the free radical creation to be increased considerably. Homocysteine damages cholesterol in our blood. Those damaged cholesterol molecules can directly damage the walls of our arteries.