Homocysteine is an amino acid. It is a great predictor of health and longevity. 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 It has been replaced by the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.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 moment.
Homocysteine 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 nutrients.
Early stages of high homocysteine levels cause free radical creation to be increased. Homocysteine damages cholesterol in our blood. Those damaged cholesterol molecules can damage the walls of our arteries.
Avoid heart problems by having your homocysteine levels checked annually. Eat healthy foods to maintain homocysteine levels.
Ideally, the ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids should be 1:1. When your diet exceeds a 4:1 ratio, omega-6 fatty acids become inflammatory. The Western diet has a ratio between 10:1 and 50:1. Omega-6 fatty acids are essential for life. Our bodies don’t make it. We must get it from the foods we eat.
We eat many more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. These extra omega-6 fatty acids are found in seed and vegetable oils. Soybean oil consumption is the highest in the U.S. because it is cheap and found in many processed foods.
Butter, coconut oil, lard, palm oil, and olive oil are low in omega-6 fatty acids. Sunflower, corn, soybean, and cottonseed oils contain the highest levels of omega-6 fatty acids.
Grass-fed animal foods are the best sources for omega-3 fatty acids. Animals fed grain-based feeds (soy and corn) have higher omega-6 fatty acids and lower omega-3 fatty acids compared to grass-fed animals.
The cost of homocysteine and the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is similar – generally a bit over $100.
It is possible to find the homocysteine test cheaper. Your physician will not order these tests as part of a normal physical. I ask my doctor to add the homocysteine as an extra test (along with a couple of others – vitamin D3 and c-reactive protein) to my annual physicals. My insurance has always paid for it.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! Red O’Laughlin