Homocysteine is an amino acid (protein building block) made in the body and found in the blood. Ideally it should only be present in very low quantities, as high homocysteine levels have been linked with a number of chronic diseases including
- Heart attacks
- Certain cancers
- Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
In a healthy body homocysteine is quickly turned into one of two beneficial substances. It can be used to make glutathione, the body’s very own antioxidant or SAMe, a brain chemical linked to mood.
Unfortunately, if your diet isn’t optimal these conversions can’t happen and the harmful homocysteine builds up! On top of this some people have an inherited genetic quirk which means their ability to convert homocysteine into beneficial substances is impaired.
Certain other factors also increase your chance of having high homocysteine. These include:
- Insufficient intake of certain nutrients especially folic acid, Vitamin B12 and B6
- Family history of chronic disease
- Increasing age
- Being male
- Oestrogen deficiency e.g. post menopausal women
- Excessive intake of tea, coffee or alcohol
- Lack of exercise
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Being pregnant
- Being strict vegetarian or vegan
- High fat diet rich in red meat and dairy
- High salt intake
Homocysteine can be measured by a simple blood test and this is an excellent way of assessing your risk of chronic disease, especially for those in high risk groups. Homocysteine Test.
The good news is, with some simple diet, supplement and lifestyle advice for a qualified nutritional therapist, it is possible to significantly lower your homocysteine, genetic quirk or not! Book a Consultation.