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: glutathione, the body’s very own antioxidant, or SAMe, a brain chemical linked to mood.
If your diet isn’t optimal these conversions can’t happen and homocysteine can build up. Some people also have an inherited genetic quirk that impairs their ability to convert homocysteine into beneficial substances.
Other factors that increase your chance of having high homocysteine include:
- Insufficient intake of certain nutrients – especially folic acid, vitamin B12 and B6
- Family history of chronic disease
- Increasing age
- Being male
- Oestrogen deficiency eg in post menopausal women
- Excessive intake of tea, coffee or alcohol
- Lack of exercise
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Being strict vegetarian or vegan
- High fat diet that’s 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.
Simple diet, supplement and lifestyle changes can significantly lower your homocysteine. Please use the link at the bottom of this page to find out how Smart Nutrition can help.