Homocysteine – What Can High Levels Do To You?

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There’s an amino acid many have never heard about. One that prevents aging and staves off disease … but only if it’s working properly in your body. At optimal levels homocysteine works in your favor but at elevated levels, it can lead to the development of debilitating disease. The condition is called hyperhomocysteinemia, and it might be responsible for the strange symptoms you live with everyday.

What is Homocysteine?

Homocysteine is an amino acid that converts into two vitally important compounds: SAMe (S-adenosyl methionine) and glutathione.

SAMe increases the availability of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters are essential in the  prevention of irritability, aggressive behavior, and depression. Low levels of these neurotransmitters increases risk of both suicidal and homicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Glutathione is an antioxidant that helps eradicate unstable oxygen molecules called free radicals. The antioxidant protection glutathione offers includes cancer prevention, immune system stabilization, anti-aging, cognitive repair, and mental health support.

Low glutathione levels play a major role in the development of bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, addictive behaviors, and schizophrenia.

So we need homocysteine to be able to convert into both SAMe and glutathione (GSH), and therefore maintain low levels of homocysteine (which is good-use it up.) But it cannot do this effectively without the correct nutrients, and will continue to accumulate in body tissues (which is bad).

Health Risks of Hyperhomocysteinemia

Chronic Autoimmune Dysfunction

If you’re suffering from any kind of autoimmune condition, it could be due to elevated homocysteine levels in your blood. Excessive homocysteine levels deplete your glutathione levels so severely your body no longer has the antioxidant protection it needs. Without this protection, you’re susceptible to the development of a wide variety of infections. Over time, your immune system weakens as it struggles to protect you without necessary support.

High homocysteine levels also cause chronic inflammation and pain by increasing arachidonic acid and the pro-inflammatory prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). Chronic inflammation increases your risk for obesity and the development of heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, autoimmune disease, digestive dysfunction, and mental health disorders.

Cardiovascular Disease

elderly coupleHyperhomocysteinemia greatly increases your risk of cardiovascular disease. It destroys the lining of your arterial walls, which promotes the formation of blood clots and causes the build-up of scar tissue. This is especially true if you have other heart disease risk factors such as smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, or family history.

Dementia

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, abnormally high levels of homocysteine  nearly double your risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Low glutathione levels mean chronic brain inflammation, which directly contributes to cognitive decline.

Depression

Hyperhomocysteinemia leads to depleted levels of SAMe, which causes a critical drop in dopamine and serotonin. Without these neurotransmitters, severe depression as well as other mood disorders can result. Those feelings of hopelessness, doom, and generalized disinterest in life could simply be a matter of decreasing your homocysteine levels to balance your mental health.

Causes of High Homocysteine Levels

Hyperhomocysteinemia is caused by a combination of factors. These factors include:

Animal Protein Consumption

Studies have shown that high animal protein consumption can lead to elevated homocysteine levels. Especially if the meat consumed is red, processed meat. Think cold cuts, bacon, and canned meat. Not only do these foods elevate your homocysteine levels, they also contain dangerous nitrates and nitrites that have been linked to the development of cancer.

Vitamin Deficiencies

In order for your body to convert homocysteine to useable SAMe and glutathione, you must have the proper nutrients available in your system. If you are deficient in folate, vitamin B12, vitamin B2, zinc, TMG (trimethylglycine-from choline) or magnesium, your body will be unable to convert homocysteine to mood-stabilizing SAMe. If you are deficient in vitamin B6, vitamin B2, or zinc, your body will be unable to convert homocysteine to disease-preventing glutathione.

Vitamin deficiencies are a common aftereffect of a poor diet, poor digestion, and low gut bacteria.

Coffee and Energy Drink Consumption

iStock_000000391835XSmallExcessive coffee and energy drink consumption can lead to critically-elevated levels of homocysteine. Scientific studies have concluded that the caffeine content depletes your body of vital B vitamins, leading to lowered SAMe and glutathione concentrations. If, instead of coffee, you use energy drinks, I strongly recommend stopping. Energy drinks are very dangerous to your health. A single serving contains more caffeine than 4 cups of coffee as well as a long list of synthetic chemicals and additives that lead to the development of chronic disease.

Stress

High levels of stress can also increase your homocysteine levels and lead to further oxidative damage.

Genetics

A small percentage of patients have a genetic predisposition for elevated homocysteine levels due to a MTHFR mutation. It is still possible to lower the homocysteine levels, however.

Diagnose Hyperhomocysteinemia with an Easy Blood Test

The only way to be certain if your strange symptoms are related to high homocysteine levels is to get a blood test. Direct Labs offers a homocysteine test that measures your levels. You’ll save money by purchasing the test yourself wholesale and visiting the nearest LabCorp office for a draw.

You’ll receive your results in 5-7 business days.

In my opinion, an ideal target range is 6.5 micromols/liter. Most labs will report up to 12 micromols/liter as being normal. A level above 12 needs prompt attention!

Take Action – Lower Your Homocysteine Levels Now

To lower your homocysteine levels naturally, I recommend a combination of simple dietary changes and nutritional supplements

vital choice fish link info

Eat a Whole-Food, Minimally-Processed Diet

I give the same advice to all my patients dealing with a chronic disease: Taper off a junk food diet and start eating more holistic, minimally-processed foods.

This means loading up on plenty of organic vegetables, fruit, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, poultry, wild-caught fish, and healthy fats like butter, coconut oil, avocado, and walnuts. If you plan to eat red meat, be sure the beef you select is grass-fed and 100% organic.

Take the Right Nutritional Supplements

Even if you eat a healthy diet, you may still have nutritional gaps. Stress, low stomach acid, and low probiotic count can have a negative impact on your digestion. If you aren’t absorbing nutrients as you should, your homocysteine levels could still continue to rise to dangerous levels. This is why I recommend a quality multivitamin to supplement your diet and give you the nutrition you need.

Diamond Nutritional’s Foundation Vitamins

Diamond Nutritionals’ Foundation Vitamins are unlike the store-bought, mass produced, vitamins you’ve been taking. This multivitamin is 100 % bioavailable to your body for maximum absorption. This healing formula contains the exact nutrients your body needs to keep your homocysteine levels in balance (highlighted below.)

These ingredients include:

Foundation Vitamins (NO iron)

Vitamin A – 7,500 IU

Vitamin C – 500 mg

Vitamin D3 – 500 IU

Vitamin E – 100 IU

Vitamin K – 50 mcg

Thiamine (B2)– 25 mg

Riboflavin – 25 mg

Niacin – 25 mg

Vitamin B6 – 38 mg

Folate – 400 mcg

Vitamin B12 – 500 mcg

Biotin – 200 mcg

Panthothenic Acid – 150 mg

Calcium – 100 mg

Iodine – 113 mcg

Magnesium – 200 mg

Zinc – 10 mg

Selenium – 100 mcg

Copper – 1 mg

Manganese – 2.5 mg

Chromium – 200 mcg

Molybdenum – 25 mcg

Potassium – 50 mg

Choline Bitartrate USP – 50 mg

Inositol – 50 mg

Mixed Tocopherols – 50 mg

Lipoic Acid – 25 mg

N-Acetyl-Cysteine USP – 25 mg

Rutin – 25 mg

Lutein – 3 mg

Boron – 1.5 mg

Lycopene – 1 mg

Vanadyl Sulfate Hydrate – 1 mg

Chelated MagnesiumChelated Magnesium

Low magnesium levels often contribute to high homocysteine levels. Magnesium deficiency is the most common mineral deficiency in the world. That’s why I recommend my patients add Diamond Nutritionals’ Chelated Magnesium. My formula contains the smallest minerals available so your body can easily absorb and make use of them. Regulating your magnesium levels helps your body better cope with stress and eases short-term insomnia.

Millions of people just like you struggle with chronic disease and worry about the effects of premature aging. With proper nutrition, dietary supplements, stress management, exercise, and lifestyle changes, you can lower your homocysteine levels and make them work for you instead of against you. 

6 COMMENTS

  1. Dear Doc,I was diagnosed with DVT of left lower limb. Blood tests showed high homocysteine level (47 micro mol).
    Gene mutation tests Factor V, MTHR Lupus anticoag are negative.
    What could be the reasons?
    I have been a healthy person and exercise regularly. However work stress is high. Also I was under olanzapine for nearly four months during which I had become overweight and was confined to bed most of the time two years ago.
    Could you please consider this and advise on what could be the reason and how to overcome the same and bring down my homocysteine levels.I am already taking folic acid,pyridoxine and Vitamin B supplements along with warfarin.

    • Hello Viswanath,

      Thank you for contacting me.
      You are taking some very good supplements to lower your homocysteine levels.
      Here is an article you may find helpful:

      http://www.exhibithealth.com/general-health/lowering-homocysteine-levels-naturally-610/

      As you know, there are many foods mentioned here which you are not able to eat while being on warfarin.

      In addition to what you are already doing, I often use the following natural formula to
      lower inflammation/homocysteine:

      https://www.askdrmaxwell.com/shop/inflamments-formula/

      I have patients take two three times a day. The turmeric can prolong the PT in patients
      taking warfarin, but I have not had this occur with my patients.

      Based on what you have shared with me, I have some more advice for you which I feel will help you.
      I would like to speak with you by phone.
      Please give me a call at 513-741-4404 to schedule a telephone consultation.

      I look forward to working with you.

      Dr. Craig A. Maxwell

  2. Why would you recommend a supplement with folic acid to people who may have the mthfr mutation.?Those individuals cannot take folic acid and require the natural version of folate.

    • Hello Ms. Tolnay,
      Thank you for contacting me. You are correct. The form of folate is very important.
      For my patients, I always recommend a product that also has the proper balance of vitamins and minerals as well.
      Diamond Nutritionals’ Foundation Vitamins have been used by many for years with good success. I believe you will find them quite helpful!
      Warmest regards,
      Dr. Maxwell

  3. I had a High homocysteine level of 30umol. I used to take high doses of b12,folic acid and b6. But it didnt help me to lower my homocysteine levels and related symptoms.
    The reason was a long term untreated periodontal disease.
    Nobody seems to talk about it. Even the doctors who treated me for infertility had no clue that gum disease can cause elevated homocysteine levels.
    I had to actually do my own research and inform the doctors.
    My levels have now gone down after dental treatment.

    • Hi Vijay,
      Thank you for adding your experience. This is often a hidden cause of elevated homocysteine levels which needs to be
      treated.
      I wish you the best of health!
      Dr. Maxwell

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