Clinical studies have shown that the concentrated presence of homocysteine in the blood can cause an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, although there is no general consensus at what level homocysteine becomes dangerous.
High Levels of Homocysteine
Increase the Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke
What is homocysteine?
Homocysteine is an amino acid. Amino acids are the small building blocks that make up proteins.
How do you lower the level of homocysteine in the blood?
Certain vitamins can help the body to reduce homocysteine. The vitamins that appear to have the most significant impact are folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12.
Should you take vitamin supplements to lower homocysteine?
There is not enough evidence to say with certainty whether supplementing these vitamins will help reduce the risk of heart disease. A balanced diet may be sufficient for the adequate supply of folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12.
What are good dietary sources of folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12?
Folic acid is found in dark green vegetables, dried beans and peas, wheat germ, citrus fruits, tomatoes, avocado, artichokes, sunflower seeds and enriched grain products. To help assure an adequate supply of folic acid, one should include five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
Vitamin B6 is present in bananas, watermelon, salmon, chicken, pork, eggs, soy beans, oats, peanuts, walnuts, brown (unrefined) rice and whole-wheat breads and cereals.
Vitamin B12 is abundant in animal products, like meat, fish, poultry, milk, cheese and eggs. Strict vegetarians, a.k.a. vegans, who do not eat any animal products, may be at risk for vitamin B-12 deficiency.
Should you have your homocysteine levels measured?
Widespread monitoring is not recommended. More studies are needed to show that reducing homocysteine through diet or vitamin supplementation can indeed provide protection against cardiovascular disease.