If you’re looking to maintain optimal health, then you’ve probably read about the importance of acquiring certain amino acids through diet or supplementation.
And while it’s definitely a good idea to ensure elevated levels of certain amino acids, you’ve got to be extra careful about having too high levels of others.
In the next few minutes, you’re going to learn about one of these potentially dangerous amino acids.
Some of you might have heard of it before, but it’s unlikely many of you have a clue what it is.
Worse yet, in some cases high levels of this specific amino acid might even contribute to some of the deadliest diseases imaginable.
Of course, I’m not here to frighten you.
It’s actually quite easy to keep levels of this amino acid within a healthy range, even if you suffer from a condition that leads directly to high levels.
And that’s what I’m writing to you about today.
What Is Homocysteine And How Can It Harm Your Health?
Homocysteine might not be something you’ve ever heard of before.
And truthfully, that’s not OK – especially if you’re worried about keeping your heart, eyes, brain, memory, immune system and bones healthy.
Homocysteine is an amino acid formed from the breakdown of another amino acid called methionine after it’s metabolized in the body.
Not everyone has to worry about high levels of homocysteine, though.
Typically it’s only people who engage in risky health behaviors (such as excessive drinking, smoking, persistent drug use – prescription or illegal – and maintaining an unhealthy body) who have to deal with homocysteine levels.
However, as we age and our body’s ability to properly regulate biological functions becomes impaired, homocysteine levels can be affected.
Elevated homocysteine levels can also be quite pronounced in people who don’t methylate correctly.
This is probably the most serious reason for people to be worried.
Just a quick recap on methylation (see my entire article on methylation here):
Every person’s body is supposed to perform a critical function known as methylation in order to maintain good health. This process transforms certain nutrients (including many vitamins) into an “end-stage form” so they can be used to complete other biological functions.
It just so happens that one of the vitamins your body is supposed to transform is also a vitamin responsible for keeping homocysteine levels in check.
Known as 5-methyltetrahydrofolate or 5-MTHF, this “end-stage” form of folic acid works alongside vitamins B6 and B12 to turn homocysteine into other biologically useful compounds.
If you don’t methylate correctly, your body can’t take homocysteine and break it down further – and that’s where severe health problems can develop.
For roughly half of you, this is a non-issue.
But it’s believed 40-60% of Americans don’t methylate correctly, and millions more have progressed to an age where homocysteine levels might be creeping up. Therefore, it’s important to know how you can keep homocysteine levels in check.
Discover the Damage High Levels Of Homocysteine Can Cause
More studies regarding elevated levels of homocysteine levels are forthcoming.
However, the few collected so far seem to indicate high levels of this amino acid can be pretty damaging.
Here are just a few ways high levels of homocysteine can be harmful to your body:
1 – High Levels May Promote Poor Heart Health:
High levels of homocysteine are not a singular cause for heart concern, but they do present themselves as known risk factors.
“Elevated homocysteine promotes [poor cardiovascular health] through increased oxidant stress, [weakened] endothelial function, and [increased clots]. Prospective studies have shown that elevated plasma homocysteine concentrations increase risk of [poor] cardiovascular [health] by twofold and risk of [poor] cerebrovascular [health] to a lesser degree.”
2 – They Might Cause Poor Brain Health:
We know that up to 50% of all Americans might not have the full ability to process folic acid in the proper way, both in the brain and in the body.
This malfunction will make it so the body can’t convert folic into 5-MTHF, which we know causes homocysteine levels to rise.
Studies about how this might affect brain health seem to indicate higher levels of homocysteine could cause damage to the brain.
“A 2002 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that people with high blood levels of homocysteine had a greater risk of developing [memory problems later on]. [Memory loss] developed in 111 study participants, of whom 83 [developed even higher degrees of memory loss] over an eight-year follow up. In those with a plasma homocysteine level greater than 14 µmol/L, the risk of [elevated memory loss] nearly doubled.
Investigators concluded, ‘An increased plasma homocysteine level is a strong, independent risk factor for the development of [memory loss].'”
3 – They Might Cause Chronic Inflammation:
Studies have shown high levels of homocysteine can also produce inflammation in the body.
When levels are elevated for even a short period of time, this results in high levels of arachidonic acid and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). Both of these chemicals are used in the inflammatory process.
Though not worrisome in the short term, chronic inflammation (which is caused by these two chemicals) can create lasting structural damage to various tissues such as your arteries, joints, and nerves.
4 – They Could Make You Sick:
I encourage you to read this article by Life Extension, do your own research and make your own decisions about whether or not high levels of homocysteine could be making you sick.
How To Naturally Reduce Dangerous Levels Of Homocysteine
If you know me, you know the most obvious answer to this problem is to get the right kinds of foods in your diet.
While the main vitamin I’ve focused on for reducing high homocysteine levels as been folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12 also play an important role in managing homocysteine levels.
That being true, I recommend eating the following foods for homocysteine management:
Folic Acid sources:
Vitamin B6 sources
Vitamin B12 sources:
By building a diet around these nutrients, you can assist your body in regulating high levels of homocysteine.
Now many people might find it difficult to eat these kinds of foods on a consistent basis, and so they supplement hoping that’ll solve the problem.
However, most forms of folic acid you find in supplements are inferior from a bioavailability standpoint (even for people who methylate properly).
In fact, tests have shown that taking bioavailable forms of folic acid like 5-MTHF can yield 700% higher plasma folate concentration compared to folic acid alone.
Another problem for balancing homocysteine levels is based in food preparation techniques.
Oftentimes the way we prepare our food will compromise the mechanisms for folic acid and B6 and B12 uptake. Cooking, blanching, grilling, etc. all compromise these fragile minerals.
This means you’ve really got to focus on eating well all the time, and eating to maximize nutrient absorption (which varies by nutrient type).
And lastly, if you’re one of the 40-60% of Americans who don’t methylate properly, then it doesn’t matter what percentage of these vitamins you get…you won’t be able to assimilate them properly.
This is why it’s so helpful for people who aren’t methylating properly to get a supplement that provides them with the nutrients they need, and in the form their body will use.
This is why I recommend for anyone concerned about high homocysteine levels (and who’s sure they have a methylation problem) to get a complex that has end-stage forms of the vitamins their body needs.
For the purposes of reducing high homocysteine levels, the go-to supplement I recommend is methylfolate.
Through taking this (and a methylated B-12), you can keep those homocysteine levels in the appropriate range and experience Health As It Ought To Be.
Get yours here or by clicking on the picture below.