Homocysteine is an amino acid and breakdown product of protein metabolism that, when present in high concentrations, has been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Elevated homocysteine levels are thought to contribute to plaque formation by damaging arterial walls. High levels may also act on blood platelets and increase the risks of clot formation; however, whether high levels of homocysteine actually cause cardiovascular disease has yet to be agreed upon. In addition, some evidence suggests that people with elevated homocysteine levels have twice the normal risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Blood levels of homocysteine tend to be highest in people who eat a lot of animal protein and consume few fruits and leafy vegetables, which provide the folic acid and other B vitamins that help the body rid itself of homocysteine.
• Avoid or reduce chronic stress which can deplete B vitamins over time • Get adequate amounts of sleep • Lose weight if necessary • Exercise daily to get the heart benefits of exercise • Avoid alcohol which can deplete needed B vitamins; quit smoking • Pinpoint B vitamin deficiencies using the Comprehensive Metabolic Profile • Consider monitoring and assisting with insulin levels, abnormal blood glucose, blood pressure, LFTs (liver function tests), GGT (glutathione), estrogen metabolite ratio testing, FIGLU (formiminoglutamic acid), MMA (methylmalonic acid) and methylation SNP testing
Dietary Tips and Caveats:
• Establish a heart healthy eating plan • Eat foods that are high in B vitamins such as broccoli, romaine lettuce, yams, asparagus, green peas, most fruit (particularly avocados, bananas, watermelon and oranges), meat, chicken, fish and shellfish, and lentils • Avoid refined sugars and white flour products which can deplete B vitamins • Reduce sources of caffeine and high sugar drinks such as soda and fruit juices; also reduce alcohol and strive to drink adequate amounts of purified water • Consume adequate amounts of antioxidants which can be obtained daily through 5-9 servings of vegetables/fruit.