Homocysteine: The Silent Killer:
What is it - and What is it
Doing to Your Health?
Do you know what homocysteine is? If you don't, you're not alone. Most people have never heard of it, but at this very moment, it could be damaging your health.
Homocysteine or (HCY) is an amino acid that can reach toxic levels if not metabolized adequately. When toxic, it is a known risk factor for arterial disease,
, and vascular dementia.
You need adequate B-12 in your diet to keep your HCY levels in check.
Although it was first discovered in the 1930's and its instrumental role in causing heart disease was discovered in the late 1960's,
HCY has gone relatively unnoticed and under appreciated by the medical community - until recently.
HCY is an amino acid that occurs naturally in your body as it processes protein. When you ingest the essential amino acid, methionine, it must be broken down into non-essential amino acids. An essential amino acid is a building block for protein that you must have to live. A non-essential amino acid may be made from essential proteins. A very important amino acid, methionine, is used to make many important proteins.
Homocysteine is used in many of the important steps your body takes to break down methionine into non-essential proteins. At the end of the cycle, HCY is used to re-combine the "left-overs" from this process back into little methionine. This entire process takes a lot of energy. Your body gets this energy from vitamins and other nutrients.
If you don't have enough quality nutrition, especially if you are B-12 deficient - either because you are not getting B vitamins from the foods you eat or because your body is not able to adequately absorb them (which happens as we get older) - the methionine is not re-combined and homocysteine escapes into your bloodstream. If it does, the homocysteine will eventually become toxic and will damage your arteries and brain cells.
The outcome of this toxicity is two-fold:
1. Endothelial cell injury - infarctions (Stroke and/or heart attack)
2. Neuronal injury - degenerative diseases (Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia)
HCY levels are elevated by factors such as smoking, aging, hormonal changes like those that occur with menopause, genetics, certain drugs, lack of exercise, diabetes, high blood pressure, and a lack of fruits and vegetables in the diet and vitamin supplements.
You may not be able to control all risk factors for high HCY levels, but B vitamin supplementation is one sure way to control its levels.
There is rare, unanimous consent within the medical community that homocysteine levels in North America are too high - one study estimates that 56,000 lives could be saved every year if average HCY levels could be lowered by supplementing with Folic Acid, and vitamins B-12 and B-6.
Don't Take Chances with Your Health!
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Some information on this page used with permission from ‘The Secret to Feeling Your Best – Sublingual B12’ by Dr. Brazos Minshew, M.Sc., N.D., L.Ac. © 2004 by TriVita Inc.
Some information on this page used with permission from the ‘M.D. Health Alert’ © TriVita Inc.