Homocysteine (Hcy) is an amino acid in the blood.

While most amino acids found in the body are building blocks of protein or muscle, homocysteine is formed as an intermediate step in the production of another amino acid, methionine. The production of methionine requires a number of vitamins. When these vitamins are in short supply, the level of Hcy in the blood rises.

And this is a very bad thing for your health.

The Dangers of Homocysteine

In fact, having high levels of this amino acid increases inflammation and the risk for developing plaque in the arteries—a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke. In the brain, Hcy contributes to depression and cognitive decline.

Research from The Hordaland Homocysteine Study (HHS) suggests having high levels of this amino acid poses yet another health risk – thinning bones in women.  In this study, more than 18,000 people were followed for seven years. Those with raised homocysteine levels not only had an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, depression, and cognitive decline, but also osteoporosis.

Reduce Homocysteine with a Healthy Diet

Research shows that folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 can help reduce levels of this heart-harming compound. Talk with your doctor about getting your levels of homocysteine checked.

Boushey CJ, et al. A quantitative assessment of plasma homocysteine as a risk factor for vascular disease: probable benefits of increasing folic acid intakes. JAMA. 1995;274:1049-1057.Mayer EL, Jacobsen DW, and Robinson K. Homocysteine and coronary atherosclerosis. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 1996;27:517-527.The Homocysteine Studies Collaboration. Homocysteine and risk of ischemic heart disease and stroke: a meta-analysis. JAMA. 2002;288:2015-2022. Wald DS, Law M, Morris JK. Homocysteine and cardiovascular disease: evidence on causality from a meta-analysis. BMJ. 2002;325:1202-1206. Wilson PWF. Homocysteine and Coronary Heart Disease: How Great is the Hazard? JAMA. 2002;288:2042-2043. Refsum H, Nurk E, Smith AD, Ueland PM, Gjesdal CG, Bjelland I, Tverdal A, TellGS, Nygard O, Vollset SE.The Hordaland Homocysteine Study: a community-based study of homocysteine, its determinants, and associations with disease. J Nutr. 2006 Jun;136(6 Suppl):1731S-1740S.

About The Author

Kelley Herring, founder of Healing Gourmet, is a natural nutrition enthusiast with a background in biochemistry. Her passion is educating on how foods promote health and protect against disease and creating simple and delicious recipes for vibrant health and enjoyment.

Kelley Herring – who has written posts on Healing Gourmet.

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