What is Homocysteine?
Homocysteine is a sulfur-containing amino acid produced by the body from methionine, another amino acid. Meat, egg whites, seafood, and other healthy diet are among the foods high in methionine.
This amino acid is found in trace levels in most people’s bodies. That’s because B vitamins help your body convert it into other products efficiently. Higher levels may indicate a vitamin insufficiency
The cofactors derived from vitamins are essential for the complex metabolism of homocysteine, and deficits in vitamin B12, folic acid, and vitamin B6 can result in elevated levels. Poor nutrition, poor lifestyle – particularly smoking and excessive coffee and alcohol consumption – several prescription medicines (such as proton pump inhibitors), diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and poor thyroid function are all thought to elevate levels.
The best part of this is that the concentrations can be measured. In so many cases, elevated concentrations can be brought down through diet and vitamin supplementation. Folate, vitamins B12, B6, B2, zinc, and trimethylglycine are the most important nutrients for lowering its level.
The amino acid is transformed into less toxic and more beneficial amino acids through two biochemical pathways: remethylation and transsulfuration:
It is the addition of a methyl group from 5-MTHF, a breakdown product of dietary folate, or betaine to homocysteine to convert it back to methionine. Vitamin B12, as well as enzymes, methionine synthase (MTHFR) are required in this process.
Transsulfuration: This conversion requires the use of vitamin B6. When it cannot be transformed into other molecules, it accumulates in the body and can cause damage. B vitamins play a critical role in maintaining this stability.
Why measurement of Homocysteine Level Necessary?
Higher levels of this amino acid have been linked to heart disease, cognitive dysfunction, dementia more preferably Alzheimer’s disease. Women with high concentration have great difficulty conceiving and are more likely to have miscarriages.
Migraines have also been linked to its high concentration. People who have diabetes or osteoporosis are more likely to have high homocysteine levels.
Factors for Raised Level
Homocysteine levels are considered to be raised by a variety of factors. Poor diet, poor lifestyle, particularly smoking, and excessive coffee and alcohol consumption are among these.
Some medications, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and poor thyroid hormone levels, as well as chronic inflammatory diseases, and some gastrointestinal problems such as coeliac and Crohn’s disease, are extra risk factors.
Levels rise with age, with men having higher levels than women. Levels can also rise as a result of estrogen deficiency and some long-term medications, such as corticosteroids. A strict vegetarian, along with people who are stressed, may be at risk.
As with cholesterol, genetic predisposition and genetic make-up, as well as obesity and lack of exercise, can all contribute to elevated levels. Even people who lead an active, healthy lifestyle may be at risk if there is a personal history of high levels of this amino acid or disease.
There are an increasing number of variations in the genes that regulate the enzymes involved in methionine metabolism. Reduced activity of genes that regulate the enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) raises its average levels. This gene is found in approximately 10% of European populations in its homozygous form. However, the incidence varies greatly geologically and across ethnic groups.
Although the ‘normal’ range for healthy persons is thought to be between 5 and 15 mol/L, there is no consensus on the maximum reference ranges for plasma concentrations. However, levels as low as 6.3 mol/L are thought to be associated with an elevated risk, with each 5 mol/L increasing the risk of coronary heart disease events by about 20%.
Increase in concentration of homocysteine can be
• Moderate: 15 – 30 µmol/L
• Intermediate: 30 – 100 µmol/L
• Severe: > 100 µmol/L
Effective methods to lower homocysteine level naturally
Trimethylglycine is a plant-derived amino acid derivative found in beets and spinach. Trimethylglycine is required for methylation, which is required for the synthesis of melatonin, coenzyme Q10, and neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin.
Betaine, which is found in beets, has been shown to lower this amino acid levels. Several studies show that taking trimethylglycine supplements can significantly reduce homocysteine levels.
#2 Folic Acid
The key to reducing homocysteine is to ingest sufficient B vitamins on a routine basis. Folate is an essential B vitamin because it aids in the conversion of homocysteine to methionine. When your body does not get enough folate, it produces high levels of homocysteine.
Green vegetables, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, avocado, beef liver, and poultry are all great sources of organic folate.
#3 Vitamin B12
Another nutrient that aids in methylation is vitamin B12. It is also required for the metabolism of homocysteine.
Liver and kidneys from animals Meats from organs, Beef, Cereal fortified with vitamins, Tuna, enriched nutritional yeast, and trout are rich in Vitamin B12.
#4 Vitamin B6
Another nutrient is vitamin B6, which improves mood, deepens sleep, and supports the entire nervous system. It achieves this by playing an important role in the production of many neurotransmitters in your brains, such as serotonin, GABA, and dopamine.
Vitamin B6 is also a necessary cofactor in the metabolism of homocysteine, and a deficiency can lead to an increase in its levels. Beef liver, Tuna, Fortified cereals, Chickpeas, Poultry, Some vegetables and fruits, especially dark leafy greens, bananas, papayas, oranges, and cantaloupe are rich in B6.
Taurine is an organic compound found in a variety of foods, most notably animal products. It has numerous health advantages. It can pass the blood-brain barrier as well as generate anti-anxiety effects, as well as act as an antioxidant in the brain, protecting it from various substances such as lead and cadmium.
Meat, dairy, and fish are the main sources of taurine, and studies show that cooking food does not affect its taurine content.
Creatine is a compound produced by the body that can be found in certain foods, most notably meat, eggs, and fish.
Creatine supplements are also available commercially. Athletes, bodybuilders, wrestlers, and sprinters frequently use creatine supplements to increase muscle mass. It’s a well-researched supplement that’s safe to take regularly
Creatine supplementation can also help the brain. It has been shown to have neuroprotective properties and to produce energy quickly to support brain cell function. Creatine supplementation has been shown in studies to reduce homocysteine levels in humans.
#7 Regular Physical Activity
Although exercise raises homocysteine levels in the short term, it is linked to lower homocysteine levels in the long run.
#8 Stress Management
Although the relationship between stress and homocysteine is unclear, several studies have found that stress can raise its level. As a result, finding ways of avoiding or dealing with stress can be favorable not only for lowering its level but also for improving overall health.
According to one study, yoga may help reduce high homocysteine levels.
#9 Omega 3 Fatty Acid
They can promote myelin regeneration, stimulate the vagus nerve, aid in the recovery of brain damage, and support the endocannabinoid system. And it now appears that they can also reduce homocysteine levels. Studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce them by 36 to 48 percent.
Smoking and second-hand cigarette smoke can raise homocysteine levels. Quitting smoking may help in some improvements.
#11 Alcoholic Beverages
Alcohol consumption raises homocysteine levels. So limited use of Alcohol can help in lowering its level.
#12 Limited Use of Medications
Several prescription medications and natural substances were shown to boost homocysteine by interrupting folate uptake metabolism. Some of them include:
• Nitrous oxide
#13 Regulation of Thyroid Hormone
Thyroid hormones – thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) – have an impact on overall health and functioning. The thyroid gland is vital for the health and function of the brain. It has the potential to affect your cognition, concentration, mood, memory, and emotions
It can also affect your homocysteine levels. Many studies show that hypothyroid people have higher homocysteine levels.
Furthermore, people with hypothyroidism who do not take their thyroid medication have higher levels. However, once they begin taking thyroid medication, their levels decrease.
Can excessive coffee drinking cause an increase in homocysteine levels?
Coffee is found to be associated with its levels. The person who drinks coffee has a higher level of this amino acid than those who don’t drink coffee.
How is homocysteine level tested?
Its levels are tested by collecting a blood sample or urine sample.
Is fasting needed while testing homocysteine?
8-12 hrs Fasting with some dietary restrictions may be needed.
What is the ideal homocysteine level?
In a healthy individual, normal levels may range from 5-15mcmol/L.
What are some of the symptoms if one has a high homocysteine level
A high concentration of this amino acid shows the following symptoms like Pale skin, Weakness, Fatigue, Tingling sensations, Dizziness, etc.