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High Homocysteine Levels can be Lowered

Author:   Peter Sedesse MD

Causes of High Homocysteine Levels

The amino acid Homocysteine is normally found in the blood and is formed from the metabolism of Methionine. Methionine is digested as part of a normal diet. The body does not directly use Homocysteine instead it is altered into a useful amino acid by vitamins. A genetic disorder is the major cause of young children and babies having high levels of Homocysteine. A diet with low amounts of certain vitamins is the main reason for adults having increased levels of Homocysteine.

Risks Associated with High Homocysteine Levels

Organ damage is the major concern when Homocysteine levels are high. Platelets “stickiness” is increased by high levels of Homocysteine. Clots known as thrombi are formed by the platelets when there are abnormally high concentrations of Homocysteine present in blood. The clots circulate through the blood and can result in blockages at a number of organs such as the brain, heart, lungs and kidneys. A stroke could result from a blood clot in the brain, while a myocardial infarction or heart attack could be caused by a clot in the heart. Serious, long term issues can also result from a blood clot developing in the kidneys.

Food sources rich in beta carotene and other caratenoids, fruits and vegetables

Diet is the only effective way to control levels of Homocysteine. Homocysteine levels can be lowered in two ways. The first is to decrease the the amount of Methionine consumed. At the same time, making sure there are vitamins available in the body to process Homocysteine into a new chemical can also help lower Homocysteine concentrations in the blood. Limiting the consumption of red meats, certain cheeses, Fish and other seafood can decrease intake of the Homocysteine precursor Methionine. You can ensure that the body gets other needed amino acids by eating beans, chicken and nuts while lowering methionine intake. This type of diet will be temporary for adults experiencing high Homocysteine levels in the blood as a result of poor eating habits.

Maintaining Low Homocysteine Levels

Once Homocysteine levels have been decreased, the individual can gradually re-introduce red meat to the diet while monitoring Homocysteine levels. The restrictive diet will be permanent for babies or children that have high levels of Homocysteine as a result of a genetic disorder as the cause of the high Homocysteine levels will always be present.

Vitamins that Reduce Homocysteine Levels

Homocysteine is processed into other amino acids by using mainly vitamins B12, B6 and Folic Acid (B9). Beans, cereal, fruits and vegetables contain good amounts of Folic Acid. Several of the same foods contain B6 and B12; both vitamins along with Folic Acid are included in most multivitamins making them readily available. A multivitamin should be taken each day by those with high Homocysteine levels as a result of the genetic disorder.

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