If you don’t know what your homocysteine levels are, then you could be at risk for cardiovascular disease. Here’s a quick guide to the benefits of knowing your levels!
by Troop Atomic Mommy
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Homocysteine is a well-known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. It is produced when the body converts folate into thymidylate and homocysteine. The exact mechanism of this process remains unclear, but it appears to be related to one’s diet and genetics. The following are some things you should know about homocysteine.
- Homocysteine test levels increase with age; however, there are ways to lower them naturally through healthy eating habits (such as avoiding processed foods) and regular exercise, as well as taking supplements such as vitamin B6 or folic acid if you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol or heart disease already.
- Homocysteine testing involves measuring an amino acid that forms when the body metabolizes folic acid. Homocysteine levels are only elevated in cases of a genetic causes, i.e., when one has either a gene mutation or has extremely high levels of folate intake.
If a person is diagnosed with overt hyperhomocysteinemia, then it is important to measure their homocysteine levels because of the increased risk for cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
How homocysteine levels affect the heart is still not well understood.
As with many other risk factors, homocysteine levels are only one of many factors that contribute to heart disease. A person’s lifestyle and genes are important in determining the likelihood of developing heart disease or stroke.
For example, people who smoke cigarettes have higher rates of heart disease than nonsmokers; however, this is not because smoking leads directly to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
Rather, it’s believed that smoking causes inflammation throughout your body, including those parts responsible for transporting blood around your body—and this inflammation triggers plaque buildup in arteries throughout your body.
High levels of homocysteine can harm the body.
Homocysteine can harm your body in several ways. It’s associated with cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke. If you have high homocysteine levels, you may be at greater risk for dementia or cognitive decline as well.
The good news is that you may lower your blood homocysteine levels by eating a balanced diet and using supplements as necessary.
Experts say that the benefits of screening people for high homocysteine levels still outweigh the risks of false positives.
The benefits of screening people for high levels also include knowing your baseline levels which may help you make healthier choices, such as eating a healthy diet and quitting smoking.
Knowing your levels may help you make healthier choices, but you shouldn’t avoid eating some foods because you have high homocysteine levels. Rather, knowing your homocysteine levels will should cause you to reduce the amount of unhealthy foods you eat.
But in order to know what to do, you need to know what is considered the normal levels. The average person has about 15 to 25 mcg/dL of homocysteine in their blood, which is not harmful unless those levels exceed 250 mcg/dL. However, suppose your total amount of this compound increases over time due to genetic factors or diet (like too much red meat). In that case, it could lead to health problems like heart disease and stroke, but only if other underlying conditions are present as well!
While a homocysteine test may assist in finding possible issues related to cardiovascular disease, it does not always provide clear-cut answers and may even change over time. It’s also important to remember that some people are at risk for developing heart disease even when their LDL (“bad”) cholesterol doesn’t look dangerous on paper. Others may have no symptoms until later stages when it’s too late for treatment options like medication or surgery. So if you are concerned with your levels, then try to eat healthier, incorporate more exercise, and try to maintain healthy homocysteine levels.