Homocysteine is an amino acid that is present in the blood. It is produced when the body breaks down an amino acid called methionine, which is found in protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, and dairy products. Homocysteine is normally converted back into methionine or other useful compounds in the body.
Elevated levels of homocysteine in the blood, known as hyperhomocysteinemia, have been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke. High homocysteine levels may also be associated with an increased risk of certain other health conditions, such as osteoporosis and pregnancy complications.
Homocysteine levels can be measured with a blood test. Elevated levels can be caused by a deficiency of certain nutrients, such as vitamins B6, B12, and folate, or by certain medical conditions or medications. In some cases, high homocysteine levels can be treated with supplements or lifestyle changes, such as increasing the intake of these nutrients or quitting smoking. Speaking with a healthcare provider if you are concerned about your homocysteine levels is essential.
Homocysteine is a chemical in the blood that is produced when an amino acid (a building block of protein) called methionine is broken down in the body. We all have some homocysteine in our blood. Elevated homocysteine levels (also called hyperhomocysteinemia) may cause irritation of the blood vessels. Elevated levels of homocysteine show an increased risk for (1) hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which could eventually result in a heart attack and/or stroke, and (2) blood clots in the veins, referred to as venous thrombosis.
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Homocysteine - What It Is and Why You Should Care About It
Most people who do a blood test are interested if they have high cholesterol, if they are deficient in certain vitamins, or if their triglyceride levels are normal. Although the values of these nutrients are important, homocysteine is another vital substance that you might want to check next time you do a blood test.
But what is homocysteine? And why is it so important these days? Keep reading and find everything you need to know about it, including how to test your levels of homocysteine quickly and affordably.
What Is Homocysteine?
Homocysteine is an amino acid produced when proteins in your body are broken down. Normal levels of homocysteine don't affect your health and don't produce symptoms. However, higher levels of this substance should concern you.
Elevated levels of homocysteine can lead to blood clots and atherosclerosis. This means that blockages can develop in your circulatory system. Similarly, atherosclerosis is the process of narrowing blood vessels and arteries. This could lead to hypertension and other serious health problems.
What Are the Normal Levels of Homocysteine?
Homocysteine levels in the blood can vary from individual to individual. However, normal levels should be less than 15 micromoles per liter of blood. When homocysteine levels are higher than 15 mcmols/L, that's when problems start to appear.
Anything between 30 mcmol/L and 100 mcmol/L is considered high levels of blood homocysteine. If the levels are higher than 100 mcmol/L, this condition is known as hyperhomocysteinemia.
What Are the Symptoms of High Homocysteine?
Hyperhomocysteinemia is a condition that can be diagnosed using a blood test. This ailment doesn't show symptoms in adults, though it can show in children. Doctors agree that the symptoms of high homocysteine levels are usually caused by a vitamin B-12 deficiency.
Therefore, if you have low levels of vitamin B-12, a condition that produces symptoms, you might be asked to also do a homocysteine blood test to see if your levels of this substance are high.
Let's take a look at the symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency. These usually also signify that your homocysteine levels are high.
- Chronic weakness, even after a good night's sleep
- Irritability and mood swings
- Having tingling sensations in hands and feet
It's a good idea to take a multivitamin and multimineral supplement to prevent deficiencies when it comes to the vitamin B complex. If you experience some of these symptoms and you can't pinpoint their exact cause, you might have a vitamin B-12 deficiency and also high levels of homocysteine.
Causes and Complications of High Homocysteine
One of the main causes of high homocysteine levels is a lack of vitamin B-12 and folate in the blood. However, the human body is complex and other risk factors might contribute to high homocysteine levels.
For example, genetics and certain medications can play a vital role when it comes to the quantity of homocysteine in the blood. It's important to tell your doctor what medicines you take, so he can accurately determine if you have high homocysteine or not.
Secondly, a poorly functioning thyroid gland might also lead to high homocysteine levels. This condition is also associated with kidney disease, so if your kidneys are not healthy, your blood homocysteine might be high.
When it comes to complications, these can be varied and they are influenced by your age, health, and other factors. Generally speaking, high homocysteine levels will eventually affect your circulatory system and cause damage to your veins and arteries.
For example, atherosclerosis is one of the most dangerous complications caused by high homocysteine levels. It means that fats and toxins are building up inside your veins and arteries. Blood clots can also form inside some of your blood vessels and this could lead to stroke, a life-threatening disease.
In some cases, untreated hyperhomocysteinemia could lead to coronary artery diseases, Alzheimer's diseases, or a different type of neurodegenerative problem. Coronary artery disease could be fatal and it involves damage to the main vein that supplies your heart with blood.
All these serious complications can be avoided by checking your levels. of homocysteine and normalizing them, if necessary.
Diagnosis and Treatment Options
Luckily, you can quickly find out if you have high homocysteine levels using a simple blood test. You can order your homocysteine test online and get the results emailed back to you in just a few business days. The process is simple, confidential, and accurate.
If your doctor determines that your homocysteine levels are high, treatment usually involves increasing your vitamin B and folate levels. This could be done through diet or by taking a multivitamin supplement. In most cases, it's possible to normalize your homocysteine levels in a few months of treatment. Most patients see significant positive results in just 2 months of treatment.
If your abnormal homocysteine levels are caused by a different condition, the treatment revolves around alleviating the underlying problem. This could be related to your thyroid gland, kidneys, and so on.
Take Action Today!
Having high levels of homocysteine might seem like a minor issue at first, but this condition can worsen. Unfortunately, it can attack your circulatory system and cause damage to your heart and arteries.
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