Ray Sahelian, M.D.
Homocysteine is a
derivative of the amino acid
methionine. It received a great
deal of media attention in 1997 following publication of articles in
indicating that a high blood level of homocysteine is a potential risk
atherosclerosis and heart disease. Kilmer McCully, M.D., a pathologist
at the Veterans
Affairs Medical Center in Providence, Rhode Island, had been claiming
for at least two
decades that homocysteine is as important a risk factor for heart
disease as cholesterol,
but few in the medical profession paid serious attention to his claim.
Dr. McCully was
vindicated with the publication of additional scientific articles in
the 1990s, most of
which confirmed the dangers of elevated homocysteine levels.
levels can be easily lowered by taking supplements of B vitamins,
particularly folic acid,
B6, and B12 (methylcobalamin).
High Homocysteine Levels: Danger to the Brain?
addition to contributing to cardiovascular
conditions, homocysteine may also
be detrimental to the brain since it can act as a toxin to brain cells.
Dr. L. Parnetti
and colleagues, from Perugia University in Italy published in article
discussing the role
of homocysteine in cognitive decline. They say, "Homocysteine may
metabolic link in the cause of atherosclerotic vascular diseases and
Excessive homocysteine is an independent risk factor for coronary
peripheral vascular disease, and cerebrovascular disease. Homocysteine
is a reliable
marker of vitamin B12 deficiency, a common condition in the elderly,
which is known to
induce neurological deficits including cognitive impairment. A high
prevalence of folate
deficiency has been reported in geriatric patients suffering from
depression and dementia.
Both these vitamins occupy a key position in the remethylation and
S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e), a major methyl donor in the central
Therefore, deficiencies in either of these vitamins leads to a decrease
in SAM-e and an
increase in homocysteine, which can be critical in the aging brain."
How to reduce high Homocysteine levels
Nutritionists at Tufts
University in Boston have also found a connection
between B vitamins, homocysteine, and memory. They investigated the
blood concentrations of homocysteine and vitamins B-12, B-6 and folate,
and scores from a
battery of cognitive tests for seventy male subjects, aged 54-81 years.
concentrations of vitamin B-12 and folate and higher concentrations of
associated with poorer memory. Furthermore, people with low levels of
vitamin B12 or folic
acid may have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease
Adequate intake of folic acid, B6, and B12
assure that homocysteine
levels are kept under control. Considering the possibility that there
may be individuals, especially
the elderly, who are deficient in B6, folic acid, and B12, an
inexpensive and simple way
to decrease the rate of damage to the brain from homocysteine would be
with these vitamins.
DNA/RNA has been shown to lower Homocysteine Levels!