Homocysteine is an important name to understand because it is the underlying culprit in many conditions including fatigue, depression, memory loss, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, birth defects, and neurological problems. It occurs naturally in the body when we metabolize amino acids from proteins. Small amounts of homocysteine are not a problem – but large amounts are. Homocysteine will build up in the body when there is not enough of one or more of the following B vitamins – folic acid, B12, and B6. Most importantly, it is directly damaging to the lining of blood vessels, causing the injury that attracts the “sticky” cholesterol to build up. This test is now considered an important part of a routine cholesterol evaluation. Homocysteine should be absent or negligible. The lower the better. The medical literature indicates increasing risk at any level above 8 umol/L. Levels less than 8 are healthy. Discuss this with your physician.
Note: B vitamin status is affected by many factors. Antagonists to B vitamins include sugar, caffeine, alcohol, sodas, refined foods, toxin exposure, stress, smoking, smoke exposure, chemical exposures and medications (diuretics, antacids, dilantin, oral contraceptives, hormone replacement, anti-hypertensives, cholestyramine). B vitamins are abundant in vegetables, sea foods, meats, eggs, grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and non-refined foods. Processing and refining diminish B vitamin content significantly. Correction involves not just B vitamin complex but additional B12, folic acid, B6 and the active form of B6 known as Pyridoxal-5-phosphate. Also important in this pathway is a co-factor called TMG (trimethylglycine). Injections are more immediately effective and can be used as needed. There is a wide range of safety in a balance B complex. Whereas too little carries high risks, too much carries insignificant risks.
* Glossitis of the tongue (fissured, red, slick areas)
* Memory problems, focus issues
* Attention issues
* Hair loss
* Eczema, dermatitis of the skin (rashes)
* Neurological symptoms: numbness, tingling, skin crawling sensations.
* Skin discoloration (darker patches, white patches)
* Cracks in the corner of the mouth.
* “Blood shot eyes”
* Arthralgia, joint pains
* Inflammatory conditions
* Increased cholesterol and the beginning of plaque accumulation
* Severe depression
* Neurological disorders, Neuropathy, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
* Dementia, Senility, Confusion
* Neural Tube Defects
* Calf tenderness or pain
* Weak muscles
* Severely red, cracked (fissured) and/or sore tongue
* Atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases
References: Mayo Clinical Proceedings 2000:75(4):369-80 Nutrition 2000:16(4):296–302. Int Journal Bichem Cell Biol 2000 32(4):385-9. Circulation 2000: 101(13):1506-11. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2000:71(2):480-484 JAMA 1991:268(7):877-881. New England journal of Medicine 2000:342(12):836-43 New England Journal of Medicine 1988:318:1720-8.