Update 1/18/20. Homocysteine is an amino acid that may increase your risk of heart disease and other health problems. While this is probably not a routine blood test your doctor would prescribe for you, someone recently told me their homocysteine level was high and they asked what they can do to reduce it. That's what prompted me to do this video. The video below describes 5 ways to reduce your levels. After I posted the video, I remembered another way, which I listed below.
What Is Homocysteine
Homocysteine is a type of amino acid. While we make it all the time, generally the level is pretty low. In high amounts, it damages blood vessels and makes blood sticky. Both of these can increase your risk of heart disease strokes and other medical conditions. This compound is different from elevated cholesterol levels which most of you are already familiar with.
Over the years, various studies have noticed higher levels tend to be associated with health conditions such as:
To be fair, some doctors view high homocysteine as controversial. That's because lowering it, doesn't seem to reduce the chances of having a heart attack. Regardless of your stance, this is probably not a compound you want a lot of floating through your bloodstream. We want to keep our levels low.
So how do we lower it?
Lowering Homocysteine Video Review
The 6th Way To Lower It
Aged Garlic Extract
Aged garlic extract is -as the name suggests – an extract from garlic. The extract is called S-allylcysteine. There have been several clinical trials on aged garlic extract, showing it has anti-oxidant properties and can:
- Lower bad (LDL) cholesterol
- Lower blood pressure
- Alter gut micobiome
- Reduce plaque buildup in blood vessels
- Reduce advanced glycation endproducts
- Improve nitric oxide levels
Other clinical trials have also noted aged garlic extract reduces homocysteine levels too.
Because of the research, this is a supplement I've taken for several years.
Summary: Homocysteine Lowering Supplements I like
Homocysteine Blood Test Levels
Normal levels are usually between 4.4 to 10.8 µmol/L. Here are the ranges for elevated levels:
- Moderately high: 15 to 30 µmol/L
- Intermediate high 30 to 100 µmol/L
- Severe high greater than 100 µmol/L
The units used -µmol/L – refer to micro-moles per liter of blood.
Generally, if your levels are in the single digits, you're doing really well.
Top 10 FAQ
1 How do you pronounce it?
The word is pronounced ‘ho-mow-sis-teene.” Watch the video above to hear me pronounce it.
2 Where does homocysteine come from?
We make it. Eating foods high in animal protein can sometimes raise your levels, especially in those deficient in folate (folic acid) as well as B6 and B12. Some medical conditions like hypothyroidism can lead to higher levels too.
3 Do routine blood tests measure it?
A complete blood count (CBC) includes things red and white blood cells while a lipid panel determines your levels of cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, white blood count, etc. Neither test would measure your homocysteine. Your doctor will have to specifically ask to have this compound measured.
4 When would this test be done?
If your doctor suspects you are at risk of heart disease or thinks you may be deficient in B vitamins like folate, B12 or B6.
5 How long until levels go down?
If your trying to reduce your level, give yourself at least 2 months between blood tests to see a difference.
6 Can it be genetic?
Sometimes yes. For example, MTHFR refers to a gene which makes an enzyme involved in homocysteine breakdown. Those with a mutation in MTHFR may have elevated levels.
Also, even in healthy people, levels tend to be higher in men than women. As we get older, levels tend to increase too, although this may be more due to eating poor diet than aging.
7 How is it connected to cancer?
It's complicated. Some research suggests a link to the amino acid methionine. Cancer cells may use methionine to grow. Also, as methionine breaks down, it becomes homocysteine. So, in theory, lowering this compound may reduce cancer risk. This is speculative though.
8. Do you need to fast before the test?
If you are getting a homocysteine blood test, you may not need to fast prior to having your blood drawn. Levels are generally similar if you fast vs. do not fast. Keep in mind that fasting may be required to measure other things your doctor wants to test for.
9 What foods lower it?
As a rule, foods high in the B vitamins, folate, B6 and B12. As mentioned in the video, of these three vitamins, I think folate is what most people are probably not getting enough of. Foods containing folate include green, leafy veggies like spinach, beans as well as oranges and other citrus fruits.
10 Does elevated homocysteine have any symptoms?
There are no obvious signs or symptoms if your levels are high. The only way to know is to get it tested.
Are Your Levels High?
Odds are, your doctor will not test for homocysteine unless she/he thinks there may be a problem. So if you really want to know, you can request the test be performed. Depending on your insurance, it may/may not be covered. If you do score high, don't be alarmed. Odds levels can be reduced by following the lifestyle changes outlined in the video and taking some inexpensive supplements and/or eating better.