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Homocysteine
And Heart Health


Cardiovascular disease refers to strokes and heart disease; accounting for 14 million deaths worldwide annually being the main cause of death in the developed countries and ranking in the top three causes of death in most countries.


Smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, abnormal levels of cholesterol, heredity and age are listed as the risk factors for cardiovascular disease. There is, however, another risk factor: elevated homocysteine. Studies have shown that even slightly elevated homocysteine levels may increase the risk of suffering a heart attack by 200 or 300 percent.


In the late 1960’s, after observing patients born with a genetic defect that resulted in excess homocysteine, a medical doctor, Kilmer McCully M.D., noted that persons having this inherited homocysteine elevation, were more likely to develop severe cardiovascular disease in their teen and early twenties.


Between 10 and 20 percent of coronary heart disease cases have been linked to elevated homocystine levels.


Elevated homocystine levels may be caused by both hereditary and dietary factors. Of the 20 amino acids needed to synthesize body proteins 10 cannot be produced in humans at an adequate rate. One such amino acid is Methionine. It can however be appropriated from food sources such as meat, poultry, milk, fish, and plants such as wheat.


During methobolisim Methionine is transformed to help produce energy and in this process homocysteine is formed. Homocysteine exist for two reasons the manufacture of a by-product which is used in the generation of energy and the resynthesis of Methionine. The latter requires folic acid and vitamin B12.


Elevated levels of homocysteine gives rise to a deficit in vitamins B12 and folic acid this deficiency, along with that of B6, is deemed to be a contributing factor in cases of heart attack and stroke. To assist in combating the scourge of cardiovascular disease one should, therefore, eat more fresh produce and fewer refined foods and have one’s homocysteine level monitored through routine checks.



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