Who says we have to suffer...to live a healthy happy vibrant life?

Red wine and dark chocolate... might seem decadent...but these guilty pleasures also might help us live longer...and healthier lives. Red wine and dark chocolate definitely improve an evening..but they also contain resveratrol..which lowers blood sugar. Red wine is a great source of catechins..which boost protective HDL cholesterol. Green tea? Protects your brain..helps you live longer..and soothes your spirit.

Food for Thought, the blog, is about living the good life...a life we create with our thoughts and our choices...and having fun the whole while!

I say lets make the thoughts good ones..and let the choices be healthy...exciting...and delicious! Bon Appetit!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Blood Vessel Damage and Elevated Homocysteine

A bit of background...the post before this one tells of a link between dementia and low vitamin B-12 and Folic Acid status. You are taking a good multi-vitamin aren't you? When we have too little of those two B vitamins, or of vitamin B-6 we run the risk of having an elevations of a compound in the blood called homocysteine. 

Why do we worry about this? Well, aside from the risk of dementia..or Alzheimer's, having elevated homocysteine also puts us in danger of heart attack, and blood clots in our brains or in our legs...and yes the ones in our legs are very dangerous. They can move to our lungs and kill us...just as a clot in the brain can cause a stroke, or one in a coronary artery can cause a heart attack.

Suffice it to say...we don't want to ignore elevated homocysteine. Homocysteine is thought to cause vascular disease because of its effect on blood vessel walls. Homocysteine binds to certain proteins in the body affecting their structure and function. The binding of homocysteine to proteins will degrade and inhibit repair and maintenance of three main vascular connective tissue structures—cartilage, elastin and proteolgycans—making them more susceptible to disease processes, including vascular disease.

How might we protect ourselves....well that part is easy!

B Vitamins...B-12, Folic acid and B-6..and another supplement called NAC. N Acetyl Cysteine. You can have your doctor add the homocysteine screening to your cholesterol panel next time you're in for a check-up...you ARE getting them routinely yes? If your multi-vitamin isn't getting the job done...meaning your level is higher than what is ideal...you could use a higher potency B-Complex for a bit, and some NAC to reduce your risk.

Here's an abstract from one study that identified the mechanisms I mentioned above for blood vessel damage...

"Elevated blood levels of homocysteine also are considered an independent risk factor for atherosclerosis and thromboembolism (the obstruction of a blood vessel by a clot), and are correlated with a significant risk for coronary, cerebral and peripheral vascular disease, myocardial infarction (heart attacks), peripheral vascular occlusive disease, cerebral vascular occlusive disease, and retinal vascular disease."

Lentz SR. 
"Mechanisms of homocysteine-induced atherothrombosis." J Thromb Haemost. 2005 Aug;3(8):1646-54.

       And one more thing to think about...stress, anger, and hostility..seem to raise homocysteine levels...Results showed that there was a positive and significant association between hostility and homocysteine levels for all participants, and a positive and significant correlation between anger in and homocysteine levels for men. This is one suggested potential mechanism for the increased cardiovascular risk associated with hostility and anger expression Psychological factors appear to be related to blood concentrations of homocysteine. It is possible that hostility may be a sign of more life stress, and that stress appears to increase homocysteine levels. So take it easy! 

 Stoney CM, Engebretson TO
"Plasma Homocysteine Concentrations Are Positively Associated With Hostility and Anger," , Life Sci, 2000;66(23):2267-2275.

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