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."
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