Measuring your homocysteine levels can be an easy way of measuring your overall health. But what is homocysteine and why should you worry about it?
What is Homocysteine?
Homocysteine is an amino acid, which means that it is simply one of the basic building blocks of proteins. For the most part, we acquire homocysteine by eating meat. Homocysteine is broken down in a process that requires folic acid, and Vitamins B-6 and B-12, creating a direct relationship between the levels of those vitamins and the level of homocysteine found in your blood. While homocysteine is naturally occurring in all humans, high levels of it are associated with a number of risks.
The Dangers of Elevated Homocysteine Levels
Elevated levels of homocysteine can be a significant danger sign, even in young people. High levels of homocysteine are associated with a higher risk of developing heart disease, as well as of stroke, Alzheimer’s, and osteoporosis. It remains unclear how homocysteine acts to increase these risks, but it does appear to be linked with damage to the arteries and blood vessels.
High levels of homocysteine are not extremely common, but do occur in 5-10% of the population. Levels vary widely based on age, diet, gender, and genetics.
Most people with high homocysteine levels don’t show any particular symptoms, but simply carry a higher risk for cardiovascular disease.