What is Homocysteine?
Researchers now believe homocysteine is over 40% more accurate to predict heart disease than cholesterol.
Cardiovascular disease causes 44% of all deaths in the United States. Alzheimer's dementia affects 4 million Americans now, and is expected to increase sharply as the population ages. Both cardiovascular and Alzheimer's disease have now been linked to the accumulation of a toxic amino acid called homocysteine.
Homocysteine is formed by the body as a naturally synthesized byproduct of methionine ( a very important amino acid in your body) metabolism. Like cholesterol, homocysteine performs a necessary function in the body, after which, if the right cofactors are present, it will eventually convert to cysteine (and this is one of the amino acids needed to produce glutathione, which is very critical in your detoxifications pathways.)
And other beneficial compounds such as ATP, (the energy molecule of the body) and S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), creatine, choline, part of your RNA and DNA messangers and epinephrine..these are all critical elements of your healthy biochemistry.
Treating high cholesterol with herbs and supplements is a great idea, but one needs to know that there is a very specific group of nutrients needed to work together…which you will see as I proceed with this article.
What I am addressing on this page is a particular chemistry associated with high levels of homocysteine...in my opinion, brought on by our generally nutrient poor diets in the western world. Foods are over-processed, people choose fast-convenient food over home prepared from scratch meals.
As a result the essential nutrients, B6, B12, folic acid and trimethylglycine are in low levels and hence the correction of the homocysteine cycle is what is needed. These are all in natural substances used to lower cholesterol.
The main sites of metabolism are in the kidney and liver. And good levels of folic acid are required to keep homocysteine low.
When left intact, it enters the bloodstream and begins attacking blood vessel walls, laying the foundation for heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.
Many enzymes, or catalysts are involved in the complete metabolism of homocysteine. If any of these enzymes is defective or functions inefficiently, the body is less able to successfully process homocysteine.
Although this enzyme dysfunction may be due to a mutated or defective gene, ( identified by Dr. Rima Rozen at McGill University in Montreal), more often this breakdown in metabolism is due to deficiencies of certain nutrients. . .particularly B-6, B-12 and folic acid.
When this function is disordered, whether due to genetic defect or nutrient deficiency, homocysteine accumulates and enters the bloodstream where it promotes oxidation of lipids, causes platelets to stick together, enhances the binding of lipoprotein (a) to fibrin and promotes free radical damage to the inside of arteries.
Factors which increase homocysteine:
Males affected more than females
Increases with age
Drugs i.e Birth Control Pill, L-Dopa, etc
Reducing Homocysteine Levels:
The good news is...elevated homocysteine levels, whether due to nutrient deficiencies or defective genes, can easily be normalized in virtually all cases, simply and inexpensively, using a combination of nutritional supplements.
The most effective defense against homocysteine buildup is a combination of vitamins B-6 and B-12, folio acid and trimethylglycine (TMG). So you have a way to naturally lower cholesterol.
There are three biochemical pathways used by the body to reduce homocysteine. In one pathway TMG donates a methyl group which detoxifies homocysteine. In this reaction, TMG is reduced to DMG (dimethylglycine), that familiar-product sold as a supplement for its energizing effects. In the other routes, folic acid, B12 and B6 convert homocysteine into nontoxic substances. Some people can't utilize one or another of these pathways.
That is why a combination of all these nutrients is most effective for lowering homocysteine. In some people vitamin B may not be efficiently converted to its active co-enzyme form, pyridoxyl-5-phosphate. In that case supplementing with pyridoxyl-5-phosphate would be necessary. There we go again..good health depends on nutrition and yet many medical types insist nutrition has nothing to do with overall health!
In general the recommended amount of about 500 mg of TMG per day, 800 mcg of folic acid, (preferrably in the active MTHF form) 500 mcg of B12, 25 mg of B6 and 5 mg of zinc should be taken to maintain homocysteine level. This should of course be taken in divided doses over the day.
Botanical & Other Supplements:
Guggul, Niacin & Beta-Sitosterol might also help maintain homocysteine level.
Solgar's Homocysteine Modulators