There is a new buzz word regarding a possible predictor of a stroke, coronary heart disease or peripheral vascular disease, and that word is homocysteine; a non-protein α-amino acid derivative from the amino acid cysteine. Many epidemiological studies have shown that too much homocysteine in the blood (specifically the plasma portion) is related to a higher risk of cardiovascular events and atherosclerosis, the plaquing of the arteries. So how does one collect so much homocysteine in the blood that it can result in such serious health risks?
The answer is simple: diet, lifestyle factors and chronic stress.
Stress, Vitamins and Homocysteine
A major factor that contributes to an increase of homocysteine in the blood is a deficiency of three different, yet co-dependent, B-group vitamins. Stress has long been known to deplete the body of B vitamins (and vitamin C), so this isn’t really a big surprise. And when we add poor diet choices along with the sedentary lifestyle, the deficiency only worsens. This then can sets off a chain of reactions that ultimately lead to disease such as:
• Chronic fatigue
• Pain syndromes
These diseases are often compounded by conventional pharmaceutical “treatments”, which further deplete the body of vital nutrients.
Is it any wonder that cardiovascular disease is now the number one cause of death from any health condition. Strangely enough (but not surprising).
A Vicious Cycle
Let’s talk about how homocysteine levels rise in the blood.
In order for the body to process homocysteine, it first must be converted to methionine (an essential amino acid), and this requires an enzyme called methionine synthase. But guess what, methionine synthase requires vitamin B12. If your vitamin B12 levels are low, this means that a vitamin B12 deficiency can easily be indirectly responsible for elevated homocysteine levels in the blood.
With an estimated 10 to 20% of Indians clinically vitamin B12 deficient, and with an unknown amount of people “sub-clinically” or borderline deficient, why isn’t more attention being given to this correlation?
Not only do we have a society that is both malnourished and overweight, we also have high societally- and self-induced levels of stress. And as I already mentioned, stress depletes B vitamins in the body.
Interestingly, there is one other major problem that is significantly involved with the absorption of B vitamins — gastrointestinal issues. When you are under constant stress, and/or eat poorly, it’s no secret the problems that it can cause to your digestive system. In fact, it is such a problem that entire aisles in the grocery store and drug stores are dedicated to just gastrointestinal issues! And, with gastrointestinal issues comes the inability to absorb nutrients such as Vitamin B6 (PyridoxiVitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacine) – and particularly Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)!
What a cycle!
A Quick Word About Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
Folic acid is generally recognized as a pre-natal vitamin, which helps to prevent neural tube defects of the unborn child. It is also associated with anemia, which is most commonly the result of a deficiency of folic acid, vitamin B12 or iron. Besides that, hardly a mention apart from the minuscule amount prescribed as the Recommended Daily Allowance. gastrointestinal issues and other
So, based on what we know, it’s easy to make a connection between:
- Anemia and cardiovascular events, and/or
- Gastrointestinal issues and cardiovascular events, and/or
- Stress and cardiovascular events.
It is also very simple to make the appropriate corrections to reduce homocysteine levels and prevent its effects on the cardiovascular system.
How? By correcting dietary B vitamin deficiencies earlier on.
… And that’s the true meaning of disease prevention!