In simple terms, supporting healthy homocysteine levels is important for overall health because high levels of homocysteine in the blood have been linked to an increased risk of various health problems, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, and Alzheimer's disease[i]. Homocysteine is involved in the body's methylation process, which is important for regulating gene expression, protein activity, and neurotransmitter metabolism.
The good news is you can take steps to support healthy methylation and reduce the risk of associated health problems. This may include dietary changes, lifestyle modifications, and targeted supplementation[ii].
Homocysteine support refers to interventions aimed at maintaining healthy levels of homocysteine in the blood[iii]. Homocysteine is an amino acid that is produced during the metabolism of methionine, another amino acid. High levels of homocysteine in the blood have been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and other health problems[iv]. Homocysteine is involved in methylation because it can be converted back into methionine through a series of chemical reactions that require methyl groups, you can read more on this in our other article on here.
Homocysteine is an amino acid that is formed during the breakdown of proteins in the body. Elevated levels of homocysteine, also known as hyperhomocysteinaemia, can lead to arterial damage and an increased risk of blood clots in the blood vessels[v].
In many instances, high levels of homocysteine indicate a deficiency in vitamin B12 or folate. The normal range of homocysteine in the blood is less than 15 micromoles per litre (mcmol/L).
High homocysteine does not usually manifest any symptoms in adults, although it may occur in children. Often, symptoms can differ from person to person, and they may be quite mild[vi].
If a vitamin deficiency is suspected by a nutritionist or GP, they may recommend a homocysteine test, particularly if symptoms of a vitamin deficiency are present.
Symptoms of a vitamin B-12 deficiency may include:
Homocysteine support can involve various interventions, including dietary changes, lifestyle modifications, and targeted nutrient supplementation. Nutrients that play a crucial role in homocysteine metabolism include folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12[vii].
Supplementation with these vitamins can be helpful in supporting healthy homocysteine levels, particularly in those with genetic variations that make it difficult for them to metabolise these nutrients[viii].
The role of b12 and folate in homocysteine support
Vitamin B12 and folate play important roles in homocysteine support by helping to convert homocysteine to other substances[ix]. Specifically, these vitamins are involved in a process called methylation, which converts homocysteine to methionine, an essential amino acid. Methionine can then be converted to other important compounds in the body, such as glutathione, which is a powerful antioxidant[x].
Try: Dr. Schulze Dr. Schulze's Superfood - One serving of Dr. Schulze's Superfood (roughly 12 grams or two tablespoons) contains 240% of the recommended daily value (DV) of vitamin B12 and 100% of the DV of folate. In addition to these vitamins, the supplement also contains other B vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B6.
Try: Pure Encapsulations Homocysteine Factors - Homocysteine Factors is a blend of vitamins and other nutrients that help maintain normal homocysteine levels and promote cardiovascular health. Ingredients in this formula may help reduce the risk of vascular disease when combined with a well-balanced diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol[xi].
Try: Viridian 65+ Multivitamin - Specifically formulated to support the nutritional status in the over 65s, with added digestive factors.
Try: Cytoplan Methyl Factors - Methyl Factors has been developed to help support those who need extra methyl donor nutrients to facilitate this process in the body. Methyl groups are the body’s messengers; they join with other compounds to “jump-start” reactions, such as turning on or off a gene, or activating an enzyme.
Try: Pure Encapsulations PureGenomic Ultra Multivitamin - A comprehensive profile of bioavailable vitamins, chelated minerals and other nutrients. It includes vitamins B6, B12, folate and choline which contribute to normal homocysteine metabolism. And features optimised levels of nutrients for personalised nutritional requirements.
Genetic Testing - (Methylation pathways): genetic testing is a type of genetic testing that examines variants in genes related to the methylation process. Methylation is a crucial process that involves the transfer of a methyl group to DNA, RNA, proteins, and other molecules. This process plays a vital role in regulating gene expression, cellular differentiation, and many other biological processes[xii].
[i] Hermann A, Sitdikova G. Homocysteine: Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Role in Disease. Biomolecules. 2021 May 15;11(5):737. doi: 10.3390/biom11050737. PMID: 34063494; PMCID: PMC8156138.
[ii] Bleich S, Hillemacher T. Homocysteine, alcoholism and its molecular networks. Pharmacopsychiatry. 2009 May;42 Suppl 1:S102-9. doi: 10.1055/s-0029-1214396. Epub 2009 May 11. PMID: 19434547.
[iii] Kalra DK. Homocysteine and cardiovascular disease. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2004 Mar;6(2):101-6. doi: 10.1007/s11883-004-0097-3. PMID: 15023293.
[iv] Ganguly P, Alam SF. Role of homocysteine in the development of cardiovascular disease. Nutr J. 2015 Jan 10;14:6. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-14-6. PMID: 25577237; PMCID: PMC4326479.
[v] Kaplan P, Tatarkova Z, Sivonova MK, Racay P, Lehotsky J. Homocysteine and Mitochondria in Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Systems. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Oct 18;21(20):7698. doi: 10.3390/ijms21207698. PMID: 33080955; PMCID: PMC7589705.
[vi] Hashimoto T, Shinohara Y, Hasegawa H. [Homocysteine metabolism]. Yakugaku Zasshi. 2007 Oct;127(10):1579-92. Japanese. doi: 10.1248/yakushi.127.1579. PMID: 17917419.
[vii] Lin CP, Chen YH, Leu HB, Lin SJ, Chen YL, Huang SL, Chen JW. Anti-inflammatory strategies for homocysteine-related cardiovascular disease. Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2009 Jan 1;14(10):3836-45. doi: 10.2741/3492. PMID: 19273314.
[viii] Pi T, Liu B, Shi J. Abnormal Homocysteine Metabolism: An Insight of Alzheimer's Disease from DNA Methylation. Behav Neurol. 2020 Sep 8;2020:8438602. doi: 10.1155/2020/8438602. PMID: 32963633; PMCID: PMC7495165.
[ix] Tchantchou F. Homocysteine metabolism and various consequences of folate deficiency. J Alzheimers Dis. 2006 Aug;9(4):421-7. doi: 10.3233/jad-2006-9408. PMID: 16917151.
[x] McCully KS. Homocysteine and the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. 2015 Mar;8(2):211-9. doi: 10.1586/17512433.2015.1010516. Epub 2015 Feb 5. PMID: 25653125.
[xi] Wijekoon EP, Brosnan ME, Brosnan JT. Homocysteine metabolism in diabetes. Biochem Soc Trans. 2007 Nov;35(Pt 5):1175-9. doi: 10.1042/BST0351175. PMID: 17956306.
[xii] Moll S, Varga EA. Homocysteine and MTHFR Mutations. Circulation. 2015 Jul 7;132(1):e6-9. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.013311. PMID: 26149435.
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.