Heart disease continues to be the leading killer in the western world. Many factors can increase the risk of heart disease. Diet has always been considered an important risk factor. Many foods in our diet have been shown to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease, while others increase the risk.
There has been a ‘sense’ that there may be “something else” contributing to heart disease. Today we know that Homocysteine is that “something else”. Homocysteine is a nonprotein amino acid in the blood (plasma) and is related to a higher risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease.
Additional evidence suggests it may also have an effect on atherosclerosis by damaging the inner lining of arteries and promoting blood clots.
So what does a naturally occurring amino acid have to do with heart disease? It has been almost an accidental discovery that has pointed to homocysteine as a culprit. Just as the incidence of heart disease rises with age, blood homocysteine levels tend to rise with age, rising due to renal impairment, increasing in women after menopause, and higher in men compared to women of the same age. Studies show that blood levels of homocysteine are elevated in coronary artery disease patients more than the control population.
Sufferers of coronary artery disease often have blood homocysteine levels of greater than 15 µmol/L which is considered to be high. Ask your physician what your level is, and have it checked regularly. Write it down and keep your own records.
How important is blood homocysteine? Researchers warn that high blood levels of homocysteine may be as dangerous as smoking and having high cholesterol.
It is also known that homocysteine affects collagen levels by interfering with the cross-linking between the collagen fibers and the tissues they reinforce. A recent trial with 2 homocysteine-lowering vitamins (folate and B12) in people who had previously had a stroke, there was an 80% reduction in fractures, mainly hip, after 2 years. (There is a link between storke and hip fractures or the affected side. )
Vitamin supplements counter the bad effects of homocysteine on collagen. Because of poor absorption, certain benefit better from taking higher doses of folic acid and vitamin B-12 orally, daily. These two vitamins help in the metabolism of homocysteine. Food sources of Vitamin B-12 include clean lean meats, free-range dairy products and eggs. (I like organic and Kosher for meats and animal products). Sources of folic acid include cooked spinach, asparagus, lentils and garbanzo beans. Again, adding fresh green leafy veggies is key to great health. Remember, Health is a Choice!
Carolyn Guilford, nutritionist and wellness advocate P O Box 2814 -Savannah, GA 31402, or call 912 236-8987. Visit Carolyn@healthrestoration101.com. Her books are available at www.amazon.com/author/carolynguilford in Kindle format.