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What Is Homocysteine?

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The buzz about high homocysteine levels is usually heard in conversations about heart disease.  But there is emerging research correlating higher levels of homocysteine levels with Alzheimer’s disease.

Homocysteine, a sulfur-containing amino acid that occurs naturally in humans, plays a role in irritating the walls of blood vessels that can lead to narrowing or hardening.   High levels of homocysteine can also cause blood clotting, which can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

So the correlation between vascular dementia and high levels of homocysteine makes sense: poor blood flow to the brain leads to cell damage.  But researchers discovered that people with Alzheimer’s disease also had higher levels of homocysteine than control groups (1).

Luckily, you can lower homocysteine levels by eating the right foods. Vitamin B, specifically folic acid, vitamin B6, and B12 (2).

Good sources of these B vitamins can be found in green leafy vegetables, beans, chickpeas, asparagus, and spinach.

Photo credit: Fine Cooking .com

Photo credit: Fine Cooking .com

Isn’t it marvelous that just by eating things that grow naturally in the environment- foods that don’t require any special processing, packaging, or modification- can so easily mitigate your risk factors?
The bottom line:   the lower the blood levels of homocysteine, the better.
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Megadoses of folic acid, vitamin B6 and B12 are not recommended. Individuals should discuss dosage with their doctor before beginning any supplements

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