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What Is Homocysteine

Homocysteine is an amino acid that is generally present in all the body cells in a very low amount. That is because the body typically converts homocysteine into other products very quickly. Vitamins B6, B12, and folate are key requirements to metabolize homocysteine. Increased levels of amino acid may be an indication of deficiency in those vitamins. The homocysteine test evaluates the level of homocysteine in the blood and/or urine.

Raised homocysteine levels may also be related to a higher risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Increased homocysteine levels increase the risk of blood clot formation in vessels and may result in heart attack and stroke.

How is a high homocysteine level unfavorable?

Elevated homocysteine range in the blood can damage the arterial linings and may also make the blood clot more quickly than normal. This can increase the possibility of blood vessel blockages. A clot inside the blood vessel is termed as a thrombus. It can travel in the bloodstream and can get stuck in an individual’s:

  • Lungs (pulmonary embolism)
  • Brain (can cause a stroke)
  • Heart (can cause a heart attack)

What causes a high homocysteine level in the blood?

Homocysteine is normally changed into other forms of amino acids that are used by the body. Vitamin B helps the body utilize the homocysteine. If someone’s homocysteine level is too high, it may be a sign of not be getting enough Vitamins B.

Most people who have an abnormal homocysteine level don’t get enough folate, vitamin B6, or vitamin B12. Replacing these essentials nutrients often helps return the homocysteine level to normal. There are some other possible causes of a high homocysteine level:

  • Low levels of thyroid hormone
  • Kidney disease
  • Psoriasis
  • Some medicines
  • Family history

How is the homocysteine level measured?

The homocysteine level is measured using a simple blood test. If anyone’s homocysteine level is too high, they need to lower it. This is especially important if someone has blockages in their blood vessels. Sometimes doctors may take a watchful waiting approach. This means they will monitor the level closely but do not take steps to lower it. A doctor may do this if the person has no other major risk factors for cardiovascular disease and no sign of atherosclerosis (plaque in the arteries). If a person’s homocysteine level increases further, they may need to bring it to a normal range.

What is the test used for?

  • Find out the deficiency in vitamin B12, B6, or folic acid.
  • Helpful in diagnosing homocystinuria (a rare, inherited disorder that inhibits the body from breaking down specific proteins).
  • Screening for heart disease in people who are at high risk for heart attack or stroke.
  • Monitor the condition of people who have heart disease.

Way to lower a high homocysteine level

Eating more vegetables and fruits can help lower homocysteine levels. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli are excellent sources of folate. Other good sources of folate are as follows:

  • Breakfast cereals
  • Fortified grain products
  • Lentils
  • Asparagus
  • Most beans

Individuals may need to increase the amount of vitamin B6 in their balanced diet. Some great sources of vitamin B6 include:

  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Potatoes
  • Bananas
  • Chickpeas
  • Chicken

Individuals also may need to increase the amount of vitamin B-12. Some good sources of vitamin B-12 include:

  • Dairy products
  • Organ meats (such as liver)
  • Beef

Adjusting the diet may not be sufficient to lower down the homocysteine level in the blood. The doctor may suggest some people take a folate supplement. People may also need to take vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12 supplements, as suggested by the healthcare provider.

Medical Tests and Health Checkups Available At House of Diagnostics (HOD).


Data Sources:

  • https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/hemoglobin-a1c-hba1c-test/
  • https://www.diabetes.co.uk/what-is-hba1c.html

What Is Homocysteine
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What Is Homocysteine
Homocysteine is an amino acid that is generally present in all the body cells in a very low amount. That is because the body typically converts homocysteine into other products very quickly.
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