So what if my homocysteine levels are high?

When I took the plunge to do a full panel blood test for food allergies, hormone levels and essentially everything that makes up me, I got some surprising results. Nothing life threatening, but potentially so down the road if not addressed while young.

When my doctor interpreted my lab results he was concerned with my homocysteine levels. Huh? Homocysteine is an amino acid- the breakdown product of protein. In high levels it is thought to be linked to increased risk of heart attack, strokes, atherosclerosis and Alzheimers, if left untreated. What? All of my vitals are normal- cholesterol, blood pressure, minerals, and so on.

What causes this? People with a diet high in animal products and very little fruits and vegetables- so too little folic acid and B vitamins that rid the body of homocysteine. My diet is pretty clean, fairly balanced and supplemented. After researching this, I learned more that applied to my situation: genetics.  Being homozygous for the MTHFR gene mutation is inherited and 30-50% of people carry this mutation.

What does that mean? An MTHFR gene mutation can change the way some people metabolize and convert nutrients from diet into active vitamins, minerals and proteins and can also alter neurotransmitter and hormone levels. Because reduced methylation contributes to poor elimination of heavy metals and toxins, I have to take extra steps to flush waste and accumulated chemicals from my body, pay attention to my diet and take a supplement specifically for this.

Why don’t conventional doctors test homocysteine levels? According to LifeExtension, “Many mainstream doctors still accept classic lipid-related risk factors for heart attack and stroke (e.g., high LDL and triglycerides and low HDL) as the gold standard upon which to base treatment. They continue to ignore the fact that in many cases, high blood levels of homocysteine also predict risk of vascular disease and stroke…The pharmaceutical industry encourages doctors to prescribe highly profitable lipid-lowering drugs to prevent heart attack or stroke in their at-risk patients; there’s simply no monetary incentive for selling non-patentable dietary supplements that perform as well as prescription drugs in lowering homocysteine levels.”

Interestingly though, the FDA just recently approved the 23andMe– a genetic testing company- to market an at home test for consumers to determine if they are genetically predisposed to a particular disease.  As with determining my MTHFR gene mutation, now people can test at home a make lifestyle changes to head off serious health problems down the road.


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