Heart Health, Homocysteine and Your Genes
by Jean-Marc Sobczyk, ND
According to the CDC, Heart disease is still the first leading cause of death in the US. In 2017, more than 650000 people died from heart disease. (1)
What is Homocysteine?
Homocysteine is a type of amino acid, a chemical your body uses to make proteins that comes from eating meat.
A homocysteine test is a standard test ordered by your doctor to measure the amount of homocysteine in your blood.
Usually, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and Folate (Vitamin B9) break down homocysteine and change it into other substances your body needs, so there should be very little homocysteine left in the bloodstream, but if you have high levels of homocysteine in your blood, it may be a sign of a vitamin deficiency, a sign of possible underlying heart disease or a sign of a genetic mutation preventing you from recycling Homocysteine (2)
Studies have shown that increased homocysteine is positively correlated to increased risks of cardiovascular events (3). As prevention, you want to maintain homocysteine within an optimal 6-8 range.
Which common gene mutation increases homocysteine?
MTHFR variants, MTHFR C677T, in particular, can lead to an increase of homocysteine. If our body does not generate enough methyl folate (created by the MTHFR enzyme) to process and convert homocysteine into methionine (Methyl-Homocysteine), it will start to accumulate. Homocysteine can also be broken down by the CBS enzyme. This enzyme needs Vitamin B6 to process homocysteine and helps detoxify the body.
In the Liver and Kidneys, Homocysteine can also be converted back to methionine via a different route involving the BHMT enzyme (Betaine Homocysteine MethylTransferase)
Dr. Sobczyk can help you choosing genetic testing companies to help you find out about these genes, ask Dr. Jean-Marc Sobczyk, a genomics expert. Book your free 10 minutes appointment here.
Individuals with a family history of heart disease discovered at a young age or with relatives who died from heart attacks before the age of fifty are more likely to carry these genes variants and should be tested.
How to lower homocysteine naturally?
Nutrient deficiencies, along with either of these metabolic pathways, may result in elevated homocysteine levels.
The First two pathways involve the use of the B vitamins, while the other one uses trimethylglycine (Betaine) and choline.
Where to find these nutrients?
Folate (B9) is found in real foods such as green leafy vegetables (spinach, collard greens, and romaine), asparagus, papaya, lentils, avocados, Brussels sprouts, nuts, seeds, and beets.
Vitamin B6 is found in meats, beans, avocados and nuts and seeds.
Vitamin B12 is found in meats, vegan, and vegetarian diets may lack B12, but it can be easily supplemented.
Riboflavin (B2)is found in lamb, eggs, liver, salmon, and mushrooms.
Betaine (trimethylglycine)is found in beets, quinoa, and spinach.
Choline is found in beef liver, eggs, cauliflower, and broccoli.