Elevated Homocysteine Levels May Heighten Risk Of Heart Attack, Stroke, & Alzheimer’s Disease

Written by Dr. Chris Smith, Updated on January 13th, 2024
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Alzheimer disease

Alzheimer's is one of the most common age-related conditions in the United States. It affects the lives of over five million older adults in the country. As more Americans get older, the number of men and women with Alzheimer's is expected to triple in the next thirty years.

Because of this daunting fact, there is an exceptional amount of research going into the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. A recent study published by researchers at Temple University explores the link between elevated Homocysteine, Vitamin Deficiency, and Alzheimer's.

Homocysteine's Effects on the Brain

High levels of Homocysteine are known to vastly increase the likelihood of dementia, potentially up to 10x. There are several ways that elevated Homocysteine is dangerous to brain function and health. It impairs memory, reduces blood flow in the brain due to plaque formation, and it leads to chronic inflammation. Furthermore, Homocysteine elevation leads to the development of dreaded beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles. These formations make it more difficult to repair DNA, leading to malfunction and disruption at the genetic level.

In one study, the risk of vascular dementia increases 4x-10x as a result of high Homocysteine, and the extent of cognitive impairment was closely correlated to the degree of Homocysteine elevation. While Homocysteine is a strong risk factor for cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer's, it's also a treatable health issue. By lowering Homocysteine it is possible to mitigate the risks associated with these conditions, along with the brain damage.

A new study printed in Molecular Psychiatry connects Homocysteine elevation to B-Vitamin Deficiency. B Vitamins help deconstruct proteins and detoxify the brain. Without sufficient B Complex Vitamins, the brain can't effectively remove waste, increasing the risk of neurological issues and deterioration.

In this study, mice experienced induced B6, B9, and B12 deprivation. After eight months, the rodents experienced a 50% increase in tau tangles along with significantly increased Homocysteine. This was also correlated with an increase in 5-LOX, a chemical that exacerbates inflammation. After this sustained period of vitamin deficiency, the mice experienced serious issues with maze navigation.

Homocysteine and the Cardiovascular System

While the focus of this research is on the effects of Homocysteine on the brain, the dangers of elevated levels of this amino acid don't end there. It's also very dangerous to the cardiovascular system, increasing the risk of carotid artery constriction, plaque deposits, and blood vessel damage.

Elevated Homocysteine significantly increases the risk of stroke and heart attack. It also prevents the vascular system from bypassing blocked blood vessels. One piece of research estimated that every 5 umoles per liter Homocysteine increased the risk of adverse cardiovascular events by 25%.

What Causes Homocysteine Levels to Rise?

Homocysteine levels naturally rise as a byproduct of aging, largely because the body detoxifies less efficiently. Prescription drugs, stress, and genetics also contribute to increasing Homocysteine. It's strongly believed that B-Complex Deficiencies (which are also correlated with age) are among the biggest contributing factors.

If you're interested in reducing the risk of age-related conditions associated with Elevated Homocysteine, we can arrange for a blood test that will help diagnose vitamin deficiency and measure your Homocysteine. The older that you get, the more important it is to get tested.


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