Recently, a new and highly accurate predictor of declining
health has emerged. The amino acid homocysteine, measured
through blood serum concentration, is an accurate predictor
of risk for stroke and heart disease. Whether homocysteine
causes these conditions or is simply correlated has been uncertain,
Using 92 studies involving a total of over 20,000 adults,
the authors of this study in the British Medical Journal
evaluated the possible causation of stroke and heart disease
due to high homocysteine levels in the blood. They found that
for every unit ncrease
in serum homocysteine, the odds were increased approximately
one-and-a-half times for heart disease, deep vein thrombosis
(major blood clotting) and stroke.
This adds to evidence suggesting the link between homocysteine
and cardiovascular disease is a causal one. Lowering homocysteine
concentrations in the blood by even less than one unit may
significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, deep vein
thrombosis and stroke.
So how can you lower your homocysteine levels? It's easier
than you think. Homocysteine can be lowered through supplementation
of another acid - folic acid. Also known as vitamin B9, folic
acid can be obtained through foods including fortified cereals,
peas and beans, spinach and whole wheat. To be sure you are
getting enough, taking a multivitamin is your best bet. Folic
acid also helps prevent birth defects (when taken by pregnant
women), cancer, osteoporosis and depression.
Wald DS, Law M, Morris JK. Homocysteine and cardiovascular
disease: Evidence on causality from a meta-analysis. British
Medical Journal 2002:325, pp. 1202-1208.
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