The abnormal high level of Homocysteine (when the level rises above 15 µmol/L) leads to abnormality in the human body and a medical crisis known as Hyperhomocysteinemia. The high level of homocysteine is led to due to deficiency of vitamins like B6, folic acid or B9 or B9 since in several chemical reactions involves homocysteine. If your vitamin B6, B9 and B12 intake is supplemented or increased, such a health harming issue can be checked and managed. The outcomes of these vitamins being more in amount in your body wouldn't lead to any changes.
What is Hyperhomocysteinemia?
Homocysteine is released as a result of the amino acid breakdown during the process of protein metabolism. When the amount of it increases, the body gets prone to diseases like risks of having a heart attack or a stroke. Also the same can create a plague formation and damage the arterial walls. Further, the homocysteine can clot the blood and by acting on the blood platelets. Whether the higher levels of homocysteine causes severe cardio vascular diseases is yet to be confirmed. Another risk that one gets endured to is to be having double the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
If you are a regular consumer of folic food, proteins, fruits and green leafy vegetables, the blood level of homocysteine in you will be more. It shall be neutralized by the B6, B9 and B12 vitamins you will be taking in everyday in your diet in the form of the above mentioned food.
Homocysteine can also be produced in the body from another amino acid; methionine. Methionine is the provider for methyl groups. Methyl group's fragment contains one carbon and 3 hydrogen atoms. Donating a methyl group makes methionine convert into homocysteine. In the similar way, homocysteine receives different methyl groups from folic acid or vitamin B6 and convert back to methionine.
The relationship between levels of homocysteine in your blood and risk of heart diseases is still controversial.
A large study was done in UK in 2012. There UK debated about the fact that homocysteine acts as a risk factor for heart disease. The research further showed that the 116000 people were genetically analyzed for mutations in a gene that prompts homocysteine formation. The study also showed that the mutation itself acted as a cause for the rise of homocysteine, by 20%. These study participants who were affected showed risks of having a heart disease. The report was published in PLoS Medicine in February, 2012.
Another published study in New England Journal of Medicine in April, 2006 showed that women who are affected by heart disease have elevated homocysteine and are prone to death four times more than the women with normal levels. It is still unclear if the higher levels of homocysteine caused the heart diseases or the heart diseases led to the rise of higher level of homocysteine.
Causes of Hyperhomocysteinemia
The main cause for ayperhomocysteinemia or elevated level of homocysteine in blood is the insufficient intake of vitamin B group. The other cause of hyperhomocysteinemia is genetic factor which decided the folic acid intake in our body and therefore can lead to elevated homocysteine. In such a case, you must increase your folic acid intake to more than RDA of 400 mcg.
- Consumption of too much coffee can increase the level of homocysteine or Hyperhomocysteinemia.
- If you are under stress, the level of homocysteine in your blood is likely to increase. The liver metabolizes the epinephrine and norepinephrine which are stress-induced neurotransmitters. This process included methyl group and can demand for more intake of folic acid.
- Elevated levels of homocysteine in your blood can also occur due to kidney disease, thyroid hormone, psoriasis and some medications.
Signs and Symptoms of Hyperhomocysteinemia
There are no direct signs and symptoms of Hyperhomocysteinemia but a number of diseases are related to the high levels of homocysteine in blood.
- Cardiovascular Risks: Cardio vascular risks and thrombosis can occur due to high levels of homocysteine. Microbuminuria which indicates risks of heart diseases and renal dysfunction in the future is also associated with it. Arteries, collagen, proteoglycans and elastin required for building the structure of 3 main arteries degraded and inhibited by it. It is also known to permanently damage cysteine disulphide bridges, lysine amino acid residues.
- Neuropsychiatric Illness: You could be prone to twice the regular chances of developing Alzheimer's disease with elevated homocysteine in your blood. Risks of developing mild cognitive impairment and dementia can also occur due to high levels of homocysteine and low levels of vitamin B6 and B12. Higher level of it can also cause oxidative stress that might lead to schizophrenia.
- Bone Health: Hyperhomocysteinemia can cause increased rate of fractures in elderly people. All reactive intermediates of oxygen react with homocysteine. This in turn will damage the endothelial cells and the thrombus can get formed.
Diagnosis of Hyperhomocysteinemia
The diagnosis of hyperhomocysteinemia is done by blood tests. With the help of blood tests you can check the level of homocysteine within your body. If you have a family history of not many risk factors but heart disease then the physicians might suggest you to do the test to check up for high cholesterol and high blood pressure along with the blood test for homocysteine. These tests determining the level of homocysteine in your body is not done everywhere. These tests are rarely available. The proper level of homocysteine which is harmless for the body is 4.4. and 10.8 micromoles per litre of blood.
Treatment for Hyperhomocysteinemia
Other than increasing the intake of vitamin B in your diet, there is no proper and prescribed way to treat the high level of homocysteine aka Hyperhomocysteinemia in your body. You must increase the intake of green leafy vegetable, whole grain based food for increasing vitamin b group in your body. Studies which can prove that lower level of homocysteine can bring down the risk of heart diseases are yet to be completed. It can also be that people didn't research about it in great detail or they failed to bring down the level of homocysteine.
You will always find the doctor asking you to eat foods that have a high folic acid. The folate (food containing folic acid) like green, leafy vegetables, orange juices and beans delivers a huge amount of vitamin B group in your body which will bring down the level of homocysteine in your blood. Doctors also suggest taking multivitamin tablets which will add micrograms of more folic acid than your usual content. This is consumed by people as a supplementary form to their diets and doctors refer this as good insurance. For reducing stress, the doctors might ask you to practice breathing exercises. You can also develop the habit of meditating or doing yoga regularly. If you can decrease your intake of animal protein and focus more on proteins like that in fish or beans, whole soy products and dairy then the homocysteine level may go down. Doctors also suggest to avoid inflammatory foods, and bring don your protein intake up to 120 grams daily.
All the above mentioned ways help in treating Hyperhomocysteinemia.