Friday, October 24, 2008


Everyone seems to know their cholesterol level and maybe even their HDL (good) cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol. However, very few are aware of their homocysteine level. Yet, elevated homocysteine levels alone have been shown to be the cause of nearly 15% of every heart attack and stoke in the US and around the world. Homocysteine is the by-product of protein metabolism (methionine) and normally is broken down into a benign and safe product. However, primarily because of a deficiency in B vitamins like vitamin B6, B12, and folic acid, homocysteine levels can rise to dangerous levels. Elevated homocysteine levels cause a tremendous amount of inflammation of our arteries. As you have learned, cardiovascular disease is the result of inflammation of our arteries and is not the result of too much cholesterol in our blood stream.
For pennies a day, supplementation with vitamin B6, B12, and folic acid can significantly decrease our homocysteine levels into a safe range nearly 70% of the time. Since there is not a pharmaceutical drug that can accomplish this goal, physicians do not pay as much attention to this problem as they should. I certainly want my patients with elevated homocysteine levels to reduce those levels as best they can through supplementing their diet. I definitely want my patients to have low homocysteine levels—not high homocysteine levels.