What Does My Homocysteine Level Tell Me? 

Elevated levels of the amino acid homocysteine have been associated with many common diseases, including heart disease, strokes, venous thrombosis, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, blood clots, diabetes, kidney disease and colorectal cancer. The commonly made, but incorrect, assumption is that these diseases are caused by elevated homocysteine in the body and the solution is to give medications (vitamin pills) to fix the problem. 

However, homocysteine is not the problem.  Elevated homocysteine is only a sign that the body is becoming diseased and at risk of a tragedy.  We call this type of sign a “risk factor”—it predicts future risk, but it is not a disease in itself—no one dies of an elevated homocysteine level—most commonly, clogged heart arteries are the actual cause of death for those people showing this sign.  

Homocysteine levels increase when people eat more meat and fewer vegetables. These same dietary habits cause other signs (risk factors)—indicating a higher chance of death and disability—to rise; like cholesterol, triglycerides, uric acid, blood sugar, lipoprotein, C-reactive protein, blood pressure, and body weight. Fortunately, correcting the poor diet heals the underlying disease, and at the same time the risk factors show improvement. 

An article appearing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on July 29, 2015 reported the outcome of a study of older women which found an increased risk of osteoporosis of the lumbar spine among those with higher levels of methylmalonic acid (MMA, which is elevated in up to 98% of those with vitamin B12 deficiency) and the potentially damaging amino acid homocysteine.  Women with normal lumbar spine BMD had lower homocysteine and higher RBC folate* than those who had low bone mass or osteoporosis. 

*The RBC folate is usually included in a Complete Blood Count (CBC) and listed as RBC (red blood cell).  Normal range is 4.00 - 5.20 MIL/UL.

Large amounts of a sulphur-containing amino acid, called methionine, is found in beef, chicken, cheese and eggs. Excessive consumption of methionine is highly toxic (Harper et al., 1970) and causes damage to various tissues and organs.  Studies of animals on diet modulation have shown that excessive methionine induced oxidative stress, vascular damage, renal iron accumulation and liver dysfunction. (Troen et al., 2003).

Homocysteine is the metabolic product of methionine. The low-methionine content of vegan diets has been proposed as a strategy for increased life expectancy in humans (McCarty et al., 2009).

The 2013 Journal of Affective Disorders, published the article "Homocysteine, depression and cognitive function in older adults."  Their conclusion: Depression and high total plasma homocysteine (tHcy) are independently associated with cognitive impairment in older adults. 

The 2008 Journal of Affective Disorders, published the article "Serum homocysteine levels and cognitive functioning in euthymic bipolar patients." Their conclusion: Elevated plasma homocysteine (Hcy) levels may play a role in the cognitive deficits in patients with bipolar disorder (BD), with a higher impact among older patients, or who had a delayed onset of illness.

To find out your homocysteine level you will need to check with your physician.  Alternatives include a visit to an "Any Lab Test" location in your town and pay $99.  To find your RBC, you can get a Complete Blood Count (CBC) for $49. 

For a FREE chart that you can print off and fill in with your test results, click here.

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