For optimum heart health, check your vitamin B12 and homocysteine levels regularly. That’s correct! Most people understand the importance of exercise and a healthy low-fat diet in preventing heart attacks, but a vast majority are unaware of the link between homocysteine and heart disease, and the important role that vitamin B12 plays in cardiovascular health.
What is homocysteine?
Homocysteine is an amino acid that your body produces while digesting protein foods such as meat, chicken, and fish (all excellent sources of vitamin B12).
In healthy individuals, homocysteine is broken down immediately and removed from your blood supply with the help of these important nutrients: vitamin B12, folic acid, and vitamin B6.
Elevated levels of homocysteine, or hyperhomocysteinemia, often occurs as a result of vitamin B12 deficiency, in addition to low levels of vitamin B6 and folate.
Without healthy levels of vitamin B12, folate, and vitamin B6, your homocysteine levels will continue to escalate to a dangerous high.
Is homocysteine bad for you?
Scientists have noted high homocysteine levels in people suffering from debilitating health problems involving the heart, blood vessels, and the brain.
High levels of homocysteine is now considered a risk factor for heart disease and blood vessel disease, as researchers confirm a high correlation between heart attacks, stroke and a deficiency in vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and folate.
Homocysteine may be involved in hardening of the arteries, fatty deposits in the peripheral arteries and the formation of dangerous blood clots.
Scientists have also cited a link between high homocysteine and cognitive disorders, such as age-related memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease, noting vitamin B12 deficiency and low folate as factors that often correlate with memory problems in elderly patients with unusually high homocysteine levels.
Researchers believe that many other illnesses may be directly related to low vitamin B12 and high homocysteine, including osteoporosis and problems with pregnancies, such as miscarriages or premature births.
Where does vitamin B12 fit in?
It’s difficult (and expensive) to constantly test for homocysteine levels. Most hospitals don’t offer routine homocysteine screening as part of their cardiovascular health care options.
It’s much easier to regulate homocysteine naturally, by maintaining high levels of vitamin B12, folate, and vitamin B6 at all times.
To find out if you have enough vitamin B12, it’s good to receive a blood screening for vitamin B12 deficiency, especially if you are a high risk for heart disease.
More importantly, though, it’s important to be aware of the all the possible symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, as many of the blood tests for low B12 are inaccurate.
Also read: Why B12 Blood Tests are an Epic Fail
Who gets vitamin B12 deficiency?
Many people are at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency, as it’s one of the leading causes of malnourishment in developed countries such as the US, Europe, and the UK.
Risk factors for vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- Family history for pernicious anemia
- Autoimmune disorders
- Vegan dieting
- Illnesses such as fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, or lupus, which cause damage to the stomach linings
- Bariatric surgery (gastric bypass) or ileostomy
- Diabetes medications (metformin)
- GERD medications (PPI’s)
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency
Early warning signs of vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Confusion (brain fog)
- Painful tingling, burning, or numbness in the arms, hands, legs, or feet
- Muscle spasms
- Eye twitches
- Sore tongue
- Difficulty walking without stumbling (gait disturbances)
- Difficult controlling arm and leg movements
- Heart palpitations or panting
Also read: Vitamin Deficiency symptoms List
Treating vitamin B12 deficiency
Once diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency, your homocysteine levels will return to normal, and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency will abate, only upon immediate and thorough supplementation of vitamin B12.
Your doctor will decide the amount of vitamin B12 injections of sublingual tabs you need in order to get well, but many patients experience a speedier and fuller recovery with the addition of over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12 supplements, as well.
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Like this? Read more:
Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid- What’s the Connection?
B Vitamins prevent Cardiovascular Disease- B6, B12 and Folate
Heart Disease and Homocysteine
High Homocysteine … A Risk to Your Heart?
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