Homocysteine is produced as part of the body’s methylation process and is used to make protein and maintain tissue. In healthy cells homocysteine is quickly converted to other products, but build up of homocysteine in the blood can increase the risk of stroke, heart disease, and even Alzheimer’s. Homocysteine blood test levels have been found to be a better measure of risk for cardiovascular disease, especially in older people, than conventional factors such as smoking, cholesterol or raised blood pressure. Raised homocysteine blood test levels are also linked to Alzheimer’s, dementia, declining memory, poor concentration and judgment and lowered mood.
The complex metabolism of homocysteine depends on vitamin B12, folate and vitamin B6, and deficiencies in these vitamins can lead to raised homocysteine blood test levels. Other factors thought to raise homocysteine levels are poor diet, poor lifestyle (especially smoking and high coffee and alcohol intake), some prescription drugs (such as proton pump inhibitors), diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and poor thyroid function. Many people can lower their homocysteine blood test levels through changing their diet, in particular by reducing their protein intake and increasing their intake of B vitamins.
Elevated homocysteine blood test levels are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and may also be elevated in cases of malnutrition or vitamin B12 or folate deficiency.
An amino acid normally present in very small amounts in all cells of the body. Homocysteine is a product of methionine metabolism - one of the 11 ‘essential’ amino acids that must be derived from the diet.
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Fast from all food and drink other than water for at least 8 hours, and no more than 12 hours prior to your test.