It is my job as a Nutritional Therapist to establish root causes of why someone’s health and wellbeing is functioning below par. By using diagnostic testing and theories of Functional Medicine, underlying dysfunctions can be recognised and a restorative health plan established.
One of the vitally important statistics to consider is levels of Homocysteine – a raised level is probably one of the biggest factors contributing to many major health issues. Homocysteine is a naturally occuring amino acid found in blood plasma, is made from another amino acid, methionine which is involved in numerous essential biochemical pathways. The complex process of methylation using methyltransferase and B vitamins breaks down homocysteine and creates serotonin, melatonin, dopamine, adrenalie and glutathione to keep the body in balance and free of toxic chemicals. High levels of homocysteine accumulate and become toxic when certain enzymes needed for the body’s biochemical processed aren’t working effectively. This causes not only a greater risk factor for heart disease but is also linked to over 100 other diseases including cancer, alzheimer’s, T2 diabetes, depression and infertility.
Over 50 diseases are linked to high homocysteine. There are many health and modern day lifestyle factors which can potentially raise levels to differing degrees :
- Poor diet
- Obesity / Lack of exercise
- Excess coffee (more than 3 cups per day)
- Low intake of B Vitamins
- Smoking / high alcohol in
- Prescription drugs
- Poor thyroid function
- Age : levels increase with age
- Genetics : (10 – 15% of the population are genetically predisposed)
- T2 Diabetes
- Oestrogen deficiency
- Strict vegans and vegeterians
- Coeliac disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Parkinson’s disease
HOMOCYSTEINE LEVELS AND HEART DISEASE
Higher levels contribute to a serious risk of diabetes, depression, alzheimers, male and female infertility, pregnancy complications and poor concentration and memory. Even low levels contribute to a serious risk of heart attack, blood pressure and stroke. Many medical experts believe that 30 – 40% of all heart attacks and strokes may be the result of elevated homocysteine. Homocysteine levels predict your risk of stroke better than cholesterol levels or blood pressure. It has also been proven that raised levels of insulin as seen in T2 diabetics stops the body from lowering homocysteine.
Homocysteine is a naturally occuring amino acid found in blood plasma, is made from another amino acid, methionine which is involved in numerous essential biochemical pathways. This complex process known as methylation uses methyltransferase and B vitamins to break down homocysteine and create serotonin, melatonin, dopamine, adrenaline and glutathione to keep the body in balance and free of toxic chemicals. High levels of homocysteine accumulate when certain enzymes needed for the body’s biochemical processes aren’t working properly. Methylation-gene mutations, such as MTHFR are closely associated with autoimmunity and migraine.
The optimal range for homocysteine is less than 7 μmol/L. Higher levels, even in early stages and like other serious medical conditions such as high blood pressure and heart attack, can often be symptom free. Unfortunately modern day living and the typical western diet leaves many of us predisposed to various risk factors which raise homocysteine levels. Hence the importance for early diagnostic testing.
REASONS TO CONSIDER DIAGNOSTIC TESTING :
- Do you consume more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day
- Do you consume more than 3 coffees per day
- Do you smoke
- Do you suffer from depression
POSSIBLE SIGNS OF HIGH LEVELS OF HOMOCYSTEINE :
- Persistent tiredness
- Unstable weight
- Pains / migraine
- Persisient colds
- Poor eyesight
- Sleeping difficulties
- Poor memory and cognitive function
Homocysteine testing is being used as a marker for many serious diseases but tested will only be offered by health professionals if the patient is already in poor health.
York Test is the only gold standard finger prick blood test with a facility to seperate blood plasma which allows a much more accurate reading. The test can be carried out in the comfort of the clinic or your own home and tests results are returned within 10 working days. An overnight fast is recommended to also allow for greater accuracy without the interference of other proteins.
Optimum ranges can differ but we can recommend the following readings to be a reasonable guide :
- Normal levels : 7 or below
- Low risk : 7 – 10
- Moderate risk : 10 – 12
- High risk : 12 – 15
- Extreme risk : above 15
Upon receiving the final results, a tailored Nutrition and Supplement Plan best suited to your personal needs is offered. Re-testing is recommended after 3-6 months but on following the dietary and supplemental protocol positive results with lowered levels can be achieved in as little as 3 months.
A prescribed Nutrition and Supplement Plan typically includes certain golden rules of avoiding refined sugars and saturated fats and adopting a mediterranean style diet with a good balance of healthy fats, wholegrain fibre and lean and plant proteins. A tailored supplement plan consists of specific levels of Vitamin B2, B6, B12, Folate, Zinc, Vitamin C and TMG, according to accurately tested homocysteine levels.