What does it mean to have high homocysteine levels?

Symptoms of dizziness, tingling limbs and pale skin are often identified as a vitamin B and folic acid deficiency. If you have visited a doctor with such symptoms, they would most likely send you for blood tests to check your homocysteine levels.

But what are homocysteine levels, and can you prevent hyperhomocysteinemia?

Explaining homocysteine

Our livers are responsible for breaking down proteins through the food we consume. During the breakdown process, an amino acid named homocysteine is produced. Homocysteine is an atherogenic amino acid; this means that it plays a major role in the development of atherosclerotic plaque and the narrowing of the arteries.

So, when these acids are not properly metabolised, it builds up in the body and acts as a toxin. High or elevated homocysteine levels may even cause arterial damage and blood clots in your blood vessels. With our bodies pumping around 5 litres of blood per minute, the importance of arterial health is vital to help to protect our bodies, lowering the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 and folic acid deficiency?

If you experience any of the following symptoms, you are likely to have a deficiency in vital vitamins. Visit your doctor or health care provider for guidance if you are unsure of your symptoms.

  • Pale or yellowish skin
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue, shortness of breath or dizziness
  • Tingling sensation (like pins and needles) in the hands, arms, legs, or feet.
  • Mouth sores or tongue swelling
  • Mood changes
  • Growth problems
  • Irregular heartbeat

What are the risks associated with high homocysteine levels?

Elevations above normal level (between 15-30 mcmol/L) are generally considered to be a deficiency in vitamin B12 or folic acid, leading to hyperhomocysteinemia. The dangers of this may include:

  • Increased risk for blood clots
  • Increased risk for cardiovascular disease
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Increased risk for depression

How can I manage high homocysteine levels?

It is entirely possible to lower elevated homocysteine levels with a few lifestyle changes. Small additions to your diet can easily aid in taking in more vitamin B rich foods. Some of the best examples of these foods are:

  • Green vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Beans

A fantastic alternative way to address this deficiency is to supplement with good quality B-Complex products.

Obtain professional advice from your doctor or health care provider if you have been diagnosed with hyperhomocysteinemia to ensure that you have the best chance to a happy, healthy lifestyle.

Zinplex B-Complex contains all the required supplements in vitamin B and folic acid, currently retailing for R46,95 at your local pharmacy.