Wellness Pathway #268 More on Homocysteine

A few weeks ago I wrote a Wellness Pathway, Get Yourself Checked, that encouraged you to find out your homocysteine level as part of your next routine physical. Homocysteine is an amino acid that is produced in the body as we process dietary protein. Excess consumption of protein, especially animal protein, insufficient supplies of B-vitamins and methyl donors, and genetic deficiencies can all lead to elevated homocysteine levels in your blood.

What’s wrong with that? A lot. Homocysteine is an independent risk factor cardiovascular disease as well as other chronic diseases including stroke, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. Fortunately, most people can bring their homocysteine levels into the optimal range with modest lifestyle changes and the consumption of supplemental B-vitamins and methyl donors. High homocysteine is one of the easiest problems to fix.

But not if you don’t know it’s problem and not if you don’t understand its importance as having a direct effect on the cells and tissues of the arteries. I was therefore distressed to read in the past week two separate reports on heart health, one in a special edition of Newsweek magazine and the other in the July issue of Consumer Reports on Health, that fail to even mention homocysteine in their reviews of current research.

This failure is par for the course when it comes to the history of homocysteine research and recommendations. Cholesterol, triglycerides, and C-reactive protein are the darlings of modern medicine. And, in fact, we need to keep an eye on them as well. But to ignore homocysteine is to leave an important player out of the puzzle.

No one can responsibly argue that any of the following do not play a role in cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases: fats (cholesterol and triglycerides), inflammation (CRP), sugar (insulin resistance), and amino acids (homocysteine).

Fortunately, many of the recommendations for any one of these are the same for the recommendations of all the others. We cannot expect to fight the “diseases of civilization” unless we maintain an optimal weight, get more exercise, eat less saturated fats, stop smoking, minimize our consumption of caffeine and alcohol, and control our blood pressure. These things are essential to health and wellness.

But of the four factors (fats, inflammation, sugar, and amino acids), only homocysteine is specifically targeted by our consumption of B-vitamins and methyl donors. And for many people, whether it has to do with genetics or food quality, diet alone is not sufficient to bring our homocysteine level down to within the optimal range (below 6 micromoles/liter of blood plasma). For us, we need to supplement our diets with Folic Acid, B12, B6, B2, Zinc, Magnesium, and TMG (trimethylglycine).

Within months of adequate supplementation, most people can lower their risk and get themselves in or close to the optimal range. This does not substitute for any of the other lifestyle recommendations. We all need to keep an eye on our weight, nutrition, fitness, and stress. But to ignore homocysteine is to ignore one of the easiest risk factors for most people to control.

Coaching Inquiries: Do you know your homocysteine level? Do you you know how to keep your homocysteine level in check? Is your doctor up to speed and cooperative in checking and, if necessary, reducing your homocysteine level? How committed are you to eating, exercising, and relaxing in ways that promote health and wellness?

For more information, read The H Factor Solution by James Braly and Patrick Holford.

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To learn more about our Wellness Coaching programs and to arrange for a complimentary wellness coaching session, use our Contact Form or Email Bob.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

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