Thursday, September 18, 2008

Homocysteine, Alzheimers, and Cerebrovascular Disease

Elevated homocysteine is generally regarded as an indicator that all is not well with our health. The vitamins B6, B12, and folate are crucial regulators of homocysteine levels. Anyone interested in maintaining optimal health must ensure that they have adequate intake of these nutrients. It is important to remember that some individuals experience very poor absorption of B12 and injections of B12 may be required. Symptoms of B12 deficiency are pernicious anaemia and fatigue. In particular, elderly people have may B12 absorption problems. A study reported in the eMJA found that many older Australians have B12 deficiency. Vegetarians can also experience B group deficiencies which goes some way to explaining why vegetarians, in spite of a low fat diet, are susceptible to cardiovascular disease.

Those experiencing chronic fatigue syndrome may benefit from injections of B12. Anyone with cardiovascular disease or a history of anaemia needs to carefully monitor their intake of B6, B12, and folate. It is a good idea to periodically have your homocysteine levels checked. If elevated, a B group supplement is advisable but it is far preferable that a good diet rich in these nutrients is followed all the time.

If you are experiencing ongoing fatigue that cannot be explained then consider the possibility that you are experiencing a deficiency in these nutrients. Because such a deficiency is so damaging to our health it is advisable to start taking a B group supplement immediately but much more importantly you should simultaneously change your diet to make sure you are receiving an adequate supply of these nutrients.

This recent study highlights why it is important to immediately address any suspected deficiency in these nutrients. The importance of immediate intervention is further highlighted in this mice study published in the PNAS. A vitamin B deficient diet for as little as ten weeks induced elevated homocysteine, neurodegeneration, and loss of capillaries.

Sources of B6:

Beef liver(warning: be careful of consuming too much beef liver because of the very high vitamin A levels)
Chicken Breast
kidney beans
dairy products

Sources of B12:

chicken breast
Tuna, canned in water
Corn kernels
Dairy products
red meat, poultry, and fish

Sources of folate:

Asparagus, Bran flakes, Broccoli, Spinach
Oranges, peas, wheatgerm
Bee liver
Collard greens
spinach, raw
peanuts, dry roasted
wholewheat bread

Note: pregnant women need to be particularly careful to maintain good folate levels.

No comments: