What is Homocysteine?
Homocysteine is a toxic, non-protein amino acid produced naturally by the body when it digests protein. More specifically, it is produced when methionine, an essential amino acid acquired mostly from eating red meat, is metabolised in the body.
In the general population, a mildly elevated plasma level of homocysteine is a common condition. There are many factors, listed below, that can cause such elevated levels, which in turn may lead to various health problems ranging from cardiovascular disease to the development of Alzheimer's disease or cancer.
What causes elevated Homocysteine levels?
Normally the body would immediately convert homocysteine to a harmless substance, however there are numerous factors that can cause the levels of homocysteine in our blood to rise, including genetic factors and certain lifestyle choices. The major causes of elevated plasma homocysteine (known as hyperhomocysteinemia) are as follows:
• The Genetic link: The enzyme (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase enzyme or MTHFR as it is known) that supplies the folate needed to convert homocysteine to a harmless substance may be genetically altered. This would then result in elevated homocysteine levels and reduced folate levels.
Folic acid supplementation will boost circulating levels of folic acid to assist with the metabolism of homocysteine thus reducing plasma levels of homocysteine.
It is currently estimated that up to 15% of the population could suffer from hyperhomocysteinemia as a consequence of this MTHFR gene mutation.
• The body's levels of plasma homocysteine increase in tandem with the progression of the aging process. 30% of elderly people (male and female) have elevated homocysteine levels.
• Poor diet and vitamin deficiencies:
• A diet rich in animal protein may result in hyperhomocysteinemia.
• Poor vitamin intake – particularly Folic acid, Vitamin B 6 and Vitamin B 12 . These vitamins are required for the metabolism of homocysteine. If the intake of these vitamins is insufficient, homocysteine levels will rise.
• Lack of exercise.
• There are many disease states that elevate homocysteine levels, for example, sickle-cell anaemia and hypothyroidism. Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 patients generally exhibit elevated homocysteine levels.
• Smoking, alcohol and caffeine consumption.
• Many commonly prescribed medications, including certain cholesterol lowering medications and anti-ulcerant drugs can elevate plasma homocysteine levels.
• Excessive psychological stress.
What effect does high homocysteine levels have on the body? The toxic effects of excess homocysteine.
Numerous research studies conducted over the past 10 years have provided ample evidence highlighting the many toxic effects of elevated plasma homocysteine. As a consequence of the volume of research there is increasing agreement in the medical world that measuring homocysteine blood levels, and taking action to manage elevated levels, is potentially lifesaving.
The research to-date has established the following toxic effects of excess homocysteine:
• Cardiovascular disease.
• Hyperhomocysteinemia is a major cause of atherosclerosis. As many as 47% of symptomatic atherosclerosis patients have elevated homocysteine levels.
• Hyperhomocysteinemia is closely associated with the risk of heart attack and stroke. It has been estimated that 40% of all heart attacks and strokes are caused by elevated homocysteine levels.
• Excessive homocysteine increases the risk of abnormal blood clotting.
• Hyperhomocysteinemia is a risk factor for certain types of cancer and is a new potential tumor marker.
• Homocysteine is a neurotoxic amino acid and elevated levels have been linked to:
• Onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease and dementia in the elderly.
• Memory impairment
• Mental retardation
• Most recently, research studies have shown a definite link between high homocysteine levels and the development of osteoporosis.
• Elevated homocysteine increases the risk of miscarriage during pregnancy and also increases the risk of neural tube defects in newborns.
How can homocysteine levels be lowered and effectively maintained?
Fortunately, homocysteine levels can be reduced safely and maintained effectively at normal levels simply by using the correct combination of nutrients, vitamins and minerals as contained in Cytrol-H .
Research has shown that a combination of the important B-complex vitamins (Folic acid, Vitamin B 6 and Vitamin B 12 ) and the nutrient Betaine effectively lowers homocysteine levels and helps to maintain normal blood levels. By taking Cytrol-H one is therefore helping to protect oneself from potentially life threatening medical conditions.
Testing one's homocysteine levels.
With the growing body of evidence indicating that measuring blood levels of homocysteine could be a potentially lifesaving test it would appear that, within the next few years, having our homocysteine checked will be as common as having our cholesterol levels tested.
You can check your homocysteine levels by means of a simple blood test – all you need to do is visit your doctor or go directly to your nearest pathology laboratory. Your homocysteine reading should be 10 mmol/litre or less. If it is above this value then one should start taking 2 Cytrol-H tablets per day, with your evening meal, in order to reduce the homocysteine levels. It is recommended that you then recheck your homocysteine levels after 2 – 3 months and, once the reading shows levels of 10 mmol/litre or less, then you should take 1 Cytrol-H tablet per day to maintain healthy homocysteine levels. Even if your initial reading is below 10 mmol/liter it is recommended that one takes 1 Cytrol-H tablet per day to help maintain healthy homocysteine levels.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like, waxy substance that is found in your bloodstream, in all your body's cells and in many of the foods that you eat. What we seldom realise is that cholesterol plays some vitally important roles in the body, including the formation and maintenance of cell membranes (helps the cell to resist changes in temperature and protects and insulates nerve fibers) and the production of some important hormones, such as progesterone, testosterone and oestradiol. Cholesterol is therefore necessary to maintain good health. But too much cholesterol causes a build up in the body that can lead to serious cardiovascular problems.
What causes elevated Cholesterol levels?
When you go for a cholesterol test, the doctor is checking your blood cholesterol level. About 85% of your blood cholesterol is produced by the body whilst the other 15% comes from your diet. Foods that contain cholesterol include meat, poultry, fish, seafood and dairy products. Foods that contain saturated fats also cause the body to make more cholesterol.
Your body will utilise the cholesterol it needs but the level of cholesterol already present in your blood can be increased by consumption of foods high in cholesterol and saturated fats. High consumption of dietary cholesterol can increase blood cholesterol to dangerous levels, which in turn increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Other risk factors for high cholesterol include:
• A family history of elevated cholesterol – high cholesterol can be inherited.
• Cholesterol levels increase with age.
• Women typically have lower cholesterol than men. However, at the time of entering menopause, a woman's LDL cholesterol increases and the risks associated with elevated cholesterol then become the same as for men.
• Overweight people generally have high cholesterol levels.
• Lack of exercise can contribute to raising cholesterol levels.
• Smoking, stress and alcohol consumption have all been associated with increased cholesterol levels.
What effect does elevated cholesterol have on the body?
Cholesterol and other fats cannot dissolve in the blood and they have to be transported to and from the cells by carriers known as lipoproteins. There are 2 kinds of lipoprotein: Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), known as the “bad” cholesterol and High-density lipoprotein (HDL), known as the “good” cholesterol.
The bad carrier, LDL cholesterol, carries cholesterol from the liver to the cells. Too much LDL cholesterol can clog the arteries (known as atherosclerosis – the build up of plaques that can narrow or block blood vessels). If the coronary arteries of the heart become blocked, a heart attack can occur. The blocked artery can also develop rough edges. This can cause plaques to break off and travel, obstructing blood vessels in other parts of the body. For example, a blocked blood vessel in the brain can trigger a stroke.
Your body, however, produces HDL cholesterol for your protection as it carries cholesterol away from your arteries. HDL cholesterol returns the cholesterol to the liver for breakdown and excretion from the body. Research shows that it is desirable to have high HDL levels and low LDL levels.
Cholesterol level guidelines
Total cholesterol below 5 mmol/liter.
HDL cholesterol more than 0.9 mmol/liter.
LDL cholesterol below 3 mmol/liter.
Borderline to High
Total cholesterol 5 - 7.5 mmol/liter.
LDL cholesterol 3 – 5 mmol/liter.
Total cholesterol 7.5 mmol/liter or higher.
LDL cholesterol higher than 5 mmol/liter.
How can Cholesterol levels be lowered and effectively maintained?
To help lower and maintain healthy cholesterol levels one needs to eat a healthy diet (decrease intake of saturated fat as found in meat and full cream dairy products and limit dietary cholesterol intake), maintain an ideal body weight, exercise regularly, limit intake of alcohol, stop smoking and attempt to reduce stress levels.
Cytrol-H has been scientifically developed to help lower elevated Homocysteine and Cholesterol levels and, once that has been achieved, to help maintain healthy blood levels.
Why is it so crucial for us all to maintain healthy Homocysteine and Cholesterol levels? Here are some facts and statistics:
• 1 in every 4 women is at risk of heart