Homocysteine and the Atherosclerotic Process
Homocysteine is an amino acid produced by the body that is involved in the metabolism of other amino acids.
Why is Homocysteine dangerous?
Homocysteine is toxic to the endothelial cells that line the arteries. It also promotes the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Both factors cause plaque to form in the arteries leading to atherosclerosis.
Can Homocysteine be reduced?
Yes, Another substance, folic acid converts Homocysteine into a harmless amino acid (methionine). In fact, folic acid levels are a good predictor of homocysteine levels. Individuals with low folic acid levels tend to have higher homocysteine levels.
How can you increase Folic acid levels?
Folic acid can be found in a variety of foods but individuals
not getting enough should consider taking a supplement.
Major Dietary sources of Folic Acid
Beans (kidney, pinto, navy) Spinach
This slide reveals the importance of homocysteine as another potential risk factor for coronary heart disease. Like many other risk factors it is somewhat preventable. Individuals eating a large amount of green vegetables and legumes (beans and nuts) are probably getting sufficient amounts but the majority of Americans do not meet the current RDA of 200 ug/day or the USRDA of 400 ug/day).
Because of the importance for reducing homocysteine levels, the FDA has mandated that all enriched grain/cereal products be fortified with folic acid.