Seven Steps to Keep Your Homocysteine Low - Food for the Brain

Seven Steps to Keep Your Homocysteine Low

The most powerful and quickest way to restore a normal Hcy score, below 7 mcmol/l, if you’ve tested and found your level is above 10, is to supplement specific homocysteine-lowering nutrients. These include vitamins B6, B12, folic acid, trimethylglycine (TMG) and zinc, as well as glutathione or n-acetyl cysteine (NAC).

Combinations of these nutrients are especially effective because nutrients work together in synergy, not in isolation. One study found homocysteine scores were reduced by 17 per cent on high-dose folic acid alone, 19 per cent on vitamin B12 alone, 57 per cent on folic acid plus B12, and 60 per cent on folic acid, B12 and B6. All this was achieved
in three weeks!

Some companies produce combinations of these nutrients. These are the most cost-effective supplements for restoring a healthy homocysteine level. The inclusion of N-acetyl cysteine (or it’s cousin glutathione) is particularly important in older people when memory protection is the aim. This is because this vital antioxidant helps the methylation B vitamins to protect brain function.

The best results of all occur when you combine supplements with diet and lifestyle changes. Chris K is a case in point. Chris had been feeling very unwell, with constant tiredness, worsening memory and concentration, and little zest for life. He was depressed, had no sex drive and felt brain dead. His homocysteine score was 119! He changed his diet and took homocysteine-lowering nutrients and, within three months, his homocysteine level dropped to 19. After 6 months it had dropped to 11. After a year it had dropped to 9. He cannot believe how well he now feels. His memory and concentration are completely restored. He has boundless energy from 6 am until 10pm. He now exercises for an hour every day and has lost weight. ‘You have saved my life, or at least made it worth living again. I’m a new man and my love life has perked up,’ says Chris.

Read this Report Supplementation to normalise homocysteine levels or turn relevant section into a report in the Library showing the amount of nutrients, and the supplements available depending on your homocysteine level.

If you don’t know your homocysteine level we’ll be letting you know how to test it in a couple of days. But first, we’d like to ‘warm you up’ to make some simple changes that are likely to bring your homocysteine into the normal range. After all, it’s better to test yourself at your best, not your worst.

Here are eight easy changes that will help to lower your homocysteine level:

1. Eat enough fish, eggs, meat, or milk for B12

Eat no more than three servings of lean meat a week; fish (ideally not fried) at least three times a week; six eggs a week; some dairy products, perhaps unsweetened, natural yoghurt, provided you’re not intolerant. All of these are sources of vitamin B12. You don’t need all of these all the time but try to have something every day that gives you vitamin B12. It does store in the body, so if you have a couple of vegan days a week that’s fine too. Fish and eggs are possibly the best food sources so if you’re pescatarian that’s perfect. (If you’re vegan you’ll need to supplement B12. You’ll receive an email about this shortly.) Some people are poor absorbers of vitamin B12. We will go into this in case it might apply to you.

2. Eat your greens and beans

Have at least five, ideally seven, servings of fruit or vegetables a day. This means eating one to two pieces of fruit every single day, and three to four servings of non-starchy vegetables. Vary your selections from day to day. Make sure half of what’s on your plate for each main meal is vegetables. That counts for two servings already.

3. Have a clove of garlic a day

Either eat a clove of garlic a day, or take a garlic supplement every day. You can take garlic oil capsules or powdered garlic supplements. Garlic helps lower homocysteine.

4. Cut back on coffee

Don’t drink more than four cups of coffee in a day. Even two cups raises your homocysteine but 6 or more cups is strongly linked to doubling dementia risk and promoting brain shrinkage. Too much coffee promotes loss of B vitamins. Coffee has some ‘antioxidant/polyphenol’ advantages which might explain why abstainers has a slightly worse risk for dementia than those who have one or two coffees a day. One double expresso counts as two coffees.

5. Limit your alcohol

Limit your alcohol intake to no more than half a pint of beer, or one glass of red wine, in a day. Ideally, limit your intake to two pints of beer or seven small glasses of red wine a week. Once your intake is above this, your risk is increasing.

6. Reduce your stress

If you are under a lot of stress, or find yourself reacting stressfully much of the time, make the decision to reduce your stress load by changing both the circumstances that are giving you stress and your attitude. There are lots of simple solutions, for example: you can practice yoga, meditation and/or exercise (there are lots of free online resources and classes), or see a practitioner of talking therapies if you have some issues to resolve. These steps can make all the difference. We’ll go into this area in much more details in the ‘sleep and calm’ domain.

7. Stop smoking

If you smoke, make the decision to stop and seek help to do it. There is simply no safe level of smoking as far as homocysteine and your health is concerned. Even those who reduce from 20 to 5 a day, which is good, still have raised homocysteine. The sooner you stop the healthier you become and the longer you’ll live. We’ll help you when you focus on the ‘antioxidant’ domain.

8. Avoid medication (if possible) than interferes with B12 absorption

This includes antacid drugs called ‘proton pump inhibitors’ (PPIs) with their drug name often ending in ‘azole’; metformin for diabetes; and diuretic drugs. We are going to tackle this directly in another email. Don’t change your medication without speaking with your doctor first.

9. Supplement a high-strength multivitamin every day

Excellent quality multivitamins and mineral combinations are available in every health food store and some supermarkets. To keep your homocysteine levels in check, you’ll need one that gives at least 20mg of B6, 200mcg of folic acid and 10mcg of B12. Basic ‘RDA’ multivitamins aren’t going to be enough. The officially recommended intake for B12 is only 2.5mcg and 2mg for B6. These have not been calculated considering mental health, dementia prevention and optimising methylation.

This diet, lifestyle and supplement plan has the potential to substantially reduce your homocysteine score in weeks. The goal is to bring your score to below 7. Your homocysteine score is probably the best objective measure of whether you are achieving optimum nutrition for you. We’ll show you how to test it shortly.