Elevated Homocysteine Levels – Increases Cardiovascular Health Risk

There are many factors that should concerned you about your cardiovascular health, and elevated homocysteine levels should be one of them.

Homocysteine is a naturally occurring amino acid that can irritate the lining of your blood vessels, as well as prevent them from expanding. This irritation of the blood vessels as well as not expanding, can decrease blood flow. And at critical times of stress with this decreased blood flow, can dramatically increase your risk of cardiovascular problems.

Homocysteine molecule
                              Effects Of Elevated Homocysteine Levels On The Blood Vessels

When to much of this amino acid builds up in your blood, it’s a sign that your body’s antioxidant system is failing.

An elevated concentration of homocysteine is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, blood clots, and strokes.

High levels are also believed to increase your risk for Alzheimer’s disease, and osteoporosis.

An elevated concentration of homocysteine is also associated with low levels of vitamins B-2, B-6, B-12, and folate, as well as renal disease.

Testing For High Levels Of Homocysteine

Testing For High Levels Of Homocysteine

If you don’t know your homocysteine level, you can have it checked. A simple blood test will give you an accurate reading. This test measures the levels of homocysteine in your blood.

Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used for the test, and other things.

The normal range of homocysteine levels are between 10 to 12 micromoles per liter (mcmol/L).

Higher levels are:

  • Moderate (15 to 30 mcmol/L)
  • Intermediate (30 to 100 mcmol/L)
  • Severe (greater than 100 mcmol/L)

Higher levels, as noted previously could mean that you have a B-vitamin deficiency. And this can put you at a higher risk for coronary artery disease.

 Geisinger Medical Laboratories explains in detail how the test is performed and why.


Test code:
Specimen type:
Preferred collection container:
Alternate Collection Container:
Lavender-top (EDTA) microcollection tube
Specimen required:
1 mL aliquot of plasma; minimum 0.5 mL.
Special notes:
If collecting specimen in microcollection tubes, collect 3 FULL lavender microcollection tubes
Patient preparation:
Fasting is not required, but homocysteine can increase 10 to 15% after a high-protein meal.


Specimen processing instructions:
Place the specimen in a refrigerator or ice bath until the specimen can be centrifuged. Centrifuge the specimen as soon as possible and separate plasma from cells immediately after centrifugation. Aliquot.
Transport temperature:
Refrigerated. Frozen if stability may be exceeded.
Specimen stability:
After separation, stable 14 days at 2-8°C or 6 months at -20°C. Note: Due to the special handling requirements of this test. it cannot be added on to other lavender-top (EDTA) tubes.
Rejection criteria:
Specimen will be rejected if stability limit is exceeded or if specimen is hemolyzed, lipemic, or icteric.


Reference interval:
5-15 µmol/L.
Additional information:
WARNING: Patients taking S-adenosyl-methionine may show falsely elevated levels of homocysteine. Patients taking methotrexate, nicotinic acid, theophylline, nitrous oxide, or L-dopa can have falsely elevated homocystine levels.
CPT code(s):
Note: The billing party has sole responsibility for CPT coding.  Any questions regarding coding should be directed to the payer being billed.  The CPT codes provided by GML are based on AMA guidelines and are for informational purposes only.
Test includes:
Homocysteine value.
Chemiluminescence Immunoassay
Clinical significance:
This diagnostic test is designed to quantitatively measure HCY in EDTA plasma. Such measurement can aid in the diagnosis and treatment of patients suspected of having homocysteinemia or hyperhomocysteinemia.
Doctoral Director(s:)
Harold Harrison M.D.,Ph.D.
Review Date:01/10/2017

How Homocysteine Levels Increase In The Body

How Homocysteine Levels Increase In The Body

Normal metabolic processes that occur in the body as well as external forces are constantly producing free radicals, which are unstable forms of oxygen, also called oxidants.

The pace at which you age depends in large part on your body’s ability to protect its tissues against these free radicals. High homocysteine significantly increases free-radical oxidation in your body and the damage that comes with it.

Homocysteine levels increase in the body when the metabolism to cysteine of methionine to cysteine is impaired.

This can be due to dietary deficiencies in vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, and folate.

Vitamin B-12 deficiency also known as Pernicious anemia, is a type of anemia that’s caused by the body’s inability to absorb vitamin B-12 from the gut.

Symptoms take many years to appear, and when they do you may experience clumsiness, lack of coordination, and personality changes.

Other factors that can contribute to high homocysteine levels include:

  • Insufficient betaine and magnesium
  • Prescription drug – including: cholestyramine, colestipol, fenofibrate, levodopa, metformin, methotrexate, niacin, nitrous oxide, pemetrexed, phenytoin, and sulfasalazine
  • High-methionine diet which includes red meat and dairy products
  • Smoking
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Advancing age
  • Obesity
  • Genetic variant that causes an inability to metabolize folic acid to its active form

How To Naturally Lower Your Homocysteine Levels

How To Naturally Lower Your Homocysteine Levels

The optimal currently accepted range for homocysteine levels is <15 µmol/L, though some medical professionals believe it should be <8 µmol/L.

Homocysteine levels and health status
Lowering your elevated levels of homocystrine can be done with dietary and lifestyle changes.

Lifestyle changes that can help to lower your homocysteine levels include:

  • Avoid methionine-rich foods like red meat and dairy products
  • Exercise – some studies have reported that patients in a cardiac rehabilitation programs showed a reduction in homocysteine from exercise alone
  • Decrease or eliminate alcohol and smoking

Dietary interventions include:

foods and exercise lower homocysteine levels

B vitamins: The active form of folate, L-methylfolate, can achieve plasma folate levels up to 700% higher than synthetic folic acid and therefore may be more effective at lowering homocysteine levels. Also include vitamins B-6 and B-12.

Betaine (TMG) and Choline: Higher intakes of TMG and choline, which converts to TMG in the body, are related to lower circulating homocysteine concentrations.

N-acetyl L-cysteine (NAC): NAC may displace homocysteine from its protein carrier, which lowers homocysteine and promotes the formation of cysteine and glutathione, a powerful antioxidant.

S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe): Supplementing with SAMe promotes the conversion of homocysteine to cysteine, which is then converted to glutathione and lowers homocysteine levels. Find the SAMe supplement here: Jarrow SAM-e 400 mg-30 Tablets

Taurine: Research suggests taurine can block methionine absorption, which converts to homocysteine in the body, and can produce a significant decline in homocysteine levels in 4 weeks. Find the taurine supplement here: NOW Foods Taurine 500 mg-100 Capsules

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