Consuming a great variety of foods rich in vitamin B6, folate, and vitamin B12 could significantly reduce elevated homocysteine levels!
High levels of homocysteine are harmful for the body!
Homocysteine is an amino acid which the body naturally produce. But, high concentrations of homocysteine are harmful for the body. They can damage the lining of the arteries, and make blood clot more easily.
Elevated homocysteine levels seem to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, migraines, poor cognitive function, poor memory, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, bone fractures, osteoporosis, birth defects, early miscarriage, and pregnancy complications.[1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8]
What are the normal values of homocysteine?
Normal homocysteine values are between 5 and 12 micromol/L. But, the ideal homocysteine values are between 5 and 7 micromol/L, according to many researchers. Levels higher than 13 micromol/L are considered elevated.[9,10,11]
Hyperhomocysteinemia is when homocysteine levels exceed 15 micromol/L. It’s an independent risk factor for serious medical conditions. Elevated homocysteine levels are categorized into three groups. Moderate (16 to 30 micromol/L), intermediate (31 to 100 micromol/L), and severe (over 100 micromol/L).
Factors such as age, sex, exercise, diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, medication, and diseases can significantly affect homocysteine levels.
What foods can lower high homocysteine levels?
We can naturally lower homocysteine levels through food. Vitamin B6, folic acid (folate or vitamin B9), and vitamin B12 play a key role in the metabolism of homocysteine. Actually, elevated levels of homocysteine are commonly associated with deficiencies of these vitamins.
Getting high doses of these vitamins from food or supplements is the easiest way to return to normal homocysteine values.
According to a study, daily dosages of 400 mcg of folic acid, with 1,000 mcg of vitamin B12 for 6 months reduced homocysteine concentrations by 36%.
Moreover, according to another huge 5-year study, participating more than 5,500 patients, daily administration of vitamin B6, folic acid, and vitamin B12 reduced homocysteine levels significantly. Researchers used daily doses of 2,500 mcg for folic acid, 50 mg for vitamin B6 and 1,000 mcg for vitamin B12. Folic acid is the most important vitamin for lowering homocysteine values. Daily supplementation with 500 to 5,000 mcg typically lowers homocysteine levels by about 25%. Additionally, a daily vitamin B12 dose of at least 400 mcg from supplements further lowers homocysteine levels by about 7%.
As a rule of thumb, consumption of fruits, vegetables, herbs, beans, seeds, and nuts can help lower elevated homocysteine levels.
Foods with vitamin B6 can lower high homocysteine levels
The recommended daily intake of vitamin B6 is 1.3 mg, both for women and men. We can get this dose from dietary sources.
Common foods rich in vitamin B6 are pistachios, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, peanuts, chickpeas, potatoes, banana, avocado, peppers, meat, and fish.
Foods rich in folate for normal homocysteine values
The daily recommended dose for folate is 400 mcg.
Folate is the form of vitamin B9 naturally present in foods. Supplements contain the synthetic form, known as folic acid.
Following a well-balanced diet can provide more than enough folate. Actually, there are many foods rich in folate.
For instance, spinach, turnip greens, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, peanut butter, avocado, broccoli, whole wheat bread, cabbage and banana are common foods containing high amounts of folate!
Vitamin B12 is vital for ideal homocysteine levels
The recommended daily intake for vitamin B12 is only 2.4 mcg for adults.
But, it’s a little tricky to get high doses of vitamin B12 from food alone. In fact, only foods from animal sources contain small doses of vitamin B12. Hence, vegans, vegetarians, and people who follow a plant-based diet are in high risk of being deficient in vitamin B12! There aren’t many common vegan foods with vitamin B12.
Therefore, it’s highly recommended taking vitamin B12 supplements. Even high doses of 1,000 mcg are considered pretty safe.
Certainly, you should consult your physician before taking supplements or changing your diet.
What foods increase homocysteine levels?
Furthermore, you should avoid certain foods, if you have elevated homocysteine levels.
Increased consumption of processed meat, sweets, fat, sugar, and salt seems to increase homocysteine values. Also, fried foods have been linked to elevated homocysteine levels. Mainly, due to increased oil intake and altered nutrients in processed foods.[14,15]