Are B Vitamins the Answer?
Homocysteine is the new buzzword popping up in discussions about possible predictors of stroke, coronary heart disease, and peripheral vascular disease. Homocysteine is an amino acid derivative of the amino acid cysteine.
Many epidemiological studies have shown that too much homocysteine in the blood (specifically the plasma portion) is related to a higher risk of cardiovascular events and atherosclerosis (the plaquing of the arteries). So how does one collect so much homocysteine in the blood that it can result in such serious health risks?
The answer is simple: Diet, Lifestyle, and Chronic Stress
A major factor contributing to an increase of homocysteine in the blood is a deficiency of three different, yet co-dependent, B vitamins:
Stress has long been known to deplete the body of B vitamins (and vitamin C), so this isn’t really a big surprise. And when we add poor diet choices to a sedentary lifestyle, the deficiency only worsens. This then sets off a chain of symptoms that ultimately lead to diseases such as:
- Chronic fatigue
- Heart Palpitations
- And course, pain syndromes
Compound this with prescribed pharmaceuticals, which also deplete the body of vital nutrients, and is it any wonder that cardiovascular disease is now the number one cause of death from a health condition (or should I say, Disease Condition) in the USA?
Strangely enough (or maybe not so strange) if you read Big Pharma Wants Vitamin B6 Banned, you will see how the FDA and pharmaceutical companies want to ban vitamin B6 from the market, only to rename it as a drug to be sold only by prescription! By eliminating access to this vital nutrient, and with our food so nutrient depleted, over-processed, and full of chemicals, what are the chances that cardiovascular events will continue to increase? However, further increasing the sales of even more pharmaceutical drugs does seem highly likely!
Talk about irony!
The Irony Grows Even Bigger
Let’s talk about how homocysteine levels in the blood rise.
In order for the body to process homocysteine, it first must be converted to methionine (an essential amino acid), and this requires an enzyme called methionine synthase. But guess what, methionine synthase requires vitamin B12. If your vitamin B12 levels are low, this means that a vitamin B12 deficiency can be indirectly responsible for elevated homocysteine levels in the blood.
With an estimated 10 to 20% of Americans clinically vitamin B12 deficient, and with an unknown amount of people “sub-clinically” or borderline deficient, why isn’t more attention being given to this correlation?
Not only do we have a society who is malnourished and overweight, but we also have societal-induced and self-induced high levels of stress! And as already mentioned, stress depletes B vitamins from the body.
Interestingly, there is one other major issue that is significantly related to the absorption of B vitamins. Gastrointestinal problems! And when you are under constant stress, and/or eat poorly, it’s no secret that your digestive system will be affected. In fact, it is such a problem that entire aisles in the grocery stores and drug stores are dedicated to just gastrointestinal issues! And with gastrointestinal issues, comes the inability to absorb nutrients, especially B vitamins – and particularly vitamin B12!
What a cycle!
A Quick Word About Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
It is recommended that folic acid is used as a prenatal vitamin to prevent neural tube defects of the unborn child.
Besides that, hardly a mention other than the minuscule amount suggested in the RDA, unless we are talking about anemia. Anemia is most commonly the result of a deficiency of folic acid, vitamin B12 or iron.
So, based on what we know, it’s easy to make a connection between:
- Anemia and cardiovascular events, and/or
- Gastrointestinal issues and cardiovascular events, and/or
- Stress and cardiovascular events.
It is very simple to make the corrections to prevent AND reduce homocysteine levels.
By correcting the deficiencies earlier on!
And that’s the true meaning of prevention!