Homocysteine Levels and Cognitive Function: Are They Related?

Could your lack of vitamins be the problem with your thinking? Research suggests that people who have high homocysteine concentrations and low levels of B vitamins are susceptible to a decrease in cognitive function as well as heart related diseases. Homocysteine, dubbed as “the new cholesterol”, is an amino acid. It is a natural byproduct of digesting dairy, fish and animal proteins. Excessive levels can cause a plethora of problems such as stroke, heart attacks and Alzheimer’s. High homocysteine levels have also been associated with depression, dementia, cancer, neural tube disorders in a fetus, along with a host of other disorders.

Medical specialists report that your blood can range from 5 to 15 micromoles per liter of blood but that anything higher than 6 is considered unhealthy and can increase your risks of coronary artery disease tremendously. An average American usually has a level of 10 micromoles per liter of blood. This is 50% above a normal low-risk level.

Folate, B12 and B6 are important vitamins that can help reduce your levels of homocysteine and improve your mood and your thinking process. This is especially important for the elderly who suffer a decrease in cognitive function and for anyone who is prone to coronary artery disease from their family history.

People at high risk are strongly advised to get enough folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 in their diet to help reduce the factors leading to high levels of homocysteine in the blood. Foods high in folic acid include green, leafy vegetables and grain products fortified with folic acid.

A study published in the 1960’s indicated that there was a connection between disturbed one-carbon metabolism and depression. Other data has been published since then but the studies on depression related to vitamin deficiency and high levels of homocysteine have generally been ignored. Newer studies are finding that patients with high levels of B vitamins have been shown to suffer less from depression than the patients who were deficient in those vitamins. Some doctors indicate that adding these supplements to the diets of patients being treated for depression show a significant improvement in their mood and homocysteine levels.

I for one can attest to the wonderful results of upping my B vitamins. My thoughts are a lot clearer and my memory is better. Not great, but better.

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