Homocysteine is an amino acid in the blood.
While most amino acids found in the body are building blocks of protein or muscle, homocysteine is formed as an intermediate step in the production of another amino acid, methionine. The production of methionine requires a number of vitamins. When these vitamins are in short supply, the level of homocysteine in the blood rises, increasing the odds of developing plaque in the arteries—a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
Research shows that folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 can help reduce levels of this heart-harming compound. Talk with your doctor about getting your levels of homocysteine checked.
Boushey CJ, et al. A quantitative assessment of plasma homocysteine as a risk factor for vascular disease: probable benefits of increasing folic acid intakes. JAMA. 1995;274:1049-1057.Mayer EL, Jacobsen DW, and Robinson K. Homocysteine and coronary atherosclerosis. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 1996;27:517-527.The Homocysteine Studies Collaboration. Homocysteine and risk of ischemic heart disease and stroke: a meta-analysis. JAMA. 2002;288:2015-2022. Wald DS, Law M, Morris JK. Homocysteine and cardiovascular disease: evidence on causality from a meta-analysis. BMJ. 2002;325:1202-1206. Wilson PWF. Homocysteine and Coronary Heart Disease: How Great is the Hazard? JAMA. 2002;288:2042-2043.