If you’ve read some of the past issues of Balance Point, you know that cholesterol is not the primary problem when it comes to heart health.
In fact the most recent research points to inflammation as a much more likely culprit. And it’s not only a factor in heart disease, but also in diabetes, cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. This makes reducing inflammation and the causes of inflammation crucial for your longevity and quality of life.
This is actually a very rich field to explore, however today I want to focus on one of the most clear connections between inflammation and cardiovascular disease. That connection is called homocysteine.
What the Heck is Homocysteine?
Homocysteine is created when your body converts the amino acid methionine into cysteine. In other words, for a very brief time when your body is making this conversion, you have more homocysteine in your blood.
I know this may sound a little technical, but here’s the significance of this fact for your health: your likelihood of having a stroke or heart attack is directly related to the levels of homocysteine in your blood.
Your body creates homocysteine as part of the natural metabolism of proteins. The problems show up when this transformation is not completed and you get elevated homocysteine in your blood.
The exact reason for this is still being researched, however the information we have so far shows that one of the direct problems excessive homocysteine creates is inflammatory damage to your blood vessels. This damage eventually leads to heart and circulatory disease.
Why This Is Good News…
This is actually great news. The reason is that you can insure healthy levels of homocysteine – and therefore reduce inflammatory damage to your blood vessels – with 3 simple nutrients. These nutrients are:
- Folic Acid
- Vitamin B-6
- Vitamin B-12
By getting enough of these vitamins you will greatly reduce or eliminate excess homocysteine and the circulatory damage it causes.
Note that taking these nutrients won’t fix damage that may have already occurred. Even so, preventing future damage is a big plus for your quality of life.
How Much Do You Need?
You don’t need huge amounts of these vitamins to get the benefit. If you take a supplement, just make sure it has the following amounts or more:
- Folic Acid – 1 mg
- Vitamin B-6 – 50 mg
- Vitamin B-12 – 500 mcg (.5 mg)
Of course, since these B-vitamins are all water soluble, if you get more than this it’s fine. Your body will just pass through any excess.
I firmly believe that you need nutritional supplements these days to make sure you get everything you need. Modern foods just don’t have the level of nutrition they did 100 years ago. That’s why I encourage my patients to take a whole-food, all-natural multiple vitamin at the very least.
If you take supplements already, check to make sure you are getting at least the above amounts of these three vitamins. If you aren’t taking supplements, consider taking at least a multiple from natural sources. Use the above guidelines to help you choose the best one for you.