If your homocysteine levels are high, you’re at an increased risk for a heart attack. That’s what researchers and doctors alike have said for nearly 50 years.
These medical experts drew this conclusion based on one thing. They were looking at studies that showed how people with heart disease usually had higher levels of homocysteine than those without heart disease.
In those nearly five decades, medical professionals have offered different theories about how homocysteine causes heart disease.
But here’s the truth: No one has ever been able to show that higher homocysteine levels are anything more than an interesting statistic.
As you may know, homocysteine is an amino acid (protein molecule) that’s critical for health. Our bodies use it in a vital process called methylation. If this process doesn’t work right, it can jeopardize every single cellular process in your body.
We also use homocysteine to synthesize another amino acid — glutathione. This is the single most important scavenger of free radicals that our cells have. But for homocysteine to work its wonders, one very important B-vitamin must be present, folic acid.
When cells don’t have an adequate amount of folic acid, they cannot use homocysteine well, and the levels of homocysteine build up.
Studies have shown that taking folic acid supplements results in decreased homocysteine levels. Because of this, many doctors have promoted taking folic acid supplements as a way of lowering homocysteine and thus supposedly preventing heart disease.
However, the problem with this theory is that every randomized controlled study of patients who already have heart disease has shown that taking folic acid does not reduce their risk one bit.
But One Question Still Remained
Could it be valuable in people who did not have heart disease, but did have elevated homocysteine levels? And that’s where a new study comes into the picture.
This study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and seems to finally slam the lid down on all the theories.
The conclusion of the study: Homocysteine is not the evil boogeyman so many people think it is.
In this study, the researchers looked at 819 men and women between the ages of 50-70. All of them were free of heart disease, but had elevated homocysteine levels greater than 13 umol/L.
First, the researchers tested the carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) of all the subjects. The CIMT looks at how thick the inside layer of the carotid arteries is. It’s an easy test to do. And it’s an excellent indicator of how much plaque there is on the arteries. Thus, the CIMT is a good predictor of the likelihood of a heart attack.
They also did an analysis of how flexible the arteries were in each patient. This is another easy test to do. We do it in the clinic. It’s also a good predictor. As arteries become more coated with plaque, they lose their flexibility.
Once they did these initial tests, the researchers gave half of the subjects 800 mcg of folic acid per day. The other half received a placebo.
Then, after three years, they repeated the tests to see if the folic acid was effective. What they were looking to find out was if there really is any connection between high homocysteine levels and heart disease.
Compared with the subjects who took the placebo, the blood levels of folic acid had increased by 577% in those taking the supplement. This is a strong indication that the pills were effective in substantially increasing the amount of folic acid in the cells.
Next, they found that the blood homocysteine levels were 26% lower in those taking the supplements. This shows us that the folic acid supplements were working as advertised. They were significantly lowering homocysteine levels.
Does Lowering Homocysteine Help?
But the real question was this: Did lowering the homocysteine levels do anything to prevent the indicators of impending heart disease? Here are the shocking results.
The results of the CIMT test became worse in both the placebo group and the folic acid group. But the results were 50% worse in the folic acid group!
Despite taking the folic acid and lowering the homocysteine levels, this major risk factor for heart disease worsened anyway.
Not only that, but the arterial flexibility in both groups worsened equally. So much for the value of lowering homocysteine to prevent heart disease.
According to the researchers, “Despite a considerable increase in folic acid concentrations and a reduction in total homocysteine concentrations, three years of folic acid supplementation did not slow down atherosclerotic progression or arterial stiffening.”
So why didn’t it work? If, statistically speaking, people are at a greater risk of developing heart disease when their homocysteine levels are higher, why doesn’t the risk decrease when the homocysteine levels are brought down?
Only One Thing Makes Sense To Me
High homocysteine is only dangerous because it indicates that something is out of balance, not because the homocysteine is harmful in itself. And you cannot correct that imbalance simply by taking folic acid or any other supplement to lower the levels.
I believe the metabolic imbalance is a decreased ability of the cells to efficiently use oxygen. I can say this because of two observations.
First, for the past 10 years, using Bio-Energy Testing, I routinely have measured how well each and every one of my patients uses oxygen. You can learn all you want to know about Bio-Energy Testing on my website. I also talk about it in both of my books, Bursting With Energy and The Type-2 Diabetes Breakthrough. In all the hundreds and hundreds of patients I have examined, I have never seen one patient with optimal oxygen utilization develop any significant atherosclerosis. Not one.
On the other hand, I have never seen one single patient with documented atherosclerosis who had an optimal level of oxygen utilization.
These observations are just too startling to ignore. This is especially true when you keep in mind that one of the common side effects of decreased oxygen utilization is elevated homocysteine levels.
So I conclude that the best way to avoid atherosclerosis and the heart disease that follows is not by lowering homocysteine levels. It is by maintaining an optimum level of oxygen utilization.
You can find a list of the doctors who are offering Bio-Energy testing to their patients at www.bioenergytesting.com. If you are over the 50 hump, you should do yourself a real big favor, and get tested soon. If you’re not utilizing oxygen well, your Bio-Energy doctor can help reverse this problem.
Durga, J., M.L. Bots, E.G. Schouten, D.E. Grobbee, F.J. Kok, and P. Verhoef. “Effect of 3 years of folic acid supplementation on the progression of carotid intima-media thickness and carotid arterial stiffness in older adults.” Am J Clin Nutr, 2011 March 23. [Epub ahead of print]