July 7, 2010

Stop homocysteine from stealing your memory

I've told you in the past that high homocysteine levels put you at greater risk of Alzheimer's disease. I've also told you many ways to reduce your homocysteine levels. These include vitamins B6 and B12, folate, and green tea. But now there's a new study that says reducing your intake of an essential amino acid might help.

In the study, researchers divided a group of seven-month-old mice into two groups. They fed one group a diet rich in the amino acid methionine. They fed the second group a control diet of normal methionine.

At 15 months, the researchers tested the mice for brain plaque. (Fifteen months for mice is the equivalent of 70 human years.) The high methionine group had higher homocysteine and also 40% more brain plaques. They also tested lower in cognitive skills.

Why is a high methionine diet linked to higher homocysteine levels? Your body can easily convert methionine to homocysteine. So the more you eat, the higher your homocysteine.

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You'll find methionine largely in animal protein, including red meat, fish, dairy, and eggs. There are vegetable sources, but they have far less methionine. These include garlic, lentils, onions, and seeds.

If you have high homocysteine, and it doesn't respond to the supplements I mentioned earlier (and SAMe, betaine and choline), you might consider a sharp dietary move away from animal protein. A diet that's less dense in methionine will help you keep your memory for years to come.

Ref: Health & Medicine, December 16, 2009 - 11:23.

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