Homocysteine is a common amino acid in your blood. You get it mostly from eating meat. High levels of it are linked to early development of heart disease.
In fact, a high level of homocysteine is a risk factor for heart disease. It’s associated with low levels of vitamins B6, B12, and folate, as well as renal disease. Research has shown, however, that getting your homocysteine levels down with vitamins doesn’t reduce your chance of having heart disease.
Why is Homocysteine Associated with a Higher Risk of Heart Disease?
Doctors aren't sure how. They’re also not certain if your chance of having heart and blood vessel disease goes up if your homocysteine level is high. There does appear to be a relationship between high levels of homocysteine and artery damage. That can lead to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and blood clots.
Do I Need to Have My Homocysteine Level Checked?
There’s no universal recommendation for checking homocysteine levels. The test is still relatively expensive, it isn't widely available, and insurance rarely covers it.
Can High Homocysteine Levels Be Prevented?
If you have high homocysteine levels, talk to your doctor about how to change your diet.