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Posts Tagged ‘vitamin B12 and homocysteine’

Vitamin B12, Homocysteine, and your Heart

Friday, November 9th, 2012



For optimum heart health, check your vitamin B12 and homocysteine levels regularly. That’s correct! Most people understand the importance of exercise and a healthy low-fat diet in preventing heart attacks, but a vast majority are unaware of the link between homocysteine and heart disease, and the important role that vitamin B12 plays in cardiovascular health.

Vitamin B12, Homocysteine, and your Heart- B12 Patch

What is homocysteine?

Homocysteine is an amino acid that your body produces while digesting protein foods such as meat, chicken, and fish (all excellent sources of vitamin B12).

In healthy individuals, homocysteine is broken down immediately and removed from your blood supply with the help of these important nutrients: vitamin B12, folic acid, and vitamin B6.

Elevated levels of homocysteine, or hyperhomocysteinemia, often occurs as a result of vitamin B12 deficiency, in addition to low levels of vitamin B6 and folate.

Without healthy levels of vitamin B12, folate, and vitamin B6, your homocysteine levels will continue to escalate to a dangerous high.

Is homocysteine bad for you?

Scientists have noted high homocysteine levels in people suffering from debilitating health problems involving the heart, blood vessels, and the brain.

High levels of homocysteine is now considered a risk factor for heart disease and blood vessel disease, as researchers confirm a high correlation between heart attacks, stroke and a deficiency in vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and folate.

Homocysteine may be involved in hardening of the arteries, fatty deposits in the peripheral arteries and the formation of dangerous blood clots.

Scientists have also cited a link between high homocysteine and cognitive disorders, such as age-related memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease, noting vitamin B12 deficiency and low folate as factors that often correlate with memory problems in elderly patients with unusually high homocysteine levels.

Researchers believe that many other illnesses may be directly related to low vitamin B12 and high homocysteine, including osteoporosis and problems with pregnancies, such as miscarriages or premature births.

Where does vitamin B12 fit in?

It’s difficult (and expensive) to constantly test for homocysteine levels. Most hospitals don’t offer routine homocysteine screening as part of their cardiovascular health care options.

It’s much easier to regulate homocysteine naturally, by maintaining high levels of vitamin B12, folate, and vitamin B6 at all times.

To find out if you have enough vitamin B12, it’s good to receive a blood screening for vitamin B12 deficiency, especially if you are a high risk for heart disease.

More importantly, though, it’s important to be aware of the all the possible symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, as many of the blood tests for low B12 are inaccurate.

Also read: Why B12 Blood Tests are an Epic Fail

Who gets vitamin B12 deficiency?

Many people are at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency, as it’s one of the leading causes of malnourishment in developed countries such as the US, Europe, and the UK.

Risk factors for vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • Family history for pernicious anemia
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Vegan dieting
  • Illnesses such as fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, or lupus, which cause damage to the stomach linings
  • Bariatric surgery (gastric bypass) or ileostomy
  • Alcoholism
  • Diabetes medications (metformin)
  • GERD medications (PPI’s)

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency

Early warning signs of vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Restlessness
  • Confusion (brain fog)
  • Anxiety
  • Painful tingling, burning, or numbness in the arms, hands, legs, or feet
  • Muscle spasms
  • Eye twitches
  • Sore tongue
  • Difficulty walking without stumbling (gait disturbances)
  • Difficult controlling arm and leg movements
  • Heart palpitations or panting

Also read: Vitamin Deficiency symptoms List

Treating vitamin B12 deficiency

Once diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency, your homocysteine levels will return to normal, and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency will abate, only upon immediate and thorough supplementation of vitamin B12.

Your doctor will decide the amount of vitamin B12 injections of sublingual tabs you need in order to get well, but many patients experience a speedier and fuller recovery with the addition of over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12 supplements, as well.

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Like this? Read more:

Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid- What’s the Connection?

B Vitamins prevent Cardiovascular Disease- B6, B12 and Folate


Heart Disease and Homocysteine

High Homocysteine … A Risk to Your Heart?

Image(s) courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

B12 Deficiency: Don’t Ignore the Symptoms

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011



Vitamin B12 deficiency can start with a few symptoms like tiredness and slight tingling or numbness in hands and feet; ignore the symptoms and low B12 levels could escalate into severe nerve damage, disease or death.


What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?

Below is a list of some of the most common side effects which may arise from insufficient stores of vitamin B12.

(Please note that the severity of the symptoms may vary according to the stage of B12 deficiency.)

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Hallucinations
  • Sleep problems
  • Frailness
  • Imbalance, difficulty walking with coordination
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and/or feet
  • Altered taste perception
  • Heart palpitations
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Also read: B12 Deficiency can really Get on your Nerves

B12 and your body

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient. Therefore, your body is only able to store it for a short time. Vitamin B12 has many important functions in your body.

  • Vitamin B12 is essential for producing plenty of healthy red blood cells and for synthesizing DNA. A lack of B12 severely reduces your body’s ability to make sufficient red blood cells for carrying oxygen throughout your body.
  • Pernicious anemia is a life-threatening condition that is often the cause of vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • Your nervous system is dependent on vitamin B12, which enhances communication between the brain and your many nerve sensors, such as those in your fingertips, feet and mouth. This explains why sufferers of B12 deficiency notice a sensation similar to wearing gloves throughout the day; others report that their food tastes unusual, another clue that the body’s neurons are not operating correctly.
  • A deficiency of vitamin B12 compromises your nervous system and could result in permanent neurological damage.
  • Researchers have found a direct link between vitamin B12 deficiency and brain atrophy among the elderly. In one study which appeared in the Journal of Nutrition, senior citizens who had the highest levels of B12 experienced healthier cognitive functioning skills.
  • Also read Now Eat This: Preventing Age Related Hearing Loss
  • Vitamin B12 helps your body monitor already healthy homocysteine levels, a factor in heart health.

What diseases are associated with B12 deficiency?

There are many illnesses which occur when B12 levels are low; some conditions may be caused by vitamin B12 deficiency, while others are closely correlated. Below are some common illnesses associated with B12 deficiency, including many which most people don’t realize are affected by vitamin B12 levels.

  • Alzheimer’s disease, brain deterioration, cognitive decline, memory loss and other forms of dementia
  • Neurological diseases such as Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Cardiovascular disease, caused by high homocysteine levels
  • Mental illness, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and psychosis
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as AIDS and pernicious anemia
  • Infertility

Eating Your Way Out of Depression with B-12

B12 deficiency is often misdiagnosed

According to a Tufts University study, 40 percent of people between the ages of 26 and 83 have low to medium-low B12 levels, indicating a deficiency severe enough to cause neurological disorder symptoms, while 9 percent are depleted enough to the point of irreversible neurological damage and life-threatening symptoms. Approximately 16 percent are close to becoming vitamin B12 deficient.

Why is vitamin B12 deficiency overlooked?

Only a blood test can properly determine if somebody is suffering from B12 deficiency, and most physicians don’t include a B12 screening with yearly check-ups. Also, many of the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are similar to common health disorders, such as diabetes, chronic depression and fatigue.

How can you get enough B12?

Vitamin B12 is found in many high protein foods. Excellent sources of B12 are:

  • Lean beef cuts, such as chuck and sirloin
  • Poultry
  • Fish, particularly salmon, tuna and halibut
  • Shellfish, including crab meat, mussels, clams and oysters
  • Dairy products, such as swiss cheese, yogurt, milk and cottage cheese
  • Eggs

Vegans are at a high risk for developing vitamin B12 deficiency, as their diet specifically excludes food items which provide vitamin B12. Other people who are at risk of getting B12 deficiency are patients of weight loss surgery, diabetics on metformin, individuals with gastrointestinal disease, people who lack intrinsic factor and anybody taking prescription heartburn medication.

The only way to prevent becoming deficient in vitamin B12 is by constantly replenishing your body with B12-rich nutrients.

Alternatively, patients diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency are encouraged to take vitamin B12 supplements, such as sublingual B12 tablets, B12 shots, or over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12.

Find more information on preventing vitamin B12 deficiency:

Getting Enough Vitamin B12? Three Reasons Why You Might Not B

On Becoming Vegan: Avoiding Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Others

Vitamin B12 and Kidney Disease

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Vitamin B12 supplementation has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of complications in those suffering from kidney disease.  It is commonly known that people with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) have kidneys that don’t function anymore.  However, with dialysis treatment at prescribed intervals, these patients can live normal lives.

Patients undergoing dialysis, unfortunately, still have high levels of a toxic amino acid known as homocysteine.  These high levels of homocysteine put the patients at an increased risk for heart attacks and strokes.  The reason is that this amino acid encourages the buildup of plaque in the arteries.

The two nutrients responsible for the metabolism of homocysteine are folic acid and vitamin B12.  When a person with high levels of homocysteine is given folic acid and no additional vitamin B12, the body is unable to destroy the homocysteine.

Doctors try to lower the homocysteine levels of patients with ESRD by giving them folic acid.  As mentioned previously, folic acid alone cannot reduce homocysteine without additional vitamin B12.  That’s why this doesn’t work.

There are studies that support this theory. In one study in the U.S., doctors took twenty-four patients on hemodialysis and divided them into two groups.  One group received the standard folic acid therapy and a small dose of oral B12.  The other group received folic acid and B12 injections (a higher dosage).  The group receiving the B12 injections had a plasma homocysteine levels that were 32% lower than their counterparts.

Researchers in Japan conducted a similar study on twenty-one hemodialysis patients.  This study also compared homocysteine levels of patients who received folic acid alone to patients who received folic acid and B12 injections.  Within three weeks the patients who received the injected B12 fared much better than the control group.

If you know anyone who has kidney disease and is on dialysis, tell him to supplement his diet with high doses of vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 and Heart Disease

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Vitamin B12 can significantly reduce a person’s likelihood to develop heart disease. This is because vitamin B12 is absolutely vital for the metabolism of a toxic amino acid, which is known as homocysteine.

High levels of homocysteine in the blood lead to heart attacks and strokes. The primary reason is that this amino acid engenders plaque formation in the arteries, also called atherosclerosis.

The first person to discover the connection between homocysteine and atherosclerosis was Dr. Kilmar McCully in 1969. He firmly disagreed with the theory that too much fat cells in the bloodstream is the primary cause of heart disease.

Today, most doctors still test for blood cholesterol levels to predict a patient’s cardiovascular risk. Ironically, more than half of all victims of heart attacks have normal blood cholesterol levels.

Homocysteine levels in the blood commonly become elevated as people age. Other factors include usage of prescription drugs, caffeinated drinks and alcoholic beverages.

Consequently, vitamin B12 supplementation is highly recommended for prevention of heart disease.

Do Birth Control Pills Affect Vitamin B12 Levels?

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Birth control pills (a.k.a. oral contraceptives) reduce the levels of vitamin B12 in the user. The estrogen hormone contained in the pills is responsible for this.

What are the potential side effects of a vitamin B12 reduction?

Women taking birth control pills (a.k.a. oral contraceptives) should be aware that vitamin B12 is necessary for the metabolism of the dangerous amino acid called homocysteine.

What can homocysteine do?

A high homocysteine level is known to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Basically, this toxic amino acid encourages plaque formation in the arteries, which then leads to coronary heart disease and stroke.

Are there other side effects of low vitamin B12 blood levels?

A vitamin B12 deficiency has been known to cause memory loss, neuropathy (nerve cell death), depression, psychosis and even urinary incontinence.

What can be done for a woman who is taking birth control pills?

Women using estrogen pills are advised to supplement their diets with vitamin B12, as well as vitamins B6, C and zinc. Levels of all these vitamins have been shown to be affected by the use of birth control pills.

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