The Homocysteine story involves the cellular metabolic step by step process termed methylation, which is the conversion of the amino acid methionine, absorbed from our diet, into an intermediate product called Homocysteine which should be, all being well, transformed into the very important chemical s-adnosyl-methionine (SAME) which is further transformed into Glutathione. Glutathione is claimed to be the body’s most efficient antioxidant and detoxifying agent.
However if this vital transformation step is not completed 100%, the interim residual product of homocysteine, another amino acid, is left unconverted and accumulates as an unwanted toxin. So to retain maximum cellular health the methylation process must seek its full conclusion with the production of SAME’s and finally Glutathione. Hence the accumulation of homocysteine is a measure of cellular dysfunction, which will have a negative effort on health.
Biological processes are rarely 100% efficient and thus practically always leave unwanted by-products, residuals, which gives a clear indication of the inefficiency of the process. So the level of accumulation of homocysteine illustrates how efficient is the methylation process and thus how robust and healthy a person is at the cellular level, which in turn directly affects the level of overall health. Thus the level of homocysteine in the blood is a measure of the “unhealthiness” of the body at the cellular level and indicative of poor health.
Standard health investigations normally evaluate a series of disease risk factors, including weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides and fasting sugar levels, which may act as precursors to pending diseases, such as heart attack, stroke and beriberi, etc. Hence today many medical investigators now believe that, since homocysteine levels are directly indicative of a person’s cellular efficiency, the homocysteine levels should be a direct measure of the remaining “robustness of life “and thus a clear indicator of final longevity. Homocysteine levels run from an extremely healthy level of 6 – 9, to an average healthy level of 10 – 12, upwards towards unhealthy levels of 20, and onto potentially terminal levels exceeding 30. A complication is that these homocysteine levels are normally symptom free. Thus although there are underlying problems there are no red flags waving warnings of pending ill health. So regular laboratory blood analysis is advisable. Some medical researchers even call the homocysteine evaluations as the “clairvoyant of longevity”.
The good news is that homocysteine levels may be influenced initially by diet and latterly with the assistance of supplementation. Thus we should observe our homocysteine levels and in accordance with the rise in levels complement our diet with therapeutic amounts of B vitamins in conjunction with TMG (an amino-acid termed trimethyl-glycine) and SAME's.
Thus as we progress through the aging process we should pay more attention to the risk factors revealed from blood tests. In particular homocysteine levels should be monitored regularly (every 6 months) and dietary supplementation provided as necessary, so that our endeavours to lead long healthy lives can be fulfilled.