Homocysteine is a naturally occurring amino acid that is a breakdown product of the essential amino acid methionine. If your levels are high you may be at risk for coronary problems, cancer, deep vein thrombosis, stroke, kidney disease, hypothyroidism and reduced physical performance in older women. High levels also have been linked to aging eye disease such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.
Normally homocysteine is converted into a harmless amino, cysteine or back into methionine but gluten sensitivity may increase the buildup and thwart its normal conversion. The usual problem is low B vitamins and low folate (B9)* which helps homocysteine normalize as well low levels of B6 and B12. Since stomach acid is required to produce B12 and adequate folic acid absorption, the aging body may suffer because they have reduced stomach acid. Also if you use acid-blocking heartburn drugs to reduce stomach acid that will affect your ability to process the B vitamins.
Routine blood tests can confirm B vitamin deficiencies but you should also ask to have your homocysteine levels checked. If low and if you have stomach acid problems you may want to supplement.
*folic acid is the synthetic version of folate… not as good.
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