Proteins in many foods, such as meat, eggs, cheese and milk, contain an essential amino acid called methionine. In a normal case, methionine is converted into a substance called cysteine, which is responsible for functions such as metabolic activity during the process of synthesis in the body. However, when the metabolic process of these proteins is not performed normally due to various causes, cysteine is changed to homocysteine, a toxic by-product in the mutant form.
Homocysteine, an intermediate metabolite, is normally converted back to methionine or cysteine. However, if this conversion is not made and it is continuously accumulated in the body, hyperhomocysteinemia causes various physical problems including blood vessels, as well as various chronic diseases. It acts as a cause of disease and metabolic disease. Now, let’s take a look at the various problems that homocysteine causes, as well as various nutrients that can help lower the concentration of homocysteine one by one.
Problems caused by homocysteine
When homocysteine that has not been converted to amino acid is produced excessively, it promotes the formation of blood clots in the blood vessels due to the increase in the concentration of homocysteine in the blood. In addition, the increase in LDL cholesterol, also known as bad cholesterol, damages the endothelial tissue of blood vessels and thickens the lining of blood vessels, creating excessive inflammation, increasing the risk of various vascular diseases such as arteriosclerosis and myocardial infarction.
In addition, as homocysteine acts as a trigger to increase free radicals, another factor in vascular damage, it not only causes vasoconstriction, but also inhibits the production of nitric oxide that expands blood vessels, thereby increasing blood pressure and inhibiting blood flow. will be the main factor for
Homocysteine causes damage to blood vessels that properly supply oxygen and nutrients to the brain, acting as a risk factor for cerebrovascular diseases such as stroke. According to a study conducted at Harvard University in the United States, it was announced that whenever the concentration of homocysteine increases by about 5 mol/L, the incidence of cardiovascular disease increases by about 1.8 times and the incidence of cerebrovascular disease by about 2.3 times. . Homocysteine is also called the second cholesterol because it is closely related to vascular health.
In addition, an increase in the concentration of homocysteine can cause problems such as cerebral blood vessel constriction and cognitive impairment, which increases the risk of dementia. According to the results of several studies, the cognitive function of the elderly over 60 years of age increased as the homocysteine level in the blood increased. In addition, excessive production of homocysteine is known to increase the risk of osteoporosis by weakening bone density, and is reported to be closely related to the development of fatty liver. In addition, as homocysteine is known to block the normal synthesis of neurotransmitters involved in emotions and mood, it is also said to be associated with mental disorders such as depression.
Nutrients that reduce homocysteine
1. Adequate intake of folic acid
It is known that the main cause of excessive production of homocysteine is related to a lack of intake of nutrients from the B group of vitamins that are directly involved in the metabolism of methionine. Therefore, in order to prevent an increase in the concentration of homocysteine, it is important to consume enough ingredients corresponding to the vitamin B complex, and among them, intake of folic acid, which is vitamin B9, is very important. Folic acid is found in various green vegetables and fruits such as broccoli, spinach, cabbage, mugwort, asparagus, lettuce, cauliflower, leek, banana and cherry tomatoes.
2. Vitamin B6 intake
In order to reduce the increased concentration of homocysteine, intake of vitamin B6 called pyridoxine is also very important. Vitamin B6 is found in large amounts in meat such as chicken and pork, organ meat such as liver, and seafood such as salmon and shrimp. In addition, it is abundant in oats, brown rice, malt, etc., which are whole grains that have not been refined, and it is said that the content is high in spinach, carrots, corn, bananas, milk, soybeans, and avocados.
3. Vitamin B12
In addition to folic acid and vitamin B6 introduced earlier, vitamin B12, also called cobalamin, is a nutrient that helps reduce the concentration of homocysteine by inhibiting the conversion of methionine to homocysteine. This vitamin B12 has the characteristic that it is not synthesized in plants, so it hardly exists in plant form, and it is said that most of it is contained abundantly in meat and seafood in animal form.
Since most of these vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 components are contained in animal form, it is good to prevent an increase in the concentration of homocysteine by not consuming too much and consuming an amount based on the proper daily intake. It is said to be effective because it can be consumed more effectively.