Importance of Homocysteine Levels
How important is it to measure Homocysteine levels
This part of the pathway synthesizes cysteine needed for glutathione synthesis, and taurine -which has multiple functions including preventing catabolism due to chronic stress and aiding insulin function; both of these nutrients are important for metabolic syndrome patients.
By supplying folates and methycobalamin B12, these will aid in the process of homocysteine being converted back into methionine in case the body is in need of converting methionine into SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine), which is known to improve depression, synthesize neurotransmitters and support joint comfort, function and mobility in the spine, hips and knees. It is important to the joints because of its critical role in cartilage production. If SAMe is supplemented in the absence of adequate B12, homocysteine levels may increase.
Besides faulty enzymes and genes, are there chemicals that cause faulty methionine conversion?
Yes, heavy metals. Mercury and lead are known to bind to these sulfur amino acids and interfere with the pathway. Mercury depletes B12 and may also interfere by causing a deficiency of this key methylator. The methylcobalamin form of B12 is responsible for remethylating folate so it can convert homocysteine back to methionine. However, too much emphasis on converting the pathway backwards does not allow the body to synthesize more cysteine if needed. Mercury toxicity creates a greater need for cysteine and glutathione. Chronic mercury inhalation from mercury fillings, with its great affinity to bind the sulfur-containing amino acids cysteine and methionine, can decrease the availability of these amino acids and affect the metabolism of both vitamin B12 and folate, making higher supplemental doses crucial. Cysteine is needed to synthesize glutathione, which helps the liver detoxify chemicals. High amounts of this antioxidant are used up to protect the body from heavy metals such as mercury. Glutathione prevents apoptosis, the dying of our cells due to excessive oxidative stress caused by heavy metals and chemicals, especially a problem in people who do not consume enough fruits and vegetables which contain antioxidants.
Is methylation important?
Some of the toughest patients will not get effective lowering of homocysteine until choline is supplemented. Choline converts to betaine with the help of riboflavin and vitamin B12, and aids methylation in this step of the pathway. TMG (trimethylglycine) provides extra methyl groups. With the help of B12, betaine can convert back to glycine and aid the synthesis of creatine for muscle health.
Zinc and Magnesium are cofactors for enzymes in these pathways.
By supporting the homocysteine pathway, it will prevent the toxic levels of homocysteine from accumulating, and make it possible for a functioning pathway to provide necessary methyl and sulfur groups for a myriad of biochemical reactions, especially those needed for detoxification, immune system support, joint and cartilage repair, brain health and for reducing our risk of cardiovascular and other serious diseases.