Quest Vitamins LTD,
Breaking the term "hyperhomocysteinemia" into its roots does much to clarify this disease - hyper (too much) homocysteine. Normally, homocysteine, a modified amino acid, is formed as a by-product of a natural chemical conversion within the body. Because homocysteine is actually a toxin, the body has specific mechanisms to keep homocysteine levels controlled. When these mechanisms fail to work, homocysteine increases in the blood, thereby scarring artery walls and encouraging plaque formation in the arteries.
An elevated homocysteine levels is becoming recognised as a risk factor for heart disease. Forty percent of all Coronary Heart Disease patients show evidence of hyperhomocysteinemia. Recently, elevated homocysteine levels have been linked to cancer and systemic Lupus erythematosus.
Many hyperhomocysteinemia patients exhibit low levels of Folic Acid, vitamin B6 and/or vitamin B12. However, the most severe form becomes evident in infancy and could lead to premature Aging and death. This form is typically genetically acquired, although researchers have said that Folic Acid (or vitamin B12) supplied after conception could reduce the risk.
1. Woodside JV, Yarnell JW, et al: Effect of B-group vitamins and antioxidant vitamins on hyperhomocysteinemia - a double-blind, randomized, factorial-design, controlled trial, Am Journ Clin Nutr, 1998, 67(5), p 858-866