Homocysteine, as studies indicate, is one of major cardiovascular risk factors. It is an amino acid that appears to be associated with atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease, as an independent risk factor, like obesity, diabetes, hyperlipidemia and smoking.
But what exactly is homocysteine, how is it created and how can we reduce its levels?
What is homocysteine
Homocysteine is an amino acid that is synthesized by the human body and take place in the metabolism of the necessary amino acid methionine. Composition of homocysteine requires choline and is created by removing a carbon molecule from methionine molecule.
Homocysteine can be converted either to methionine or cysteine by following two different biochemical pathways. Conversion of homocysteine to cysteine or methionine requires a sufficient amount of vitamins of B complex, in specific of vitamin B12 (cobalamin) and vitamin B6 (pyrodixin), which act as co-enzymes in the conversion of homocysteine.
Normal levels of homocysteine are between 5 and 15 μmol/l. High levels of homocysteine, hyperhomocysteinemia, have been associated with cardiovascular diseases and complications of vascular endothelium. When blood homocysteine levels rise above the limit, excess homocysteine is discharged from the urine causing homocysteinuria.
Ηyperhomocysteinemia can be characterized as:
- Mild (15-30 μmol / l)
- Moderate (31-100 μmol / l)
- Severe (> 100 μmol / l)
Measuring homocysteine levels is not a routine test. Ηowever, the physician may recommend to determine homocysteine levels in blood, in case of high cholesterol levels, megaloblastic anemia, diabetes, history of cardiovascular disease or in women with gestational miscarriages.
Hyperhomocysteinemia is a condition that is dangerous to human health. High levels of homocysteine cause destruction of neurons while at the same time making the vessels vulnerable, causing inflammation.
In particular, when homocysteine can not be metabolized physiologically to methionine or cysteine, it causes thickening of the vascular muscle layer, damage endothelium, promoting the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. The result is to significantly increase the risk of ischemic attacks and cardiovascular disease. In addition, many studies have correlated elevated levels of homocysteine with neurological and psychological disorders (depression, schizophrenia, etc.).
High levels of homocysteine may be either due to genetic factors (congenital homocysteinuria), or to dietary or pathological causes. Reduced folate intake through nutrition as well as of vitamin B6 and B12 may lead to increase of homocysteine levels in blood, so they considered as the first line of treatment and treatment.
The role of betaine or TMG in Hyperhomocysteinemia
Betain or TMG (Trimethylglycine) is a molecule that is structurally composed of the amino acid glycine conjugated to three methyl molecules, while it is produced by choline. Although the term betaine refers to a group of compounds, often the two above terms are considered identical.
The main mechanism of action of betaine is to donate methyl and thus allow the conversion of homocysteine to L-methionine or to lead to an increase in SAMe levels in the organism (S-Adenosyl Methionine). TGM supplements are used to facilitate the methylation of the body and reduce homocysteine levels in the blood.
Methylation is a very important process in the body, which is not just about reducing homocysteine levels, but it is also necessary for liver detoxification, SAMe production, DNA repair, and fatty acid metabolism.
In this way TMG contributes to
- Endothelial protection
- Decrease of homocysteine levels
- Reduction of cardiovascular risk
It works synergistically with choline, vitamin B12, folic acid and SAMe. Studies have shown that taking TMG supplements can reduce homocysteine levels by up to 20%.
Betain can also be physically ingested from diet. The average daily intake is estimated to be 0.5 – 2 g / day. The therapeutic dosage varies from 0.5-2 g / day.
Interactions and contraindications
It is recommended to avoid TMG supplementation in people with peptic ulcer, in pregnant or breastfeeding womens and in minors.
Ιn Vita4you you can find a great variety of supplements with TMG to reduce homocysteine.