Thursday, September 6, 2012

Normal Levels For Homocysteine

Homocysteine is an amino acid produced by the human body usually as a byproduct of consuming meat. When homocysteine levels are too high, serious health problems can develop, including hardening of the arteries, peripheral vascular disease, excessive blood clotting, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. But for most people, high homocysteine levels can be lowered naturally with dietary changes


Homocysteine is ordinarily broken down with the help of folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6. The process is a series of delicate steps that make use of the enzymes. Either an insufficient supply of the vitamins or deficiencies in the enzymes can slow down the process of breaking down homocysteine, causing it to build up in the blood.


Normal homocysteine levels are between 5 and 15 micromoles per liter of blood. Between15 and 30 micromoles per liter is considered moderate elevation. Between 30 and 100 micromoles per liter is considered intermediate elevation. More than 100 micromoles per liter is severely elevated homocysteine.


A rare genetic disease called homocystinuria causes severely elevated levels of homocysteine because of a deficiency or lack of the enzyme that breaks down homocysteine. Mildly elevated homocysteine occurs in 5 to 12 percent of the general population. Alcoholics, smokers and people with chronic kidney disease may have elevated homocysteine levels more often.


There are currently no official recommendations for who should be tested. Doctors make testing decisions after considering the patient's symptoms and making observations about their health. Some doctors order tests of homocysteine levels for patients with early onset of blood clot formation, strokes, heart attack or other symptoms related to hardening of the arteries, especially if these patients do not have typical risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking or high LDL cholesterol.

Expert Insight

Although a study of a large group of women showed that those who consumed more folic acid had fewer heart attacks, there is no direct proof that increasing folic acid and B vitamin intake will reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, according to Furthermore, most available data comes from observational, rather than scientific studies.

Vitamin Dosages

The recommended daily amounts of folic acid and vitamins are usually sufficient to lower homocysteine levels. The Food and Drug Administration usually recommends 1 mg. of folic acid, 10 mg. of vitamin B6 and .5 mg of vitamin B12 per day.

Tags: homocysteine levels, folic acid, micromoles liter, acid vitamin, elevated homocysteine