We know how devastating Alzheimer’s disease can be. It robs people of their cognitive powers, their spirit, dignity, freedom and, ultimately, their life. And it puts great strain on those loved ones who care for them. But, I’ve learned through my patients afflicted with Alzheimer’s that there are ways to protect against its ravages.
You see, we are learning that elevated homocysteine levels contribute to Alzheimer’s and other dementias just as they put you at risk for heart disease. Bring down homocysteine, and you reduce cardiac risk as well as dementia risk.
Lower Elevated Homocysteine Levels for Alzheimer’s Prevention
What is homocysteine? It’s a sulfur-containing amino acid that is normally produced as a byproduct of the metabolism of an essential amino acid called methionine. Methionine is found in meats, cheeses, poultry, avocados and high-protein foods, but it’s not your dietary intake of these foods that causes problems. The real problem is that many of us lack the enzymes and vitamins we need to keep our homocysteine levels in check.
Elevated homocysteine levels (greater than 14 umol/L) is toxic to the DNA of brain cells, and can contribute to their premature death. Homocysteine also causes blood to clot faster, making us more vulnerable to heart attacks and strokes. In addition, elevated homocysteine levels cause severe mitochondrial membrane damage and cerebral microangiopathy, the accelerated destruction of small blood vessels in the brain.
Supplemental Folic Acid Controls Homocysteine Levels
The most crucial aspect in maintaining optimal levels of homocysteine is with the proper metabolism of methionine—and to do that, you want to supplement with folic acid.
But simple folic acid is not the sole solution to lowering elevated homocysteine. Only 60 percent of the folic acid you get into your body ends up in the active form called 5-MTHF. This is the only form of folate that your body can use immediately and efficiently and the only form that crosses the blood-brain barrier. I recommend taking 100 mcg of 5-MTHF folic acid daily.
Plus, remember to eat your beets and broccoli. Of all foods, beets and broccoli have the most powerful methylation capability for converting harmful homocysteine into harmless methionine.
Now it’s your turn: Have you had your homocysteine levels tested?
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