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Homocysteine is an amino acid used by the body to make protein and to build and maintain tissue. Homocysteine is a product of methionine metabolism and in healthy cells, is quickly converted to other products.

What might a low result mean?

Low levels of homocysteine are normally present in very small amounts in all cells of the body.

What might a high result mean?

Excessive levels in your blood may increase your risk of stroke, certain types of heart disease, and disease of the blood vessels of the arms, legs and feet (peripheral artery disease). Although a raised homocysteine is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, it is not known whether it is causative or a result of the condition.

How might I improve my result?

As both folic acid and vitamin B12 are needed to metabolise homocysteine. Those who are deficient in these vitamins may have increased levels of homocysteine. Homocysteine can be lowered through increased intake of vitamin B12 and folic acid.

Vitamin B12 is found mostly in animal proteins such as meat, fish, milk and eggs. Because of this, vegetarians and vegans are at a greater risk of low vitamin B12 as there are almost no plant sources of this vitamin, yeast flakes are a good source which can be added to vegetarian foods. Raising your B12 levels can be as simple as taking a daily or weekly supplement, but if that doesn't improve levels then you may need a regular injection from your GP.

Low folate levels can be improved by incorproating more folate rich foods into your diet. Folate is found in a wide variety of foods such as cooked dried beans, peas, and lentils, spinach and asparagus as well as fortified foods such as breakfast cereals.