Expert’s Opinion

Elevated homocysteine levels, Nabili (n.d.) says, may be due to severe genetic causes or other milder causes. He says that in the genetic condition, homocystinuria, commonly found in childhood, an important enzyme is lacking. This leads to extremely high homocysteine levels. The symptoms in this rare and serious condition include developmental delay, osteoporosis, visual abnormalities, formation of blood clots and advanced atherosclerosis.

The more common causes, Nabili (n.d.) continues, are the milder genetic variations, hyperhomocysteinemia. Here, the enzymes malfunction and are inefficient due to minor structural abnormality. This slows down homocysteine breakdown and hence, increases homocysteine levels.

Studies also show high homocysteine level in people with schizophrenia and scleroderma (Lipski, 2005, p.361; p.365). However, this important risk factor can be reversed in weeks (Holford, 2004, p.136). Studies have shown that the deficient enzyme works better when daily B12 and folic acid intakes are increased (Holford, 2004, p.137).

The American Heart Association (2008) reaffirms that both diet and genetic factors strongly influence homocysteine levels.

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