Now measure your level of homocysteine, a toxic amino acid that accumulates when there is a lack of B vitamins and damages your brain as well as your arteries, with a home blood spot test kit.

Why do some have a greater risk of depression, dementia and schizophrenia than others? Which factors are driving the big increase in problems in children? The charity foodforthebrain.org, a friend of GrassrootsHealth, has launched a home test to measure homocysteine, which is an indicator of B vitamin status, to help reduce the risk of mental illness.

“Homocysteine is a biomarker for over 100 diseases, but especially those of the central nervous system.” Says pharmacology professor David Smith FMedSci, formerly Deputy Head of the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the University of Oxford. “It is a biomarker of impaired cognitive abilities in children and in adults is a risk marker for stroke and for dementia and Alzheimer’s, but also possibly for depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. It is very much the forgotten factor, and is so easily corrected, despite the research evidence being strongly positive.”

Patrick Holford, psychologist and nutritionist who heads the charity, says “a raised homocysteine level means something is going wrong with a vital process that controls how we think, feel, and perceive. It’s called methylation, and it is totally dependent on B vitamins. Some people absorb vitamin B12 less well than others. Some just need more of the B vitamin than others and that biochemical individuality, especially if their diet is deficient, can tip them into a mental or neurological illness.”

Those suffering from depression are more likely to have higher homocysteine levels. Amanda-Jane is a case in point. She was suffering with chronic fatigue and low mood, so she decided to check her homocysteine level. She was shocked when she found her score was 26 mcmol/l. After changing her diet and supplementing with B vitamins her sleep improved almost immediately and within four weeks, she had much more energy. Two months later she re-tested her homocysteine level and found it had dropped to 9. “I feel much better. My mood is very positive– no panic or depression. I feel buoyant, energetic and enthusiastic. I’m sleeping much better and my PMS has disappeared.” she said.

Also, every 5-point increase in homocysteine increases risk of being diagnosed with schizophrenia by a staggering 70%! Yet very few sufferers are ever checked for raised homocysteine levels.

Professor Joseph Levine from the Stanley Research Centre and Beersheva Mental Health Centre in Ben Gurion University, Israel devised a study to see what effect lowering homocysteine with B vitamins would have. He gave half of a group of 42 schizophrenic patients B vitamins (B6, B12 and folic acid) and the other half a placebo. Those taking the B vitamin supplements had both a dramatic reduction in their homocysteine levels and a significant improvement in their symptoms, except for one patient, who didn’t comply with the B vitamin treatment, didn’t improve, and didn’t have a reduction in their homocysteine level. They were the exception that proves the rule.

Professor David Smith, writing in the Journal of Internal Medicine, together with world leading expert on homocysteine, Professor Helga Refsum from the University of Oslo, Norway, say “There are five diseases can at least in part be prevented by lowering total homocysteine: neural tube defects, impaired childhood cognition, macular degeneration, primary stroke, and cognitive impairment in the elderly. We conclude from our review that total homocysteine values in adults of 10 mcmol/L or below are probably safe, but that values of 11 or above may justify intervention. Homocysteine is more than a disease biomarker: it is a guide for the prevention of disease.” Not only does it predict an increased risk for a stroke, but having a lower homocysteine level, achieved by eating B12 rich foods such as fish and eggs, and folate and B6 rich foods such as whole foods, vegetables, nuts, seeds and beans, and supplementing with B vitamins, helps those who’ve had a stroke recover faster.

The charity foodforthebrain.org recommends anyone with a homocysteine level over 10 mcmol/L supplement with extra B vitamins, especially B6 (20mg), folate (400mcg) and B12 (500mcg). Homocysteine is a toxic amino acid that accumulates when there is a lack of B vitamins that literally damages your brain as well as your arteries.

Professor Smith’s research group at Oxford University have shown that giving people with pre-dementia these vitamins reduced the rate of brain shrinkage to less than half of that in those given placebos. “Further cognitive decline virtually stopped in those taking the B vitamins.” says Smith. As many as two in five people over the age of 60 have a raised homocysteine level.

The reason why the B vitamin folic acid is recommended in pregnancy is because it lowers homocysteine. In ‘normal’ pregnancies, with no complications in either the mother or child, homocysteine remains below 7 mcmol/L. In five out of seven studies, women who have spontaneous abortions or miscarriages have a level above 15. The risk for having a pre-term baby is four times higher in women with a homocysteine level above 12. A study of 81 healthy women who then became pregnant found that the children of the women whose homocysteine before conceiving was above 9 were significantly more withdrawn, anxious and depressed and had more social problems including increased aggressive behaviour. “It is vital that a woman intending to become pregnant first checks their homocysteine level. Raised homocysteine, plus a lack of omega-3 fats found in fish, is a major promoter of developmental problems and mental illness in children later in life,” says Holford.

A child’s homocysteine level even predicts their school grades. A study compared the sum of school grades for ten core subjects, with homocysteine levels in a group of 692 Swedish school children aged 9 to 15. Increasing homocysteine levels were strongly associated with reducing grades as was inadequate folate intake.

The home pin prick blood spot test is available from https://foodforthebrain.org/homocysteine-hcy-grh/. The charity encourages those having the test to also complete a free Cognitive Function Test to help research the impact of homocysteine on mental health.

Here is a quick video explaining homocysteine.

Buy Your at-home Homocysteine Test from Food for the Brain Here

Measure Your Levels Today

Create your custom home blood spot kit to help determine if you are getting enough of the following nutrients shown to benefit overall health, along with other measures, including:

  • Vitamin D
  • Omega-3 Index plus AA:EPA Ratio
  • Magnesium (plus Zinc, Copper, Selenium, Lead, Cadmium & Mercury)
  • hsCRP
  • HbA1c
  • Type 1 Diabetes Autoantibodies
  • TSH

Enroll and test your levels today, learn what steps to take to improve your status of omega-3s, vitamin D and other nutrients and blood markers, and take action! By enrolling in the GrassrootsHealth projects, you are not only contributing valuable information to everyone, you are also gaining knowledge about how you could improve your own health through measuring and tracking your nutrient status, and educating yourself on how to improve it.

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