What is High Homocysteine?
Homocysteine is a common amino acid (one of the building blocks that make up proteins) found in the blood and is acquired mostly from eating meat. High levels of homocysteine are related to the early development of heart and blood vessel disease. In fact, it is considered an independent risk factor for heart disease. High homocysteine is associated with low levels of vitamin B6, B12, and folate and renal disease.
High homocysteine in vegetarians and vegans is mainly related to a deficiency in B12. However, a mutation in the MTHFR C677T gene may also contribute to this condition. Therefore, blood status of homocysteine, B12, folate, B6 and MTHFR C677T was studied in vegans and omnivores (vegetarians). Results founds vegans to exhibit significantly higher levels of homocysteine, with a C677T mutation not related to this. Serum folate levels did however decrease in the severity of the MTHFR C677T mutation, with those individuals showing the 677TT mutation found to have much lower levels of folate that those with a CC genotype. These findings were not however found in omnivores.