~ Amino Acid Linked to Alzheimer's

In the current issue of the prestigious publication New England Journal of Medicine, researchers have reported that individuals with the highest levels of homocysteine in their blood were nearly twice as likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer's disease compared to those with the lowest levels. For those of you who have been regularly reading this weekly newsletter, you are probably familiar with some of the toxic effects of homocysteine. For those of you who are first time or sporadic readers, let me give you some background information on homocysteine.

Homocysteine is an amino acid that is produced in the body as part of normal metabolism. Approximately thirty years ago, Dr. Kilmer McCully, a pathologist from Harvard, found that elevated levels of homocysteine in the blood could potentially lead to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. His research was initially dismissed out of hand and his theory was abandoned.

However, in the last decade, especially in the last few years, there has been renewed interest in this metabolic by-product. There have been numerous studies in the medical literature that I believe have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that elevations in homocysteine increase your risk of not only heart attack and stroke, but also even thrombophlebitis.

Doctors on the cutting edge are now starting to measure homocysteine as part of regular cardiac screening. If you have never had a homocysteine level checked, I would strongly recommend that you have this done. If your doctor needs any proof regarding the merits of this test, just have him do a literature search on Medline and he will find literally hundreds of articles relating to this subject.

Going back to the study in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Joseph Loscalzo of Boston University Medical Center writes in his editorial, "The study provides convincing evidence that high homocysteine levels put the elderly at risk for Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia."

It should be noted that homocysteine levels can be lowered with proper doses of vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid. Dr. Loscalzo further comments in the editorial, "It is intriguing to contemplate the possibility that consumption of these vitamins might prevent the development of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias."

So now what should you do?

This study further solidifies for me the importance of taking proper and adequate nutritional supplementation to help maintain normal cognitive function. Although it is yet to be defined exactly what the optimal doses of folic acid, B6 and B12 are to lower homocysteine levels, it is quite clear that the amounts used in the typical once-a-day products are totally inadequate.

I would strongly recommend the use of Synergy multi-vitamin from Nutraceutical Sciences Institute. Among its many nutrients it contains an excellent amount of folic acid along with B6 and a specialized form of B12 known as methylcobalamin. Most vitamin products on the market use the inexpensive cyanocobalamin form of B12. Studies in the medical literature have demonstrated that methylcobalamin has some metabolic and therapeutic applications not shared by the other forms of B12.

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