Homocystien is a product of methionine metabolism. Homocysteine has been shown to have detrimental effects on cells and tissues if levels rise. Under normal circumstances homocysteine is converted to other substances that are benign in their effects and so homocysteine levels do not rise high enough to have damaging effects. However, for this to occur the cells require adequate folic acid and vitamin B12 as cofactors to the enzymes that degrade the homocysteine precursors and thereby prevent homocysteine formation. Low intakes of folic acid and vitamin B12 can cause homocysteine levels to rise and the damage this causes can be vascular in nature. In particular the homocysteine causes the reduction in endothelial function which leads to blood pressure rises and eventually this can cause the development of cardiovascular disease. Folic acid treatment for 6 months is enough to lower homocysteine levels to normal and this reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease significantly in those with elevated levels.
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