Homocysteine, Hormones, and Heart Disease
Written by Kathy Lynch, PharmD – Women’s International Pharmacy
High levels of homocysteine have been associated with an increased risk for heart disease and other chronic medical conditions. While age, gender, and kidney function are the primary factors that determine homocysteine levels, the B vitamins also play an important role in keeping homocysteine in check, particularly among the elderly.
The role that hormones play in the regulation of homocysteine is less clear. However, it turns out that the same B vitamins that keep homocysteine in check also help the body “methylate” or metabolize and excrete estrogens. And a high homocysteine level also typically reflects a lack of methylation, which can be a significant source of hormone imbalance.
Research suggests that higher estradiol levels in pre-menopausal women may be keeping homocysteine in check. Preliminary studies suggest that testosterone may play a role as well. Further research is needed to fully understand the relationships among homocysteine and hormone levels.
- “Homocysteine: The Amino Acid with Life or Death Implications” by Kimberly Pryor. Available at https://www.vrp.com/ as of January 2, 2013.
- “Testosterone Regulation of Renal Cystathione B-synthase: Implications for Sex-dependent Differences in Plasma Homocysteine Levels” by Vitvitsky V, Prudova A, Stabler S, Dayal S, Lentz S, and Banerjee R; American Journal of Physiology – Renal Physiology; 2007 Aug; 293(2): F594-F600.