Elevated Homocysteine harmful for eyes

Elevated Homocysteine harmful for eyesHomocysteine is an amino acid in the blood. It appears to be a nerve and vessel toxin, promoting mortality, cardiovascular disease (CVD), stroke, Alzheimer's Disease, birth defects, recurrent pregnancy loss, and eye disorders.

It has been recently reported  by the researchers at the Medical College of Georgia. that high levels of an amino acid called homocysteine could harm the eyes. They suspect that homocysteine - already believed to contribute to heart attack, stroke and dementia - likely helps cause retinal damage and vision loss. Preliminary evidence suggests that elevated homocysteine levels damage the extensive blood vessel and neuronal network of the retina.

Normal serum homocysteine levels are from 2.2 to 13.2 µmol/l. Levels of homocysteine in typical Western populations are about 12 µmol/l. Although this is "normal," it is not necessarily healthy.

Keeping homocysteine at levels associated with lower rates of disease requires both adequate B12 and folate (also known as folic acid) status. Low vitamin B6 status can also cause elevated homocysteine in some people.



Lifestyle factors which increase homocysteine levels include:

  • Diet - high alcohol intake and coffee consumption reduce the absorption of vitamins

  • Smoking

  • Lack of physical exercise and excessive stress

  • Obesity

  • Drugs and certain diseases also influence homocysteine metabolism.

If several of these factors are combined, their impact may be substantial.


Tied to folic acid

Elevated Homocysteine harmful for eyesMethionine is an essential amino acid obtained from protein in the diet. Some methionine is turned into homocysteine. The body turns much of this homocysteine back into methionine with the help of vitamin B12. If someone is B12-deficient, homocysteine levels will increase because this reaction cannot take place.


This is a problem for many people, because they don't eat enough folate-rich fruits, vegetables and grains. People need about 400 micrograms of folate daily. Pregnant women as well as those trying to become pregnant need at least double that.







Plant Sources of Folate





cooked lentils

1/2 Cup


cooked black beans

1/2 Cup


romaine lettuce

1 1/2 Cup


orange juice

1 Cup


cooked spinach

1/2 Cup


canned refried beans

1/2 Cup


cooked garbanzo beans

(aka chickpeas)

1/2 Cup


cooked navy beans

1/2 Cup


cooked broccoli

1 Cup


sunflower seeds

1/4 Cup


cooked pinto beans

1/2 Cup


cooked kidney beans

1/2 Cup



RDA for folate is 400 µg for people over age 13.


Folate and vitamin B12 convert homocysteine to methionine, an amino acid that plays a vital role in protein synthesis. When this conversion fails to occur, elevated homocysteine levels interfere with the folding and structure of collagen, a component of bone, tissue and blood vessel walls.

Listen to the Podcast (what's this)

Related Links