The B Vitamin Homocysteine Stress Connection
Many studies have confirmed that the B vitamins folate, B6 and B12 can help lower homocysteine levels. Lower homocysteine levels are key to supporting cardiovascular health and better health in general. Emerging research now makes the connection between homocysteine and stress.
The sulphurated amino acid homocysteine mediates methylation and plays a role in maintaining nervous system balance. Homocysteine is produced in the body from methionine after methionine donates a methyl group. After homocysteine receives a methyl group from one of the B vitamins, it regenerates back to methionine. That’s why low levels of the B vitamins can lead to elevated levels of homocysteine. Conversely, supplementing with B vitamins can help balance homocysteine.
Preliminary research is showing that there is a correlation between occasional feelings of anxiety and elevated serum homocysteine levels. A 2017 study published in Scientific Reports involving 649 children age 6 to 13 confirmed this connection. A 2017 review published in the Journal of Inborn Errors of Metabolism and Screening also makes the connection between homocysteine and mental health. A 2016 animal study published in the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology also showed that inducing hyperhomocysteinemia increased anxiety-related behavior. Previous papers, including a 2016 review published in the journal Nutrients, make the direct connection between B vitamin supplementation, homocysteine and anxious feelings.
A 2014 paper published in Nutrition Journal that looked at occupational stress and B vitamin status concluded, “One mechanism by which B group vitamin intervention may aid the reduction of stress and fatigue ratings of those in full time employment is through the uninhibited clearance of homocysteine”
Research is demonstrating that B vitamin deficiency reduces the ability to cope with stress. The author of a 2016 review published in Nutrients reports that “Just one of the many consequences of a deficiency in any of the B vitamins is a potential hampering of the natural breakdown and recycling of homocysteine, leading to its accumulation and a number of potential, negative cellular consequences.”
One key takeaway message from the emerging research connecting homocysteine and B vitamins is that reducing or preventing hyperhomocysteinemia has many varied health benefits, including the potential for better stress management. B vitamins, in particular B6, B12 and folate, may help patients who are having difficulty coping with stress and occasionally feeling anxious and who also have elevated serum homocysteine levels. This is an economical recommendation with great outcome potential.
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