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Women with high blood levels of homocysteine are as likely as men of the same age to develop a heart attack (1) or form clots (2). This is surprising because the female hormone, estrogen, is supposed to protect a woman from heart attacks.

Lack of any one of the vitamins folic acid, B12 or pyridoxine raises blood levels of homocysteine to cause plaques and clots to form in arteries. Folic acid is found in the germ in whole grains. Grinding a whole grain produces flour that turns rancid very quickly. To prolong shelf life, the miller removes the germ containing folic acid from the grain before he grinds it, producing a flour that contains no folic acid. Lack of folic acid causes homocysteine to accumulate in the bloodstream and increase risk for heart attacks, clots, birth defects and strokes, so the United States Congress legislated that folic acid be added to all commercial flour.

Anyone who suffers heart attacks, clots or has given birth to children with an abnormally formed spinal column should get a blood test for homocysteine. If homocysteine is above 100, take folic acid, pyridoxine and B12 (readily available in combination pills such as Foltex or Fol-B.)

1) P Verhoef, R Meleady, LE Daly, IM Graham, K Robinson, GHJ Boers. Homocysteine, vitamin status and risk of vascular disease - Effects of gender and menopausal status. European Heart Journal, 1999, Vol 20, Iss 17, pp 1234-1244.

2) WA Wuillemin, M Solenthaler. Hyperhomocysteinemia and thrombotic vascular disease.Vasa - Journal of Vascular Diseases, 1999, Vol 28, Iss 3, pp 151-155.

Checked 8/31/05

May 29th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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