You can't fix a broken heart - even with the best medicine. It just won't get it back to pumping like a healthy one.

While you can help rebuild a traumatized heart to some extent with exercise and good nutrition, the key to heart health is prevention. And when it comes to B vitamins, prevention is the name of the game.

Studies seem to go back and forth on whether or not they can make the difference. But despite the confusion, some clear guidelines seem to be emerging. And one of the indications is that there is a time and place where these vitamins work best.

Why Too Much Homocysteine Can Indicate Risk

In 2006, in a study of women and heart disease, women who had a high level of the amino acid homocysteine were 4 times more likely to die of heart disease.

Homocysteine is formed when protein is broken down in the body. It seems to play a role in injuring artery walls and increasing the likelihood of blood clots. These two effects can increase your risk of stroke or a heart attack.[1]

In addition, high blood homocysteine levels have been linked to pregnancy complications, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, depression and cognitive problems associated with aging.[2]

Research has also shown that people who get high levels of certain B vitamins – folate (B9), B12 and B6 - have consistently lower homocysteine levels.

So you would think taking these B vitamins to lower your homocysteine levels would result in decreasing your risk of heart attacks or stroke. Well, this doesn’t always seem to be the case . . .

Lower Homocysteine With B Vitamins - Does This Help?

While high homocysteine levels have been associated with heart disease, simply lowering homocysteine levels with B12, B6 and folate may not necessarily reduce your risk. A review of studies found no conclusive evidence that using B vitamins to lower homocysteine levels reduced the risk of heart disease.

In another large-scale study, there was no difference in the risk for heart attacks and strokes between people who supplemented with these B’s and those who didn’t.[3]
These studies have caused scientists to question B vitamins’ role in heart health.

B Vitamin Studies Are Confusing

But when you look closer at the studies one commonality emerges that sheds some light on all of this.

• In the first study, all the participants were already at risk for heart disease or had experienced a heart attack.[4]

• In the second study, all the participants had already undergone heart surgery (angioplasty) for previous heart attacks.

If both studies only looked at people who already had heart problems, it doesn’t help us understand how effectively B vitamins help prevent heart disease earlier on, when you don’t have any heart problems. The B vitamins may be less effective after the heart has already suffered a trauma.

A few studies support this possibility . . .

A study focusing on folic acid and the risk for heart disease found folic acid seemed to protect against a first heart attack, but not do much to prevent a second.[5]

And in another study involving people without any risk for heart disease, supplementing with B vitamins made a noticeable difference for the participants who had higher levels of homocysteine. With the B vitamins, their development of subclinical plaque buildup in the arteries slowed below the rate seen in the placebo group. Those who had low rates of homocysteine already did not see a difference in atherosclerosis progression.[6]

As these studies show, B vitamins may be more effective when used before much damage is done.

These studies underscore the importance of preventative medicine. It seems it’s hard to reverse heart health risks associated with homocysteine levels once they’ve taken hold in your body. But keeping your homocysteine levels low from the start with a B-vitamin rich diet may be a powerful way to prevent heart problems.

Now there’s an important side note to this. Certain people are particularly susceptible to developing high homocysteine levels. People who eat a lot of animal protein without a good supply of leafy greens are at risk . . . Stress and drinking lots of coffee can also increase the levels of homocysteine in the bloodstream.

Certain supplements can raise homocysteine levels – like SAMe, niacin and vitamin B3.

Importantly, studies that have focused on vegetarians and vegans have found that even without the input of meat protein, your homocysteine levels can rise, too.[7] Vegetarians and vegans have a hard time getting enough B12 in their diets since B12 is almost exclusively associated with animal products.

So it’s not just the presence of animal protein that causes high homocysteine levels. Not getting enough B vitamins also puts you at risk.

You can find out about one of the only plant-based sources for B vitamins by going to

[1]Elevated Homocysteine. Dr. Andrew Weil Website Condition Care Guide Viewed 10/14/14 at
[2] Refsum H et al. The Hordaland Homocysteine Study: A Community-Based Study of Homocysteine, Its Determinants, and Associations with Disease. J. Nutr. June 2006 vol. 136no. 6 1731S-1740S
[3] Study of the Effectiveness of Additional Reductions in Cholesterol and Homocysteine (SEARCH) Collaborative Group. Effects of Homocysteine-Lowering With Folic Acid Plus Vitamin B12 vs Placebo on Mortality and Major Morbidity in Myocardial Infarction Survivors: A Randomized Trial.JAMA, 2010; 303 (24): 2486-2494
[4] Martí-Carvajal AJ et al. Homocysteine lowering interventions for preventing cardiovascular events. Cochrane Heart Group. 31 JAN 2013
[5] David S. Wald, Joan K. Morris, Nicholas J. Wald. Reconciling the Evidence on Serum Homocysteine and Ischaemic Heart Disease: A Meta-Analysis. PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (2): e16473 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016473
[6] Dickinson A. The Benefits Of Nutritional Supplements, 4th Edition. Council For Responsible Nutrition. 2012. p. 93
[7] Huang YC, Chang SJ, Chiu YT, Chang HH, Cheng CH. The status of plasma homocysteine and related B-vitamins in healthy young vegetarians and nonvegetarians. Eur J Nutr. 2003 Apr;42(2):84-90.

Author's Bio: 

About Michael E. Rosenbaum, MD
Dr. Rosenbaum is a 30-year veteran and widely recognized pioneer in the field of nutritional medicine, alternative healthcare and medical acupuncture. As one of America's most respected experts in natural health and healing, Dr. Rosenbaum has been a frequent lecturer to professional medical groups and has participated in numerous television and radio talk shows. He is also an esteemed member of the Sun Chlorella Advisory Board, which helps guide the medical innovation behind Sun Chlorella products.

About Sun Chlorella USA
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