oa South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition - Dietary strategies to treat hyperhomocysteinaemia based on the biochemistry of homocysteine : a review

Volume 27, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1607-0658
  • E-ISSN: 2221-1268



Hyperhomocysteinaemia is implicated in various diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. Several conditions influence the concentration of homocysteine (Hcy), including demographic, genetic and lifestyle factors. With regard to the latter, dietary components may be manipulated as Hcy can be remethylated to methionine by folate, or metabolised by other one-carbon nutrients, such as betaine and its precursor, choline. This metabolic interplay enables the nutritionist or dietitian to be able to lower Hcy concentrations cost-effectively by tailoring an individual's diet, or by food enrichment and fortification strategies. Evidence supports the safety and benefits of Hcy reduction by simple dietary intervention. B vitamins, and betaine and choline intake lower Hcy, whereas methionine and certain beverages (coffee, tea and alcohol) increase it. Therefore, dietary determinants of Hcy raise the prospect of a simple, inexpensive and safe means of treating and/or preventing diseases contingent on this sulphur-containing protein.

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