Homocysteine levels in your blood are one of the most accurate markers of risk for heart disease we have. For many years now, we've know that supplementing with B vitamins will lower homocysteine levels. This was very exciting--for a while. Recently several studies have shown that while homocysteine levels drop with supplementation, risk for heart disease and stroke remains unchanged!
Apparently homocysteine is an indicator of risk, but not the cause of the risk itself (similar to cholesterol). While B vitamins lower homocysteine levels, they do not change the reason that the homocysteine levels were elevated in the first place! New research shows a method of lowering homocysteine that truly is effective at lowering your risk of heart disease and stroke---exercise.
Researchers monitored the effects of a 6-months weight-training program on overweight and normal-weight adults. Homocysteine levels dropped, as did oxidative stress (oxidative stress is the opposite of antioxidant protection--see the Antioxidant Article for more info). Interestingly, cholesterol levels did not change.
Numerous studies have shown that weight training decreases risk of heart disease and stroke. I believe that this is accomplished through multiple systems--the immune system is involved with inflammation, the endocrine system with responses to inflammation and stress, and the nervous system directs it all. There will never be a pill to cure heart disease--what we do know is that certain lifestyle choices are associated with a dramatically decreased risk--regular exercise, natural eating habits, rewarding work, and regular practice of a stress reduction technique.
Read the study here.