Homocysteine is an amino acid; elevated levels of it are associated with a number of health problems, including heart disease and osteoporosis. Folic acid and vitamin B6 are necessary for the body to convert homocysteine to taurine and other useful amino acids. Recent research appearing in Diabetes Care (2005; 28 (11): 2750-55) shows a connection between diabetes and homocysteine.
The subjects of the prospective study were 170 women with a history of blood sugar problems during pregnancy (gestational diabetes). The women did not have diabetes six weeks after giving birth. The were given a two hour glucose tolerance test, and the researchers tested cholesterol and lipid levels, insulin, blood sugar and homocysteine level every year for four years. Just over 10% of the women (18) were diagnosed with diabetes during that four year period. The women who developed diabetes had higher homocysteine levels. The researchers believe that high homocysteine levels is a diabetes risk factor in women with a history of gestational diabetes.
One interesting note, vitamin B6 has shown itself to be useful for preventing gestational diabetes in earlier research. Vitamin B6 is necessary to convert homocysteine to more useful amino acids.