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Food Nutrient Tied to Risky Blood Clotting

May 03, 2017 - 6 comments

                                    Food Nutrient Tied to Risky Blood Clotting

A nutrient in meat and eggs may conspire with gut bacteria to make the blood more prone to clotting, a small study suggests.
The nutrient is called choline. Researchers found that when they gave 18 healthy volunteers choline supplements, it boosted their production of a chemical called TMAO.
That, in turn, increased their blood cells' tendency to clot. But the researchers also found that aspirin might reduce that risk.
TMAO is short for trimethylamine N-oxide. It's produced when gut bacteria digest choline and certain other substances.
Past studies have linked higher TMAO levels in the blood to heightened risks of blood clots, heart attack and stroke, said Dr. Stanley Hazen, the senior researcher on the new study.
These findings, he said, give the first direct evidence that choline revs up TMAO production in the human gut, which then makes platelets (a type of blood cell) more prone to sticking together.
Choline is found in a range of foods, but it's most concentrated in animal products such as egg yolks, beef and chicken.
Hazen said he and his colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic wanted to isolate the effects of choline on people's levels of TMAO and their platelet function. So they studied supplements.
The researchers had 18 healthy adults --10 meat-eaters and eight vegetarians/vegans -- take choline supplements for two months.
The supplements provided around 450 milligrams of choline daily -- roughly the amount in two or three eggs, Hazen said.
One month in, the study found, the supplements had raised participants' TMAO levels 10-fold, on average. And tests of their blood samples showed that their platelets had become more prone to clotting.
"This study gives us one of the mechanisms by which TMAO may contribute to cardiovascular disease," said Dr. J. David Spence.
Spence, who was not involved in the study, directs the Stroke Prevention & Atherosclerosis Research Centre at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada.
For the healthy people in this study, Spence said, the TMAO rise from choline might not be worrisome. But, he added, it might be a concern for people at increased risk of heart disease or stroke.
Spence suggested those individuals limit egg yolks, beef and other foods high in choline.
Hazen had similar advice. "You don't have to become a vegetarian," he said. "But you could try eating more plant-based foods, and more vegetarian meals."
He also pointed to the Mediterranean diet -- rich in olive oil, vegetables and fish. In an earlier study, Hazen said, his team found that a compound in olive oil seems to inhibit TMAO formation.
The new study uncovered yet another compound that may counter TMAO: low-dose aspirin.
In a separate experiment, the researchers had some participants take 85 milligrams of aspirin (a baby aspirin) a day, in addition to choline supplements. That, it turned out, lessened the rise in TMAO and the change in platelet activity.
Doctors already prescribe low-dose aspirin to certain people at risk of heart disease and stroke.
It's possible, Hazen said, that aspirin's effects on TMAO are one reason it helps ward off cardiovascular trouble.
The current study is small and preliminary. But it's the latest to suggest that the gut "microbiome" plays a key role in cardiovascular disease, Spence said.
The "microbiome" refers to the trillions of bacteria that dwell in the gut. Spence said researchers are just beginning to understand how gut bacteria and their byproducts affect the cardiovascular system.
But one hope, he said, is to figure out what balance of gut bacteria supports cardiovascular health -- and possibly use probiotic ("good" bacteria) supplements to help treat people at high risk of heart disease or stroke.
Spence said his own lab is working on just that.
There are, of course, many factors in heart disease risk -- from age to high blood pressure to diabetes to smoking, Hazen pointed out.
"We're saying a portion of the risk is related to the gut microbiome," he said.
Hazen and a colleague report potential royalty payments from several companies related to "cardiovascular diagnostics and therapeutics." One company, Cleveland HeartLab, recently launched a test for measuring TMAO levels.
The findings appear in the April 25 online issue of Circulation.
http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/135/17/1671

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Avatar universal
by Paxiled, May 04, 2017
I guess this study is one I'll have to read if I ever get time.  I supplement daily with phosphatidyl choline, the better form for supplementation.  Along with phosphatidyl serine, these are considered very good for brain function.  I also supplement with inositol, which is in balance with choline.  I don't take them for the usual reasons, I take them because of what Paxil did to me.  Inositol might help with anxiety.  Many drugs, especially antidepressants, affect choline receptors in their function as brain neurotransmitters, and Paxil is very strong at doing that.  Choline is a very complicated substance, but most people don't think of it as having any effect in the gut as much as its essential role in memory and other brain function.  There are thousands of drugs out there that affect choline.  I wonder how any of this plays into the study and the analysis.  And taking aspirin in order to take choline seems inane -- choline as found in food is an essential nutrient that the body presumably knows how to manage.  As a supplement, depending on the form, might be a different story.  

Avatar universal
by Paxiled, May 05, 2017
Well, I guess I won't be reading the article -- requires a subscription.  For anyone who read this, high choline foods are some of the healthiest to eat, such as broccoli and other green leafy vegetables, whole grains, kim chi, etc.  You really can't and shouldn't avoid it, as you can't live without it -- lack of it causes other types of cardiovascular problems, possibly dementia, etc.  The claim above by the author that a vegetarian diet has less of it sounded a bit off to me, and it is -- for both it depends on what you eat and how much of it you eat.  Most of the highest anti-cancer foods contain choline.  This is really not about choline, as they're also studying many other nutrients, it's about probiotics, and choline certainly isn't alone in having an affect on them -- kim chi is extremely beneficial for them and it's high in choline.  I'd say don't worry about this study, at leas not yet, and even if it's true, again, it seems to be selling aspirin which destroys stomach lining as you cannot avoid choline and be healthy.  

Avatar universal
by Paxiled, May 05, 2017
Well, I guess I won't be reading the article -- requires a subscription.  For anyone who read this, high choline foods are some of the healthiest to eat, such as broccoli and other green leafy vegetables, whole grains, kim chi, etc.  You really can't and shouldn't avoid it, as you can't live without it -- lack of it causes other types of cardiovascular problems, possibly dementia, etc.  The claim above by the author that a vegetarian diet has less of it sounded a bit off to me, and it is -- for both it depends on what you eat and how much of it you eat.  Most of the highest anti-cancer foods contain choline.  This is really not about choline, as they're also studying many other nutrients, it's about probiotics, and choline certainly isn't alone in having an affect on them -- kim chi is extremely beneficial for them and it's high in choline.  I'd say don't worry about this study, at leas not yet, and even if it's true, again, it seems to be selling aspirin which destroys stomach lining as you cannot avoid choline and be healthy.  

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by Barb135, May 05, 2017
Thanks, Paxiled... Often, all we have to do is follow the money when it comes to studies like this.  

"Hazen and a colleague report potential royalty payments from several companies related to "cardiovascular diagnostics and therapeutics." One company, Cleveland HeartLab, recently launched a test for measuring TMAO levels."

For all we know, maybe they're going to get a kickback from the aspirin companies, too, for helping sell more of those...

Avatar universal
by gymdandee, May 05, 2017
http://newsroom.heart.org/news/gut-bacteria-may-turn-common-nutrient-into-clot-enhancing-compound?preview=7418

Avatar universal
by Paxiled, May 06, 2017
No, I didn't mean to say it's selling aspirin in that way -- nor did I mean to discredit the study.  Aspirin has never held a patent -- it was probably invented by the ancient Greeks but possibly by some other ancient civilization and was grandfathered in when the FDA regime was created so it has never been part of it.  It contains an acid isolated from white willow bark, but that's also contained in many other plants, such as boswellia (frankincense) and devil's claw.  Drugs that don't have a patent really don't make the killing that patented drugs do, and frankly, aspirin's heyday is long past.  A baby aspirin a day is a far cry from the 1950's and 60's when everyone swallowed aspirin like candy and died in the thousands upon thousands every year because of it.  Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are the biggies now.  And I didn't mean to pooh pooh the very important research going on now regarding probiotics -- this is one of the most promising areas of medical research for almost everything that ails us.  What I meant to emphasize was that you have to know how to read these studies.  This one only used a handful of people, and the authors recognize this and recognize this study doesn't tell us anything at all about choline.  It's part of an attempt to look at probiotics.  But the way the study was presented here, as it so often is, was that it reached a conclusion scientifically, and it didn't, and it didn't certainly prove that eating choline is a bad idea -- but it looked like it did and that would be frightening, as again, choline is found in many many foods, isn't mainly in animal food but is highest in some animal foods such as eggs and organ meats, and we'd all die without it.  It's important how these studies are presented and I just wanted to show some context.

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