Gut bacteria could transform a nutrient in food into a blood clot-enhancing compound, according to a study in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation.
When people eat choline, a nutrient found in foods such as meat, eggs and milk, the study suggest their gut bacteria could turn it into a compound that helps blood clot, the American Heart Association said in a press release.
“The new study provides the first direct evidence in humans that consuming excess choline, an essential nutrient plentiful in a Western diet, raises both levels of the bacteria-produced compound, called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), and the tendency of platelets to clump together and form clots,” the American Heart Association said.
The study consisted of 18 participants made up of eight vegans or vegetarians and 10 omnivores, all of which did not have heart disease or leading risk factors for it, the American Heart Association said. Participants ingested 500 milligram choline bitartrate supplements twice a day over two months, with an average daily intake of 302 mg.
The study found that "blood levels of TMAO rose more than 10 times after both one and two months of choline supplementation in both vegans/vegetarians and omnivores alike,” the American Heart Association said.
“Foods that raise TMAO may increase your risk for clotting and thrombotic events,” Stanley Hazen, M.D., senior author of the study and chair of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and section head of Preventive Cardiology & Rehabilitation at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, said in the release. “Unless prescribed by your doctor, avoid supplements with choline. A Mediterranean or vegetarian diet is reported to help reduce TMAO.”