Carnitine, a compound found naturally in red meat and added as a supplement to popular energy drinks, has been found to advance hardening of the arteries in a study released April 7. Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic analyzed the cardiac evaluations of nearly 2,600 patients and measured their carnitine and trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) levels. the study is one in a line of research exploring connections between gut microbes and heart disease.
Bacteria in the human digestive tract metabolize carnitine to produce TMAO, which has been linked to atherosclerosis, a buildup of plaque along the artery walls. Over time, this plaque hardens and narrows the arteries, restricting the flow of blood to internal organs. Researchers also studied the effects of high-carnitine diets on mice.
The study authors concluded that high-levels of carnitine predicted increased risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke. While red meat consumption has long been link to heart disease, research team leader Stanley Hazen, M.D. believes that the saturated fat and cholesterol in red meat alone does not explain the increased risk of heart disease that comes from regularly consuming red meat. This new research points to another connection between red meat and heart disease.
Carnitine is also found in energy drinks such as certain varieties of Monster Energy, and is sold in pill form as a nutritional supplement. Dr. Hazen notes that the body produces adequate amounts of carnitine naturally and taking this compound as a supplement is unnecessary and may contribute to heart disease.
http://www.examiner.com/article/supplement-added-to-popular-energy-drinks-linked-to-heart-diseaseSocial tagging: cardiovascular > heart > supplements