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Carnitine Found In Red Meat, Energy Drinks, Promotes Hardening Of The Arteries

April 7, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
A compound added to energy drinks and dietary supplements – and abundant in red meat – has been shown to promote hardening of the arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis. Beneficial bacteria in the gut convert carnitine into a metabolite (trimethylamine-N-oxide, or TMAO ) that has been linked in a previous study to atherosclerosis. A diet rich in red meat actually promotes the growth of the bacteria that metabolize carnitine, compounding the problem. The study further found that vegans and vegetarians have much less ability to synthesize TMAO from carnitine, “which may explain the cardiovascular health benefits of these diets”.
Robert A Koeth et al., "Intestinal microbiota metabolism of l-carnitine, a nutrient in red meat, promotes atherosclerosis", Nature Medicine, April 07, 2013, © Nature Publishing Group
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