TMA & Cardiovascular Wellness: The Gut-Heart Connection

It’s widely accepted that the consumption of red meat and full-fat dairy may affect your cardiovascular system. More recently, the role that your gut microbiome may be playing in the process has been analyzed to an interesting result. Recent research is finding that microbes in your gut may be playing a role, as well.

Your microbes produce trimethylamine (TMA) when you eat certain foods. The TMA chemical is then converted to trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) which is associated with reduced cardiovascular wellness.

TMA is derived from choline and L-carnitine which can be found in foods like beef, pork, lamb, and eggs.


How Your Gut Gets Involved

Choline and carnitine on their own aren’t bad. In fact, choline is an important nutrient that helps your body form stable cell membranes. Carnitine is manufactured by your own body and helps your cells convert fat into energy.

However, certain gut microbes may make these substances problematic for you. When you eat foods containing choline and carnitine, these gut bacteria digest them and produce the compound trimethylamine (TMA). TMA is absorbed into your bloodstream and carried to the liver, which converts it into trimethylene N-oxide (TMAO).

High concentrations of TMAO in your blood are associated with atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, and an increased risk of death in patients with stable coronary artery disease. There’s also evidence that TMAO levels increase as kidney function decreases.

The link between TMAO and cardiovascular wellness, however, is not a straightforward one. Fish and other kinds of seafood are considered good for your heart but contain large amounts of TMAO, choline, and carnitine.


Ready to Explore?

Curious about your levels of TMA-producing microbes? Our Gut Explorer? kit can help. You’ll get an inside look at what’s going on in your gut microbiome and receive actionable, research-based insights. You’ll also see how your levels of TMA-producing microbes compare to others’.

If you’ve used Explorer and have a story to tell, we’d love to hear from you! Share your story on social media by tagging @ubiome and #UnleashYourExplorer.