According to a new study published in the the lates “Nature Medicine” journal, makers of energy drinks are going to have to reinvent their formulas.
An ingredient that is often added to them has been found to promote atherosclerosis – the hardening or clogging of the arteries. This ingredient is also the main culprit in red meat, according to the study. The researchers found that higher levels of this ingredient in patients predicted increased risks for heart attack, stroke and death.
What’s the name of this dastardly compound? It is called “Carnitine” and although formerly thought to be almost like a vitamin – it is quite deadly.
The research team who conducted the study was led by Stanley Hazen, M.D., Ph.D., Vice Chair of Translational Research for the Lerner Research Institute and section head of Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation in the Miller Family Heart and Vascular Institute at Cleveland Clinic, and Robert Koeth, a medical student at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University.
The study demonstrates that bacteria living in the human digestive tract metabolize this compound, and produce a waste product called trimethylamine-N-oxide or TMAO. The study found that if there is a high level of TMAO in the subjects then that subject is at increased risk. TMAO is a metabolite that promotes atherosclerosis in humans.
Carnitine is an amino acid that is naturally found in red meat and dairy products. Other natural sources of carnitine include nuts and seeds, legumes, apricots and bananas, and other health foods. It is commonly used as a food supplement.
The study found even worse news. A high Carnitine diet causes the growth of even more TMAO making matters even worse. The research team tested the carnitine and TMAO levels of meat eaters, vegans and vegetarians. All in all they examined the clinical data of 2,595 patients.