Dietary precursors of trimethylamine in man: a pilot study

Food Chem Toxicol. 1999 May;37(5):515-20. doi: 10.1016/s0278-6915(99)00028-9.


An increased urinary excretion of trimethylamine and its N-oxide were observed in man following the oral intake (15 mmol) of choline (63% dose as trimethylamine and its N-oxide), D,L-carnitine (31% dose) and trimethylamine N-oxide (78% dose). Similar ingestion of betaine, creatinine or lecithin failed to elicit any significant increases. Of 46 different foods investigated, only fish and other sea-products gave rise to significant increases in urinary trimethylamine and N-oxide. Ingestion of fruits, vegetables, cereal and dairy produce, and meats had no measurable effects. Reasons for the apparent lack of trimethylamine provision by foods previously thought to be precursors are given and the role of gut microflora highlighted.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Choline / metabolism*
  • Diet*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methylamines / urine*
  • Oxidants / urine*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Reference Values


  • Methylamines
  • Oxidants
  • trimethyloxamine
  • trimethylamine
  • Choline