Background: l-Methionine (Met) is an essential amino acid for humans and is important for protein synthesis and the formation of polyamines and is involved in the synthesis of many metabolites, including homocysteine. Free-Met supplements have been claimed to have multiple positive effects; however, it remains unclear what the exact tolerance level is. With aging, Met metabolism changes, and increased plasma homocysteine is more apparent. High plasma concentrations of homocysteine are assumed to be associated with a high risk of developing atherosclerosis.Objective: We estimated the no-observed-adverse-effect level (NOAEL) and the lowest-observed-adverse-effect level (LOAEL) of supplemented, oral, free Met in healthy older adults by examining the increase in plasma homocysteine as the primary determinant.Design: We provided capsules with free Met to 15 healthy older adult subjects for 4 wk at climbing dosages of, on average, 9.2, 22.5, 46.3 and 91 mg · kg body weight-1 · d-1 with washout periods of 2 wk between each intake. Before, at 2 and 4 wk during, and 2 wk after each dosage, we studied a complete panel of biochemical blood variables to detect possible intolerance to increased Met intake. Plasma homocysteine and body composition were measured, and tolerance, quality of life, and cognitive function were assessed via questionnaires.Results: Plasma homocysteine was elevated with the highest dose of supplemented Met. The estimated NOAEL of supplemented Met was set at 46.3 mg · kg body weight-1 · d-1, and the estimated LOAEL of supplemented Met was set at 91 mg · kg body weight-1 · d-1 (on the basis of the actual intakes) in subjects independent of sex. No signs of intolerance were observed via questionnaires or other blood variables at the LOAEL. There were no meaningful changes in body composition.Conclusions: On the basis of plasma homocysteine, the NOAEL of supplemented Met intake is 46.3 and the LOAEL is 91 mg · kg body weight-1 · d-1 in healthy older adults. Both the NOAEL and LOAEL are not associated with meaningful effects on health and wellbeing. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT02566434.
Keywords: Tolerable Upper Intake Level; dietary methionine; homocysteine; lowest-observed-adverse-effect level; older adults; tolerance.
© 2017 American Society for Nutrition.