Blood clots: The supplement that could cause blood cells to stick together – warning

British Heart Foundation: Understanding blood clots

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Supplements promise various health benefits, but their safety is widely debated. When complications occur, it tends to be because a user has failed to comply with dosage guidelines. Prolonged use of some supplements, however, can also prove problematic. In one study, volunteers who took choline supplements for two months had an increased risk of blood platelets sticking together.

Research published in the journal Circulation, discovered potential blood clotting risks associated with the compound choline in a sample of 18 healthy volunteers.

Volunteers given choline supplements saw an increase in their production of a chemical called TMAO, it was observed.

According to the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health (HSPH), TMAO is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

In fact, volunteers who took choline supplements for up to two months had a more than 10-fold increase in blood levels of TMAO.

They also noticed that the tendency of blood platelets to clump together had significantly increased, in line with the higher TMAO levels.

The risk of blood clotting, however, appeared to be countered by taking low-dose aspirin.

The HSPH warns that a high intake of choline can cause other symptoms like sweating, and nausea, or induce a fishy body odour.

In some instances, it has been identified as the cause of low blood pressure- hypotension – and liver toxicity.

HSPH explains: “The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for choline for adults 19 years and older is 3,500mg daily and is based on the amount that has been shown to produce these side effects.

“Reaching this high amount would most likely be caused by taking very high dose supplements rather than from diet alone.”

Why does the body need choline?

In previous conversation with, Suzie Sawyer, Clinical Nutritionist from Amino-science, broke down the role of choline in the body.

She explained: “Eggs […] contain choline, which is required to produce acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in regulating memory, mood and intelligence.”

To ensure the body gets enough choline, the expert recommends increasing your intake of eggs in the morning.

“Start the day with a breakfast containing eggs in some form. Eggs contain all nine essential amino acids,” she noted.

Because choline also plays a role in the function of liver and brain function, supplements are sometimes taken for the prevention of fatty liver disease.

The nutrient is also used by the body during pregnancy, and a deficiency during gestation could lead to birth defects.

This is why it’s essential for pregnant women to get enough choline from their diet.

The HSPH explains that foods rich in choline, such as liver and red meat, tend to be higher in saturated fat.

The nutrient, however, can also be found in foods lower in saturated fat like salmon, cod, chicken breast and legumes.

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