The cause for a fish to smell fishy is the compound trimethylamine. The cause for an individual to give off an abnormal strong smelling body odor, routinely described as a strong fishy smell, is the same compound.
Under normal conditions, when trimethylamine compound, and its precursors, are consumed in your everyday diets, your body converts them to a compound that does not smell. However, some individuals have a metabolic condition in which their body has the inability to make this conversion. This condition is known as trimethylaminuria.
Individuals with trimethylaminuria end up with a build up of trimethylamine, which is then released through their sweat, urine, reproductive fluids, and breath. Thus giving off a strong smelling fishy odor. Sadly, some people have this strong natural odor all the time, while others have a moderate smell intensity variance.
There are no physical symptoms with this condition and individuals appear healthy. The condition seems to be more prevalent in women, with a strong suspicion female sex hormones are to blame. Reportedly the smelly fishy odor condition worsens around:
There is currently no cure for trimethylaminuria. However, it is possible for those living with this abnormal body odor condition to live normal, healthy lives.
A natural diet remedy for lowering the level of trimethylaminuria’s fishy smelling odor emissions is by avoiding foods containing trimethylamine. Along with diet consumption reduction of its precursors choline, lecithin and trimethylamine N-oxide.
Trimethylamine is naturally present in high levels in the milk of wheat fed cows. Trimethylamine N-oxide is present in seafood, and freshwater fish have lower levels. Choline is present in high amounts in:
- peas & beans
- soy products
- liver & kidney
- lecithin & lecithin-containing fish oil supplements
- brassicas ~ brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage & cauliflower
It is important to note that limiting your intake through dietary restrictions of these foods can result in nutritional deficits.
And pregnant or breast feeding women need to consult with their physician before restricting choline, as it is essential for fetus and infant nerve and brain development.
Other natural remedy, remedies and dietary changes which may help control your strong fishy smelling body odor include:
- activated charcoal~ 750mg twice a day for ten days
- copper chlorophyllin~ 60mg three times a day after meals for three weeks
- supplements that decrease the concentration of free trimethylamine in the urine
- soaps with a moderate pH, 5.5 – 6.5, helps retain the secreted trimethylamine in a less volatile form
- laxatives can decrease intestinal transit time, therefore reducing amount of trimethylamine your gut produces
- low doses of antibiotics to reduce the amount of bacteria in your gut, suppressing production of trimethylamine
- take measures to avoid sweating while in the presence of others during exercise, stress and emotional upsets
- riboflavin ~ vitamin B2 supplements to enhance impaired enzyme activity ~ recommended intake 30-40mg, 3-5 times daily with meals
These treatment approaches should always be done in coordination with you doctor. Always remember that it is not your fault you have this metabolic condition.
Without being too technical, trimethylaminuria sufferers have an impaired enzyme that is responsible for trimethylamine conversion. And worth noting, it takes two parent carriers of this altered gene, who typically have mild or no symptoms.
Unfortunately, enzyme replacement therapy of the problem enzyme is not yet an option in trimethylaminuria management. Not yet anyway. Hang in there, science is on the hunt.