High Methane In Breath Test At Baseline May Indicate Vitamin B12 Shortage

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Welcome to my blog “High Methane (HM) In Breath Test At Baseline May Indicate Vitamin B12 Shortage”.

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What Is Methane?

It is a type of gas produced by an organism in the human gut called methanogens. Elevated levels of methane in SIBO breath testing has been associated with constipation in the research. It is now referred to as intestinal methanogen overgrowth.

Methane is an end product of microbial fermentation in the human gastrointestinal tract. This gas is solely produced by an archaeal subpopulation of the human microbiome. Increased methane production has been associated with abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, IBD, or other conditions. Twenty percent of the (healthy) Western populations innately exhale substantially higher amounts (>5 ppm) of this gas.

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What Does A High Methane Breath Test Result Mean?

We assessed the breath methane content, the gastrointestinal microbiome, its function and metabolome, and dietary intake of one-hundred healthy young adults. On the basis of the amount of methane emitted, participants were grouped into HM emitters (CH4 breath content 5–75 ppm) and low emitters (CH4 < 5 ppm).

The microbiomes of HM emitters were characterized by a 1000-fold increase in Methanobrevibacter smithii. This archaeon co-occurred with a bacterial community specialized on dietary fibre degradation, which included members of Ruminococcaceae and Christensenellaceae. As confirmed by metagenomics and metabolomics, the biology of HM producers was further characterized by increased formate and acetate levels in the gut. These metabolites were strongly correlated with dietary habits, such as vitamin, fat and fibre intake, and microbiome function, altogether driving archaeal methanogenesis.

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Conclusions:

HM baseline emission in breath mirrors a complex situation of the human physiology, including vitamin B12 shortage and increased formate levels in the GIT. Higher formate levels were earlier, and independently from methane breath analyses, correlated with positive foetal development, T cell activation, a lean phenotype, and cardiovascular function. Thus, the correlation of HM emission and formate concentration warrants future research. Moreover, as we revealed the impact of dietary fibre, vitamin and fat uptake on methanogenic activity, dietary modulations (e.g. vitamin B12 supplementation) could be used for the mitigation of methane-associated disorders, such as constipation

Resources

  • Reduced B12 uptake and increased gastrointestinal formate are associated with archaeome-mediated breath methane emission in humans (click here)
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