We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Trimethylaminuria?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Trimethylaminuria is a rare recessive genetic condition which causes people to have a fishy body odor. This condition is not harmful to physical health, although some people with trimethylaminuria experience emotional distress and social hardships as a result of the smell, which can sometimes be quite strong. It is not possible to cure this condition, but it can be managed, and there are a number of ways in which people can reduce the fishy odor if it becomes an issue.

In order to have trimethylaminuria, someone must inherit both copies of the defective gene. The condition is actually a metabolic disorder, caused by lack of the enzyme which breaks down trimethylamine. Because the body cannot break it down, trimethylamine is expressed in body fluids like sweat, urine, and mucus, and this compound is responsible for the fishy smell. Some people who carry one copy of the gene may experience body odor problems, but usually both copies are needed for symptoms to appear.

This condition appears to be more common in women, although it is not sex linked. Researchers have theorized that female hormones could make trimethylaminuria worse or more noticeable, and that men who have the condition may not always be aware of it because the symptoms are low level. A doctor can diagnose trimethylaminuria by testing the urine for trimethylamine, performing genetic testing to look for the rogue gene responsible, or subjecting the patient to a challenge test in which a large dosage of trimethylamine is given and followed through the body.

Controlling the diet is the most effective way to cut down on the fishy smell, by reducing foods which contain precursors to trimethylamine. Foods rich in sulfur, nitrogen, and choline such as eggs, fish, and beans should be avoided or eaten in moderation. Some patients also have success with activated charcoal tablets, which appear to reduce the odor for many patients. A doctor or nutritionist can help a patient find foods which are safe to eat while balancing nutritional needs.

People with trimethylaminuria can experience psychological hardship as a result of their body odor, and some doctors recommend going to counseling in addition to pursuing measures to control the disorder. Patients may find it beneficial to attend therapy so that they can talk about their experiences and develop coping techniques for social situations. Young children especially can benefit from therapy, as their classmates may tease them for their body odor.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.