photo by |[ sykez ]|
The human body, when functioning properly, produces an enzyme called Flavin containing monooxygenase 3 (FM03). When the body does not produce this enzyme, or if it doesn’t produce enough of it, the body is not able to break down trimethylamine. See, normally trimethylamine goes through N-oxygenation to produce trimethylamine oxide. Without this oxidation process, food and other organic compounds essentially decompose in the body. Trimethylamine builds up, and that decomposing smell comes out of the person – through their breath and sweat. They end up smelling really fishy.
When someone doesn’t produce that enzyme, and therefore can’t break down trimethylamine, that means they have a disorder called TMAU (Trimethlyaminuria, or fish odor syndrome). It is a rare disorder that is devastating to the people who suffer with it. Especially kids, because other kids can be so mean. There are several websites out there that offer resources for sufferers of the disease. Genetic scientists are doing some research on the gene, trying to see what conditions are related to TMAU, and what other disorders could cause the symptoms. If the disorder isn’t genetic, it can sometimes be brought on by problems with the liver, especially hepatitis.
There are ways to manage the symptoms, but there is no cure for the disorder at this time. Some people just stay away from certain types of food and it reduces the smell. Others take low doses of antibiotic, or take a charcoal supplement to help with the oxidation process that is missing.