It Takes A Lot Of Choline To Get That Fishy Smell

In a recent issue, you ran an article on Interneuron Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Dr. Richard J. Wurtman ("Dick Wurtman's ideas aren't so crazy after all," People, Dec. 14). In that article, you discussed a new sports drink, developed by IPI and marketed by VeryFine. Based, in part, upon an interview with me, the article discussed the one potential side effect of administering choline, the active ingredient in the sports drink, to humans.

It is true that large quantities of choline, when ingested at one time, can cause people to have a fishy body odor. However, I do not believe that this will occur when people use the new sports drink.

The recommended usage, in which several quarts might be ingested over a period of several hours, should never come near delivering enough choline to overload the capacity to absorb it. Thus, even the thirstiest athlete could not drink enough of the sports drink at a single time to develop a fishy body odor.

Steven H. Zeisel

Chapel Hill, N.C.

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