WHAT IS COUMARIN?
Coumarin is a hydroxycinnamic acid and phytonutrient (a group of chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants and have multiple health benefits but are not considered essential to human health) which can be sourced from apricots, tonka beans and more. It does have some potential health benefits in humans but is also very dangerous as a food additive. In this article I will be providing a full overview of coumarin and outlining its potential health benefits and potential health risks.
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF COUMARIN?
Coumarin was first isolated in 1820 by A.Vogel. It was later synthesised by William Henry Perkin in 1868.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF COUMARIN?
Coumarin has a number of potential potential health benefits in the human body. However, more research is required before these health benefits can be validated. The list below highlights these potential health benefits of coumarin:
– Possibly acting as an analgesic (a substance that relieves pain).
– Possibly acting as an anticoagulant (a substance that stops the blood from clotting).
– Possibly acting as an anti-inflammatory (a substance which prevents unnecessary inflammation in the body).
– Possibly acting as an antiseptic (a substance that prevents the growth of disease causing microorganisms).
– Possibly protecting the capillaries from damage.
– Possibly preventing arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats).
– Possibly preventing cancer.
– Possibly preventing osteoporosis (reduced bone mineral density).
– Possibly preventing the replication of the human immunodeficiency virus (a virus that is often abbreviated to HIV and causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) which ultimately destroys the immune system).
– Possibly reducing high blood pressure.
– Possibly treating asthma (a respiratory disorder which causes breathing difficulties).
HOW MUCH COUMARIN DO YOU NEED?
Coumarin is not classed as an essential nutrient so no official recommended daily allowance (RDA) has been established. However, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has set a tolerable daily intake (TDI) of 0.1 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) of bodyweight which should not be exceeded.
WHICH FOODS CONTAIN COUMARIN?
Coumarin can be found in various plant based foods but the exact amounts they contain are not known. The list below outlines some of the best coumarin foods:
– Tonka Beans.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF CONSUMING TOO MUCH COUMARIN?
The levels of coumarin found in natural foods are believed to be safe. However, when coumarin is artificially added to food or other products (such as perfume) it can be very dangerous. Therefore, you should try to limit your intake of this hydroxycinnamic acid to natural sources only and also stick within the TDI of 0.1mg per kg of bodyweight. Failing to do this can lead to:
– Excessive bleeding.
– Interference with blood thinning medication.
– Kidney damage.
– Liver damage.
– Lung cancer.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF FAILING TO CONSUME ENOUGH COUMARIN?
Coumarin is not classed as an essential nutrient so no deficiency symptoms have been established.
Although coumarin is a phytonutrient with a number of potential health benefits, you have to be very careful when consuming this hydroxycinnamic acid. By all means enjoy apricots, cherries and strawberries but make sure that you keep your consumption within the TDI and avoid unnatural coumarin sources.