Whether you suffer from chronic halitosis or sporadic oral odor, it can be hard to identify bad breath causes. After all, while few things contribute freshening breath - namely, reigning in bacterial growth by using an oxygenating oral product - many different factors can ruin your breath, often in a matter of minutes.
For instance, eating an imbalanced diet can leave your mouth smelling bad in more than one way. Of course, consuming pungent foods like cabbage or garlic can stink up your palate. But more subtly, nutrient-poor meals may lead to halitosis simply by giving your body too few vitamins to work with.
This phenomenon recently appeared in an article in the Journal of Breath Research. A team from Metabolic Solutions, Inc. and the University of Florida found that a specialty molecular test can detect one of the more dangerous bad breath causes: vitamin B12 deficiency.
The group announced that they developed a breath test that measures carbon-13 levels in the air a person exhales.
Carbon-13 is a naturally occurring isotope of the element, accounting for about 1 percent of all carbon on Earth. Researchers discovered that how the body processes molecules containing carbon-13 can indicate whether a person is getting enough B12 in their diet. This simple workaround could lead to a simple, accurate test for B12 deficiency based on little more than a puff of bad breath.
The authors explained that the body needs B12 in order to process a molecule called 1-13C-propionate into regular carbon dioxide. They found that patients with high levels of 1-13C-propionate on their breath could be non-invasively diagnosed with a vitamin deficiency.
Low vitamin B12 levels can lead to anemia, the National Institutes of Health warns. By eating a wholesome diet, you may be able to skirt a potentially serious bad breath cause. And of course, if you get halitosis, you can always fall back on specialty breath freshening products.