n-Butyrate Concentration

A healthy result should fall into the range 3.6 - 100 micromol/g.

This short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) is produced as a result of the fermentation of dietary fibre, particularly gums and pectins, by certain bacteria that inhabit the intestines (particularly probiotic bacteria such as Lactobacilli and Bifodobacteria species).

An n-butyrate level within the reference range is first and foremost then, an indicator that such health promoting bacteria are present in sufficient amounts. A low n-butyrate level in this respect may indicate a deficiency of beneficial bacteria while a high level suggests a general bacterial overgrowth caused by factors such as low stomach acid or high carbohydrate/fibre diets. In the former case probiotic supplements may be required while in the latter antibiotic therapy, whether drug-based or natural, may be needed.

n-Butyrate is the preferred fuel for the cells of the colon, helping to keep them healthy. In this role it helps to regulate the differentiation and proliferation of these cells and has been associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer. This SCFA is also important for controlling general inflammation of the GI tract since it reduces the production of pro-inflammatory immune chemicals such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a). Recent research has shown that through this mechanism n-butyrate may be helpful in digestive disease such as Crohn's disease and celiac disease.

If n-butyrate levels are low the suggested therapy is likely to be increasing fibre in the diet, particularly gums and pectins, and using probiotic and possibly butyrate supplements. Gums and pectins are found in large amounts in many fruits, particularly citrus fruits and harder fruits such as apples.

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