Considered here are those amines found in foods and in the body:
TyramineThe most often researched as it is implicated in reactions in people on MAOI medication.
Tyramine is produced from the amino acid tyrosine, particularly that present in the dairy protein, casein. It is developed during cheese making by bacteria with decarboxylase enzymes.
As Reactions in people on MAOI’s have been assumed to be due to the para Tyramine [p-TA] it has been analysed, but the meta form has also been reported to have marked effects on neurotransmitter amines – dopamine, noradrenaline and 5-Hydroxy Tryptamine.
Phenyl ethyl aminePhenyl ethyl amine is formed by microbial decarboxylation of the aromatic amino acid phenylalanine. It is the amine that causes reactions to chocolate.
Tryptamine is formed from the amino acid tyrosine.
Catecholamines – includes noradrenaline [NA], adrenaline [A], and dopamine [DA]
are neurotransmitter amines produced in the body.
5-Hydroxytryptamine [5-HT] – an blood vessel constrictor produced in the body.
Histamine [H] – a powerful vasodilator
Diamines – putrescine and cadaverine – produced as foods deteriorate
Polyamines – agamatine, spermidine, spermine
What is the position in USA? McCabe’s review of 1986 provides a good review. Two points made are that iron deficiency seems to lower levels of MAO enzymes, and that the tyramine content cannot be predicted from appearance, flavour or variety. These are of clinical interest as many patients presenting for investigation of suspected food sensitivity have low iron levels which recover when they lower their salicylate intake. Perhaps the researchers are correct in saying the tyramine content cannot be predicted from appearance, flavour or variety by researchers, but importantly, as described above, the tolerance itself can be predicted in those who have learned what change affect their tolerance via smell. Food sensitive people, who usually have a supersensitive sense of smell, are often able to detect changes that others do not notice.
The UK Manual of dietetic practice [Thomas 1994] provides a very useful table including a note to exclude any food which has previously produced unpleasant symptoms, and also to “eat fresh to reduce degradation of protein”.
A suggested article to read is that by Kenneth et al  which emphasises concern about foods which combine more than one ingredient likely to be high in amines, such as pizzas containing pepperoni and mozzarella cheese and vegie burgers which contain soy products and sauces. It is reported that pizzas will be tolerated if the ingredients are fresh.
High tyramine levels are reported in soy products with fermented soybean and bean curd [fermented tofu], and chilli soybean paste. The article recommends that all soy sauces and indeed all soybean products should be avoided.
Reported amounts of biogenic amines in food
Some points of interest
Food mg/100gm Tyramine TA
Stilton – blue 217 Note – different
Canadian Chedder 25 – 150 researchers provide
Eng & NZ Chedder 50 – 100 different results
Gruyer 5 – 25
Brie, cream cheese, cottage NT [not detected]
Pickled herring 303 [Others found 30-50]
Belgian dry sausage 151
Chicken liver 10 – 30
Other results 1 – 10
Banana 1 – 10
Lemon juice 2.5
Sauer Kraut 2 – 10
Chocolate .01 – 1
Yeast extract English 10 – 220
Canadian 7 – 8
Soy Sauce Japan 15 – 90
Wine .02 – 2.5
Beer .1 – 2.2
BBQ & other fermented sauces no data available.
Food mgm/100gm Phenylethylamine PEA
Mild chedder 0 – 44 PEA does not increase with aging
Chocolate .1 – 1.4 most in unsweetened
Cotto Salami 70
Rapeseed cake 9
Food mgm/100gm Tryptamine T
Chedder cheese 0 – 4
Highest levels in blue cheese 100
Meat products 1 – 3 decrease on cooking but increase with putrefaction
Food mgm/100gm noradrenaline NA, adrenaline A, dopamine DA
banana .14 – 2 NA
banana .8 – 8 DA
avocado .4 – .5 DA
Food mgm/100gm 5-Hydroxytryptamine 5-HT
banana 1 – 3 5-HT
ripe tomato 0 – 1.2 5-HT
chocolate .1 – 2.7 5-HT
Food mgm/100gm Histamine H
Grape juice concentrate 3.5
Spinach, eggplant, corn 2 – 6
Yeast extracts 20 – 280
Soy sauce 0 – 27
Sauerkraut 1 – 20
Red wine 1 – 2 see also C Stockley
Pepperoni 1 – 55
Putrefied ham 2 – 9
Sashami raw tuna 920
Tuna scombroid incidents 10 – 300
Acceptable 1 – 28
Decomposed 2 – 714
Swiss cheese 116 – 250
Blue cheese 230
Sharp cheddar 5 – 130
Meat products 0 – present if improper handling
Food mgm/100gm Diamines – putrescine and cadaverine
Sea foods <15 – dramatic increase if spoiled increases to 58
They may act as Histamine potentiators in scombroid poisoning,
and can react with nitrate to produce carcinogenic compounds.
Meat e g pork <1 – if putrefied increases to 25 of C, 149 S
Food mgm/100gm Polyamines – agamatine, spermidine, spermine
Sea food <5 – same in wholesome and decomposed
Meat e g pork <1 – if putrefied increases to 806 S, 340 S
Fresh ham and sausages <25 – if smoked they increase
Also reported in tomatoes, bananas, apples, oranges – levels not given
Sprouts develop amines as they deteriorate
Chives contain – tyramine, putrescine, cadaverine, spermine and spermidine!! Amounts are not known. Test carefully after diet is established!