Betaine is an amino acid that has been shown to have potential benefits for fighting heart disease, improving body composition, and helping promote muscle gain and fat loss because of its abilities to promote protein synthesis in the body.
Betaine, also known as trimethylglycine.
Choline is a “precursor” to betaine and must be present for betaine to be synthesized in the body. Betaine is created by choline in combination with the amino acid glycine. Just like folate and vitamin B12, betaine is considered to be a “methyl donor.” Betaine aids in liver function, detoxification and cellular functioning within the body. It’s most crucial role is to help the body process fats.
It’s used to convert homocysteine in the blood to methionine. Homocysteine is an amino acid that is produced by the body naturally. Amino acids are the building blocks of all the proteins in the body. Amino acids are critical compounds needed for many body functions, studies show that high levels of the amino acid homocysteine can be harmful to blood vessels, potentially leading to the development of plaque buildup and the condition called atherosclerosis (clogged arteries).(1) (2)
Betaine is usually taken with folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12.
Wheat bran/wheat germ is the single highest source of naturally occurring betaine but betaine can be found in spinach, beets, and ancient whole grains and certain types of meat and poultry.
Top Food Sources of Betaine
However, keep in mind most people do best getting between 650–2,000 milligrams of betaine per day.
1. Supports Heart Health
Betaine is best known for helping to reduce homocysteine levels in the blood, which is directly related to lowering risk for heart disease.
Liver Function and Detoxification
Betaine benefits liver health by assisting in detoxificationand the process of the liver digesting fats (lipids). Fat can accumulate to dangerous levels in the liver from conditions — such as alcohol, diabetes and other causes — but betaine is able to assist in liver detoxfunctions of breaking down and removing fats. (25)
Betaine also helps the liver to dispose of toxins and chemicals, preventing against damage to the digestive tract and other bodily damage that can result from toxin exposure. (26)
Aid in Digestion
Betaine HCI is thought to increase the concentration of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which is the acid that must be present in order to break down foods and to use nutrients. In certain groups of people who have low stomach acid, they can experience a range of digestive problems that betaine is able to help relieve. (28)
Taking betaine HCl before meals may be able to help the stomach make better use of food’s nutrients, to improve the health of the digestive tract, and because the immune system heavily relies on the health of the gut flora, even to boost immunity.
Relieve Aches and Pains
Betaine is used to treat alcoholic liver damage that results in the accumulation of fat in the liver. Betaine has lipotropic (fat-reducing) effects, so it has been shown to produce significant improvements in healing fatty liver disease by helping the liver to process and remove fats. (30)