Beetroot was the first food source that betaine was isolated from, and it's commonly used in research to further understand the benefits of betaine on the human body.

Traditional Health Benefits of Betaine

Betaine is a methylating agent1 that is produced naturally in the body, consumed through the diet, and taken as a supplement. Since its discovery in the 19th century, betaine has been found to not only be crucial to cellular processes in the body, but it offers numerous health benefits as well. Let's take a closer look at the mechanisms behind betaine, and the benefits this powerful amino acid offers. Betaine is an amino acid that is also known as trimethylglycine. Structurally it is the amino acid called glycine with three methyl groups attached. This makes trimethylglycine a betaine molecule. It is important to understand that trimethylglycine is the most popular betaine2, and the first betaine discovered. So for those reasons, the names trimethylglycine and betaine are used interchangeably.

What is Betaine Used for?

Betaine may have numerous benefits to the mind and body, including the following: Boosts Cardiovascular Health, Improves Cognitive Brain Function, Aids in Resistance Training and Muscle Growth, Treats Liver Disease and Helps Prevent Diabetes

Benefits of Betaine

Betaine is a naturally occurring methyl agent in the body that is also popular as a dietary supplement. Its health benefits reach to those who have cardiovascular disease, liver disease, impaired cognitive functions and diabetes Cardiovascular Health Over 600,000 people a year die from cardiovascular disease, according to the CDC. The disease narrows or blocks of arteries3 which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Conditions that have a negative effect on heart muscles, rhythm and valves are also considered to be a part of the broader term of cardiovascular disease. Individuals with elevated levels of plasma total homocysteine are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Studies4 show that the ability of betaine to stabilize circulating homocysteine lowers the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. A different study5 claims that individuals who consumed either betaine supplements or consumed additional betaine reaped the benefits of lowering their risk of developing heart disease. Cognitive Brain Function Although betaine is most notably known for its benefits related to cardiovascular function, this mighty molecule also offers benefits to cognitive health as well. One study researched the effects of betaine on cognitive function. The results showed that those who consumed higher levels of betaine exhibited improved memory function6. Resistance Training and Muscle Growth The effects of betaine have been studied in men who participate in resistance training. Studies suggest enhanced muscle oxygen consumption. This same study7 also shows an increase in total repetitions and volume load in bench press exercises. A different study8 showed that six weeks of betaine supplementation resulted in improved body composition, arm size, as well as it increased the capabilities of bench press workouts. Liver Disease Treatment One of the most common symptoms of liver disease is some form of malnutrition. Studies9 show that increased consumption of betaine in individuals with liver disease resulted in the improvement of liver enzymes and liver histology. Additional research10 suggests betaine may be a great therapeutic agent for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Diabetes Prevention Diabetes is a prevalent disease that affects millions of people in the U.S. Studies11 show that increased consumption of betaine can prevent or delay the incidence of developing diabetes for up to 10 years.

How to Use Betaine & Foods that Contain Betaine

The body does produce betaine on its own. The liver and the kidneys are responsible12 for the synthesis of naturally occurring betaine in the body. For those looking to increase levels of betaine, it can be consumed orally, typically through food sources or as a dietary supplement. A study13 conducted in the UK shows that the addition of betaine to food is an effective way to consume adequate quantities of betaine for cardiovascular benefits. A separate study focused on the effect of beetroot juice on blood pressure. The results14 show that the consumption of beetroot juice reduces the blood pressure in men who are otherwise healthy. In addition to numerous betaine containing food sources, over the counter supplements are also available. Those looking to increase levels of betaine can turn to food sources. Beetroot is the dietary food known to be the highest in concentrations of betaine, but it can also be found in other foods15 such as: Beets Sweet Potato Turkey Shrimp Veal Beef

Recommended Daily Allowance of Betaine

Betaine is not currently regulated by the FDA. More research is needed in order to establish recommended daily allowances. It is important to consult with your medical professional, as current health condition and the reasons for taking are important when determining optimal daily doses of betaine. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take betaine.

Is Betaine Healthy?

Betaine is a naturally occurring methyl agent in the body that is also popular as a dietary supplement. Its health benefits reach to those who have cardiovascular disease, liver disease, impaired cognitive functions and diabetes. Consuming betaine can help you start living a healthier life.

Citations and Sources

1. PubChem P. Betaine. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Accessed April 23, 2019. 2. Trimethylglycine: Proven Health Benefits, Dosage, and more. Published January 16, 2014. Accessed April 23, 2019. 3. Heart disease - Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. Accessed April 23, 2019. 4. Steenge G, Verhoef P, Katan M. Betaine supplementation lowers plasma homocysteine in healthy men and women. J Nutr. 2003;133(5):1291-1295. 5. Olthof M, van V, Boelsma E, Verhoef P. Low dose betaine supplementation leads to immediate and long term lowering of plasma homocysteine in healthy men and women. J Nutr. 2003;133(12):4135-4138. 6. Eussen S, Ueland P, Clarke R, et al. The association of betaine, homocysteine and related metabolites with cognitive function in Dutch elderly people. Br J Nutr. 2007;98(5):960-968. 7. Trepanowski J, Farney T, McCarthy C, Schilling B, Craig S, Bloomer R. The effects of chronic betaine supplementation on exercise performance, skeletal muscle oxygen saturation and associated biochemical parameters in resistance trained men. J Strength Cond Res. 2011;25(12):3461-3471. 8. Cholewa J, Wyszczelska-Rokiel M, Glowacki R, et al. Effects of betaine on body composition, performance, and homocysteine thiolactone. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013;10(1):39. 9. Hanje A, Fortune B, Song M, Hill D, McClain C. The use of selected nutrition supplements and complementary and alternative medicine in liver disease. Nutr Clin Pract. 2006;21(3):255-272. 10. Wang Z, Yao T, Pini M, Zhou Z, Fantuzzi G, Song Z. Betaine improved adipose tissue function in mice fed a high-fat diet: a mechanism for hepatoprotective effect of betaine in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2010;298(5):G634-42. 11. Ejaz A, Martinez-Guino L, Goldfine A, et al. Dietary Betaine Supplementation Increases Fgf21 Levels to Improve Glucose Homeostasis and Reduce Hepatic Lipid Accumulation in Mice. Diabetes. 2016;65(4):902-912. 12. Day C, Kempson S. Betaine chemistry, roles, and potential use in liver disease. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2016;1860(6):1098-1106. 13. Hobbs D, Goulding M, Nguyen A, et al. Acute ingestion of beetroot bread increases endothelium-independent vasodilation and lowers diastolic blood pressure in healthy men: a randomized controlled trial. J Nutr. 2013;143(9):1399-1405. 14. Coles L, Clifton P. Effect of beetroot juice on lowering blood pressure in free-living, disease-free adults: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Nutr J. 2012;11:106. 15. Rajaie S, Esmaillzadeh A. Dietary choline and betaine intakes and risk of cardiovascular diseases: review of epidemiological evidence. ARYA Atheroscler. 2011;7(2):78-86.

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