By: Stephanie Anderson
Betaine anhydrous trimethylglycine (TMG) can potentially help address various health concerns or diseases, such as depression, osteoarthritis and congestive heart failure (CHF) and may even support liver function (x). Although many doctors promote the benefits of betaine, there is no medical evidence stating that betaine can completely cure, prevent or treat any disease. Consult a doctor before adding any supplements to your diet.
What is Betaine Anhydrous Trimethylglycine (TMG)?
In the human body, betaine anhydrous is naturally derived from the breakdown of choline, an essential bodily nutrient. Betaine is actually a category of molecules. Chemically, betaine anhydrous is a modified amino acid which consists of glycine with three methyl groups (one carbon atom attached to three hydrogen atoms) attached to it. This means that betaine anhydrous acts as a methyl donor and can assist with genetic activity and protein function in the body (x). The process of methyl groups getting transported through the body is called methylation. It is vastly important for many biochemical reactions (x).
Food Sources of Betaine
The name for “betaine” comes from its original discovery in sugar beets in the 19th century, yet they don’t have the highest concentration of betaine (x). According to studies, foods like quinoa and spinach contain 200 to 300 more grams of TMG than beets (x).
Keep in mind that cooking and processing can destroy much of dietary TMG, so food isn’t always the most reliable and efficient (x).
What Does Betaine Anhydrous Do for the Body?
TMG supplements can potentially offer the body plenty of benefits. What exactly is betaine used for in order to reap those benefits? Because TMG is a methyl donor, researchers believe that it helps produce S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), which is a form of methionine. SAMe plays a role in the immune system and helps maintain cell membranes, as well as breaking down chemicals like dopamine and melatonin in the brain. This same chemical compound also works with choline, folic acid and vitamin B12, which, like TMG, may all be supplemented to help heart and liver diseases (x).
Increased alcohol intake, obesity or diabetes can cause fatty acids to settle inside the liver. There is naturally fat within the liver, but too much of it can cause problems. Betaine is a lipotrope, which means it helps catalyze the breakdown of fats. So, supplementing with betaine may help support the body’s natural processes that prevent and reduce fat accumulation in the liver (x).
Methylation of homocysteine into methionine happens in the liver. Methyl donors, such as betaine, assist in metabolic (biochemical) reactions in the body, so inadequate methyl groups can interfere with proper metabolic function. Certain diseases, such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFL), can interfere with methylation. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is when there is an increased presence of fat in the liver, but is not caused by alcohol consumption (x).
Researchers have conducted several studies in an attempt to investigate betaine’s properties that may help reverse NAFL and other liver problems, such as insulin resistance in diabetes. One study evaluated the effects betaine supplements on mice that were fed a high-fat diet. These supplements not only may have reversed the insulin resistance caused by their diet, but it also didn’t appear to significantly change the mice’s body weight (x). However, researchers have yet to find the same results in human studies.
Betaine may play a huge role in heart health because it may be able to reduce homocysteine levels in the blood. Homocysteine is a naturally occurring substance in the body and is an important amino acid for building proteins, but too much of it can damage the lining of the arteries, increasing the risk for blood clots, heart disease, stroke, coronary artery disease or a heart attack (x). Betaine can donate methyl groups to homocysteine molecules, which transforms them into methionine, a harmless bodily substance. Methionine is important to the body because it is an amino acid, and therefore an important building block of proteins (x, x).
Muscle Mass & Athletic Performance
Researchers have studied betaine as a supplement to athletes for years, mainly how it may help the muscles and stimulate protein synthesis. As a naturally occurring substance, betaine is an osmolyte, meaning it helps control the level of fluids, predominantly water outside and inside cells. This is especially important because imbalance can cause cell rupture and even cell death. In fact, in lab settings, researchers suggest that osmolytes can stabilize membranes and proteins even in conditions such as drought, low temperatures and high salt levels (x).
A 2010 study at Connecticut University links betaine consumption to athletic performance. The study concluded that athletes who consumed 1.25 g of betaine daily experienced a 25% increase in strength and a 20% increase in muscle mass. Similarly, the study suggested that betaine may increase factors affecting protein synthesis in the muscles (x).
Betaine may also reduce lactate levels, potentially delaying fatigue so that athletes can train longer. In addition, betaine may help lower nitric oxide levels, which help to regulate the volume of cellular fluids and also promote muscle growth (x, x).
Homocystinuria is a rare genetic disease in which the body cannot break down the amino acid methionine, leading to high levels of homocysteine in the urine. Methionine is a protein that babies need to grow and that adults need to regulate nitrogen in the body. Nitrogen is a key component of not only amino acids, but also human DNA. There are different forms of homocystinuria with different symptoms and genetic causes. The most common signs include:
- Myopia (nearsightedness)
- Dislocation of the lens at the front of the eye
- Increased risk for blood clots
- Brittle bones at a higher risk for fractures (osteoporosis)
But homocystinuria is a pretty rare disease. Only 1 in every 200,000 to 300,000 babies are born with it in the U.S. (x, x). Sometimes it can result from reduced activity of an enzyme—proteins that accelerate the rate of bodily chemical reactions—called cystathionine beta-synthase (CBS), which helps break down methionine (x).
Studies in healthy volunteers suggested that taking 6 g of betaine may lower homocysteine concentrations by 5 to 20% (x). Researchers conducted five studies between 2002 and 2010 to observe the effects of betaine on homocysteine, using healthy adult volunteers. These volunteers supplemented with at least 4 g of betaine for periods of six to 24 weeks, suggesting that a minimum 6-week period of supplementation may help lower homocysteine levels (x).
However, betaine anhydrous supplements are not an adequate replacement for medical treatment. They are not intended to treat or prevent any disease. Always consult a doctor before you add betaine supplements to your diet.
How to Use Betaine Supplements
Frequently, people take betaine supplements before a workout. There are many benefits to using betaine in conjunction with exercise. It may support the factors that affect protein synthesis in the muscles and increase strength. The suggested serving size for betaine anhydrous (TMG) powder is 750-1,500 mg per day, or as directed by a physician.
Possible Side Effects of Betaine Supplements
The good news about TMG side effects is that they’re pretty common and mild. The most common side effects of TMG are nausea, upset stomach and diarrhea. Always call a doctor if you experience muscle weakness, memory problems or problems with balance, walking or speaking. TMG is likely safe if taken in appropriate doses for the patient’s age (x).
Other Warnings & Precautions
Research has not concluded on its safety for pregnancy or breastfeeding and if it may be able to pass into breast milk and harm a nursing baby. Do not take it during pregnancy or breastfeeding unless a doctor advises it (x).
Although the potential benefits may outweigh the disadvantages, physicians cannot confirm its safety in the long term. It may increase cholesterol levels, which might cancel out some of its potential benefits on the heart (x). Patients with high cholesterol should speak to a doctor before taking betaine supplements.
Where to Buy Betaine Anhydrous (TMG) Supplements
You can purchase betaine anhydrous supplements at BulkSupplements.com. The company is an industry-leading manufacturer and distributor for pure dietary supplements. BulkSupplements.com is not just a consumer brand. It also supplies pure ingredients to other brands that distribute food and other supplement products. All products at BulkSupplements.com are manufactured and tested according to current and proper manufacturing practices.
Are you interested in trying betaine for its potential benefits on heart health, liver function and muscle-building? Contact BulkSupplements.com to place an order today.
Betaine anhydrous has several natural roles in the body and supplements may perform similar actions, specifically on the heart, liver and muscles. It is present in common fruits and vegetables, such as spinach, beets, lentils and asparagus. Betaine has a reputation as a pre-workout supplement, with the potential to promote protein synthesis, as well as increase strength and muscle. Studies suggest that it may be able to reverse insulin resistance in the liver and reduce the amount of homocysteine in the blood to support heart health.
Like any supplement, betaine may cause mild side effects or interact with medications and previously existing medical conditions. Patients with high cholesterol, or are pregnant or nursing, are recommended to approach with caution, since there is limited research on it as a supplement. Make sure to consult a doctor to determine if betaine anhydrous supplements are right for you and your health goals.
**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.