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Betaine Benefits, Side Effects and Dosage

Betaine
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What is Betaine Anhydrous Trimethylglycine?

Betaine anhydrous trimethylglycine (TMG) is an amino acid, one of the building blocks of protein. TMG contains three methyl groups (hence the name trimethylglycine). It functions very closely with other nutrients like choline, folic acid, and vitamin B12.

The word “anhydrous” simply means “without the presence of water.” Betaine anhydrous is a naturally-occurring compound found in various grain and vegetable products.

Betaine TMG is unique because it has the ability to donate one of its methyl groups. This means that it can support essential chemical processes in our bodies like liver function, cell replication, and detoxification (x).

In addition to its use as a bodybuilding supplement, it may also relieve symptoms associated with several chronic diseases.

So how does betaine benefit your health?

Betaine Benefits

Athletic Performance

Originally studied for its use in patients with polio, doctors now use betaine to strengthen diseased and weak muscle tissue. Betaine could improve your performance in the gym by increasing your aerobic capacity, allowing you to work out longer and harder (x).

Studies also suggest betaine helps improve body composition, arm size, bench press work capacity, and overall power(x).

Research has also examined betaine’s effects on non-athletes. In one study of untrained collegiate-aged females, betaine lowered fat mass when paired with a resistance training program (x).

Along with dedicated exercise, betaine has the potential to decrease fat mass, increase lean muscle mass, and improve overall power.

Hepatitis and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Outside of the world of athletics, betaine is also being studied for its potential effects on various chronic diseases, one of which is hepatitis.

Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver. There are several types of hepatitis. One type is caused by overconsumption of alcohol. Another type, Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is unrelated to the consumption of alcohol. Instead, this form of hepatitis develops due to an accumulation of fat in the liver. While they originate from different sources, both of these conditions are serious and lead to inflammation and possible cirrhosis (death) of the liver (x). NAFLD is more common in obese individuals or in those who eat a high-fat diet.

But betaine may act as a remedy for NAFLD because it’s a lipotrope–a compound that prevents the accumulation of fat in the liver (x). In a clinical study of patients with NAFLD, supplementation of 20 grams daily of betaine for 12 months decreased liver inflammation with no side effects (x).

Heart-Healthy

Homocysteine is an amino acid found in the blood. High levels of homocysteine can lead to heart disease, dementia, and metabolic disorders (x) (x).

Studies suggest that a diet high in betaine may lower homocysteine levels in the body, potentially reducing your risk of heart disease (x).

Betaine Benefits

Dietary Sources of Betaine

You can ensure you’re getting your daily dose of betaine by adding the following foods to your diet:

  • Wheat bran
  • Wheat germ
  • Spinach
  • Beets
  • Pretzels
  • Shrimp
  • Wheat bread

Betaine Side Effects

As long as you stick to the recommended dosage, betaine is safe for healthy adults. However, avoid betaine if you take NSAIDs, cortisone, or medications that may cause peptic ulcers. Talk to your doctor before taking betaine if you’re nursing or pregnant, or if you have high cholesterol. Mild side effects may include upset stomach, nausea and diarrhea.

Betaine Supplements

You can find betaine as a supplement in capsule, powder, or as an ingredient in a preworkout blend.

If you’re blending your own preworkout, add betaine anhydrous TMG powder to the mix for improved athletic performance. As a dietary supplement, take 750 – 1500 mg once daily, or as directed by your physician.

If you have a sensitive stomach, try betaine HCL powder–it contains hydrochloric acid (HCL) to aid digestion.

The Bottom Line

Betaine TMG is an amino acid that could help you improve your overall fitness, especially endurance and strength. It also keeps your heart and liver healthy. With few side effects and a host of benefits, betaine could be the perfect addition to your nutrition routine.

About the author

Casey Eade


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