Betaine is a vitamin-like nutrient whose name comes from the fact that it was first found (in the 19th century) in sugar beet. Other names for betaine are betaine anhydrous and TMG or trimethylglycine.
Research shows that betaine in conjunction with vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid helps reduce levels of an amino acid called homocysteine. That’s important because other studies show that high levels of homocysteine encourage atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries.
Heart disease and stroke
Elevated levels of homocysteine in the blood (homocystenaemia) are strongly linked to increased risks of heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis and other diseases (1).
Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid are often used medically to lower homocysteine levels, but this combination is not always effective. However, when betaine is added to the other B vitamins, homocysteine levels fall by up to 75%, and there are immediate improvements in clinical condition (2).
The results can be dramatic. When the betaine/B vitamins combination was given prophylactically (as a preventative measure) to patients with homocystenaemia, the incidence of heart attacks was reduced ten-fold, which was hugely significant (3).
In another study, betaine was administered to subjects with coronary artery disease, and here it produced major improvements in their plasma lipid profiles (4).
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved betaine to treat a genetic condition where too much homocysteine builds up in the body.
Fatty deposits in the liver can be caused by diabetes, obesity, alcohol abuse, and other causes. Studies in rats suggest that betaine may help protect against harmful fatty deposits in the liver. Preliminary studies in people have shown similar results.
Just like some B vitamins, including folate and vitamin B12, betaine is considered to be a “methyl donor” ie. it adds methyl groups to other processes in the body. That is how it aids in liver function, detoxification and cellular functioning. Its key role is to help the body process fats.
Betaine is also involved in cellular reproduction and helping make carnitine. And carnitine is critical to energy levels.
Vets already know this!
Betaine (sometimes known as Vitamin B10) is already widely used by vets to help maintain the health of a variety of animal species in agriculture and aquaculture.
Yet the medical profession remains resistant to (or ignorant of) the charms of this valuable micronutrient. You can help stay out of the doctors’ clutches longer by including betaine in your own diet.
Dietary sources of betaine include sugar beet, beetroot and spinach. NutriShield is one of the very few supplements that has included this valuable nutrient ever since its launch 15 years ago!
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Dr Paul Clayton’s best-selling book Health Defence is available from most good bookstores. See the website www.healthdefence.com for excerpts and links to buy direct from the publisher.
1,2 Boushey CJ et al, JAMA, 274:1049-1057, 1995
3 Wilcken DEL, Wilcken B, Ann NY Acad Science, 854:361-370, 1998
4 Lester M, Morrison MD, Amer J Dig Dis 381-384, December 1952
5 Panteleimonova TN, Zapadniuk VI, Farmakol Toksikol, 46:83-85, 1983