Betaine – the essential heart health nutrient

Definitive guide to benefits of betaine

Betaine - the essential heart health nutrient NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals

 


DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO BETAINE AT A GLANCE

♦ BETAINE can help cut the risk of heart attacks
♦ BETAINE can reduce the risk of cancer – especially when combined with optimum B complex vitamins
♦ BETAINE can improve digestion
♦ BETAINE can help reduce anxiety


Chances are you have never heard of betaine before, although it is well known to cardiologists, because it improves heart health.

Betaine can help reduce heart attack risk – the homocysteine connection

For a long time, heart health researchers had concentrated on high cholesterol levels as a key factor in heart disease. But they were puzzled that almost half of heart attack patients had normal cholesterol levels. So, what else could be the trigger?

Tests began to suggest that high levels of homocysteine in the blood – especially in older people – might be a critical factor.

Homocysteine is an amino acid that the body produces naturally, but excess levels can damage the walls of blood vessels and arteries and lead to the build up of plaque and clogged and narrowed arteries – ie. atherosclerosis.

Researchers then discovered that betaine – especially in combination with folic acid and B6 and B12 vitamins – could lower homocysteine levels and therefore cut the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

The principal study on betaine in the Journal of Nutrition (referenced below) confirms that:

“Homocysteine is an independent cardiovascular disease risk factor modifiable by nutrition and exercise. However, it is now widely accepted that food sources alone cannot consistently supply the levels of nutrients necessary to sustain optimal homocysteine metabolism”.

Betaine for improved digestion

Betaine - the essential heart health nutrient NutriShield Multi Vitamins and MineralsYour stomach needs to be sufficiently acidic for food to digest properly.

If acid levels are too low, your stomach cannot completely break down the food you eat to enable you to absorb its nutrients. The result can be nutritional deficiencies, which increase the risk of many diseases.

The principal acid in your stomach is hydrochloric acid, which is why the version of betaine that’s linked to hydrochloric acid (betaine hydrochloride) is preferred in a supplement. It can help raise acid levels in the stomach and alleviate gastrointestinal issues – especially if it is accompanied by an effective probiotic to further increase nutrient absorption.

How betaine works – gene expression via methyl groups

Don’t miss this bit! – because it also explains why betaine can switch off genes that can harm your health or activate genes that can reduce your risk of cancer.

Betaine is rich in a special group of carbon and hydrogen molecules called methyl groups. Methyl groups are essential to a process called methylation – where methyl gets attached to part of a DNA sequence (or protein) and can change the activity of that DNA segment, a process called gene expression.

So a methyl group can help turn a gene on or off. Betaine is one of a number of nutrients that can do that, so it is called a methyl donor. It donates its methyl to that bit of DNA to alter how the gene is expressed.

So if your diet has inadequate methyl groups, your internal process of methylation is sub-par and a gene can get incorrectly activated, which can lead to cells mutating and turning cancerous.

Indeed, a report in the prestigious Nature Education confirms that:

Researchers have linked “… errors in methylation to a variety of devastating consequences, including several human diseases.”

Betaine isn’t the only methyl donor, B vitamins are too – especially folic acid, B2, B6 and B12. And magnesium and zinc contribute.

Role of methyl groups in cancer risk reduction

In 2017 Medical Science News reported what they described as a ‘stunning’ breakthrough:

“For the first time, researchers from the Leibniz Institute on Aging in Jena, Germany, verified that a lack of methyl groups in the gene body leads to an incorrect gene activation and, as a consequence, may lead to the emergence of cancer.”

The researchers explained that “… during aging as well as during the development of age-induced diseases like cancer, the activation of genetic information is increasingly defective.”

They then propose that the addition of methyl groups could help prevent this process.

This strongly suggests that any supplementation regime that aims to reduce the risk of cancer – or indeed slow ageing – should include methyl group donors, particularly betaine and optimum levels of B complex including folic acid.

Foods that contain methyl groups include leafy green vegetables, fish and eggs.

Betaine improves liver function and can help alleviate fatty liver disease

Betaine - the essential heart health nutrient NutriShield Multi Vitamins and MineralsObesity, diabetes and excess consumption of alcohol can cause fatty acids to build up in the liver leading to ‘fatty liver disease’.

At far higher levels that would be needed in a heart health supplement or for improved digestion – which is about 400-500mg a day – there is evidence that betaine can help treat this condition. But the indicated dose is 1,000mg three times a day.

High dose betaine improves endurance – and may improve body composition

Three separate studies reporting in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition have tested betaine as a supplement to improve endurance. The latest (2013) reported that:

“The major findings of the present study are that 6 weeks of betaine supplementation improved body composition, muscle size, work capacity, … tended to improve power, but not strength in resistance-trained men”.

So the findings for the gym use of betaine are positive, but it should be noted that the study participants (young, recreationally strength-trained males) were taking betaine at a level of 2 x 1.25 grams a day or a total of 2.5g.

Betaine is safe at this level, but it’s probably not a use that would much interest the average person. Nevertheless, betaine consistently taken as part of a daily supplement at a level of 450mg a day should have some positive effect on endurance levels, especially as we get older.

Betaine in foods and supplements

The main food sources of betaine are spinach, beets eg. beetroot and whole wheat products. One of the few comprehensive supplements to include betaine is NutriShield Premium, a daily comprehensive supplement containing 43 nutrients, designed by Dr Paul Clayton, former Chair of the Forum on Food and Health at the Royal Society of Medicine.

 


If you enjoyed this article, please share it with family and friends. You can follow us on Facebook or Twitter for daily headline health tweets.


Betaine - the essential heart health nutrient NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals And register now for a free regular e-newsletter on the latest in nutrition and health research.


Dr Paul Clayton designed NutriShield as a comprehensive healthBetaine - the essential heart health nutrient NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals supplement with OPTIMUM levels of 43 essential nutrients including polyphenols and flavonoids from fruits, vegetables and other plants, Omega 3, CoQ10, betaine and soy isoflavones. See more detail elsewhere on this site or click on the button.


Betaine - the essential heart health nutrient NutriShield Multi Vitamins and MineralsDr Paul Clayton’s best-selling book Health Defence is available from bookstores or from Uni-Vite Healthcare here.

A free summary report and the opportunity to read the book online is available here.


See online here for delicious recipes from the Health Defence Cookbook  incorporating healthy foods featuring in a Mediterranean Diet. Betaine - the essential heart health nutrient NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals


REFERENCES

Low Dose Betaine Supplementation Leads to Immediate and Long Term Lowering of Plasma Homocysteine in Healthy Men and Women; Margreet R. Olthof, Trinette van Vliet, Esther Boelsma, Petra Verhoef; The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 133, Issue 12, 1 December 2003,

Role of homocysteine in the development of cardiovascular disease; Paul Ganguly and Sreyoshi Fatima Alam; Nutr J. 2015; 14: 6.

Betaine, a promising new agent for patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis: results of a pilot study. Abdelmalek MF, Angulo P, Jorgensen RA, Sylvestre PB, Lindor KD; Am J Gastroenterol. 2001 Sep;96(9):2711-7.

Gastric Re-acidification with Betaine HCl in Healthy Volunteers with Rabeprazole-Induced Hypochlorhydria; Marc Anthony R. Yago; Mol Pharm. 2013 Nov 4; 10(11): 4032–4037.

Ergogenic effects of betaine supplementation on strength and power performance; Lee EC, Maresh CM; J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010 Jul 19;7:27.

Effect of betaine supplementation on power performance and fatigue. Hoffman JR, J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2009 Feb 27;6:7.

Effects of betaine on body composition, performance, and homocysteine thiolactone. Jason M Cholewa, et al; Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2013.

DNA Methylation and Its Basic Function; Lisa D Moore, Thuc Le and Guoping Fan; Neuropsychopharmacology; v.38(1); 2013 Jan.

DNA methylation and cancer. Kulis M, Esteller M: Adv Genet.  2010;70:27-56. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-380866-0.60002-2.

The role of DNA methylation in ageing, rejuvenation and age-related disease. Johnson AA, Akman K, Calimport SRG, et al.  Rejuvenation Res 2012;15(5):483-494.

https://www.news-medical.net/news/20170223/Lack-of-methyl-groups-in-gene-body-may-lead-to-emergence-of-cancer.aspx

Avoiding sarcopenia can prolong your life

Avoiding sarcopenia can help you draw your pension for 30 years

Avoiding sarcopenia can prolong your life NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals

Who doesn’t want to enjoy their retirement to the full? Savouring the fact of having “outsmarted” the pension provider by living healthier and longer than the actuarial tables predicted.

To do that, you need to avoid sarcopenia.

Sarcopenia is loss of lean muscle mass and strength

Sarcopenia not a term that trips off the tongue or is often mentioned in health articles. But we are all vulnerable to it – especially over the age of 60.

It’s the progressive loss of lean muscle mass and strength as you get older. Sarcopenia greatly increases the risk of disability, of osteoporosis (bone loss), of insulin resistance, fatigue, falls, poor quality of life, and premature death.

And it’s a very significant factor in the health care costs faced by the elderly, their family, and indeed the state.

One medical article defines sarcopenia as:

“a downward spiral that leads to decreased strength and functionality – frailty”.

Put another way, you don’t get to enjoy that retirement for as long as, or in the style, you hoped.

But there’s good news. You can start to reverse sarcopenia in as little as 2- 3 weeks. At any age.

The (muscle mass) ages of man (and woman)

From birth to about 30 years old, your muscles grow larger and stronger.

But during your 30s, you begin to lose muscle mass and function.

From then onwards, you lose about 5% of your muscle mass per decade, so by 60 you are some 20% weaker.

Sarcopenia can then accelerate, so that by 80 you may have lost as much as 50% of your muscle mass as a young adult.

The vicious circle of muscle mass and calories

Since muscle burns energy (calories), you either need to eat less and less, or you become progressively fatter.

Eating less reduces your nutrition at just the time you should be increasing it.

Becoming fatter drives the weakening process even further.

Moreover fat, especially fat around the midriff, releases toxic compounds that increase inflammation and free radical damage to DNA.  These are the two key factors in heart disease, stroke and cancer.

So it’s a vicious circle that’s vital to break.

Factors causing sarcopenia

Lack of physical exercise is a key factor in sarcopenia, but other factors include:

  • reduced levels of growth hormone
  • reduced testosterone (in both men and women)
  • a decrease in the ability to digest protein and turn protein into energy
  • neurological decline
  • increased inflammation and oxidative stress (free radical damage) in body tissues
  • reduced functioning of mitochondria (the tiny energy factories in each body cell)

Contributing to all these negative factors is widespread sub-optimal nutritional intake.

Indeed, the US National Library of Medicine concludes:

“Adequate nutrition and targeted exercise remain the gold standard for therapy against sarcopenia”.

So to stay strong as you age – and revel in that long retirement – exactly what nutrition do you need and what exercise works to stave off the threat of sarcopenia?

The six-point plan to beat sarcopenia

It may shock you to learn that most of us now normally spend at least 20 hours of every day inactive!

That’s 8 hours asleep, 8 hours in a sedentary job and at least 4 hours a day relaxing on a couch. If you include sitting down to eat, it can be more!

ONE – EXERCISE

Exercise stimulates the release of hormones that promote healthy muscle mass. These include testosterone and growth hormone, which act throughout the body. The regime you need to start warding off progressive weakness can be as simple as:

Fast walking while swinging your arms
. This should be for about 30 minutes on 5 days a week, but vigorous housework also counts.  That’s a total of just 2.5 hours over a 112 hour waking week. Fast walking builds muscle in the legs, increases aerobic capacity and improves the activity of mitochondrial enzymes – which is why exercise increases energy levels.

But walking alone is not enough. You also need to include some strength training or resistance training exercises to avoid muscle loss. Fortunately, I am NOT talking about pumping iron!

Try these 4 simple strength builders that need no gym:

Press-ups – or press-aways. Press-aways are as simple as standing away from a wall, leaning into it and then pressing yourself away from the wall.

Repeat this at least 10-15 times or as many times as you can. Day by day you will find you can do more ‘press-ups’ or ‘press-aways’.

Dumbbell Lifts. Avoiding sarcopenia can prolong your life NutriShield Multi Vitamins and MineralsStand with a dumbbell in each hand with your elbows bent so the dumbbells are level with your shoulders. Then raise your arms towards the ceiling. Repeat as many times as you feel comfortable – but at least 10 – 15 times.

You don’t even need dumbbells – bags of sugar will do.

Bicep Curls. Take your dumbbells or bags of sugar, one in each hand. Sit upright in a chair with your spine against the back of the chair. Your arms should be at your side, level with your knees.

Bend your arms at the elbow and lift the weights to become level with your shoulder. But keep your arms tight in against your body and don’t lean your body forward. Repeat about 10-15 times.

Half Squats against a wall. Stand with your back leaning lightly against a wall, with your legs placed slightly wider than your shoulders.

Bend your knees, sliding your bottom down the wall. Keep your kneecaps in a vertical line with your foot.

If you can, lower yourself down until your position is as if you’re sitting on an invisible chair. Hold for a few seconds before raising yourself back up. Repeat 10 to 15 times.

These four strength-builder exercises will increase your mobility, and combined with walking, will help prevent arthritis, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

Once you have mastered these four, check out other older-adult exercise videos on YouTube. Yoga and Pilates also often incorporate similar exercises to these to add strength training to their excellent suppleness and mobility activities.

It is NEVER too late to start strength training – and it is fundamental to slowing and preventing the march of sarcopenia!

TWO – PROTEIN

Women over 60 in particular may eat less protein than they need.

Protein is key to repairing and building muscle fibres. The recommendation is 1 gram per kilo of body weight a day. So a 65 kilo woman will need 65g of good quality protein per day.

The amino acid Leucine seems especially important to stimulate muscle synthesis and is found in meats, eggs and milk but also in seeds, lentils, beans and nuts.

Protein is important after exercise. Although it does not enhance athletic performance, it assists muscle recovery. You may want to consider a protein drink on occasions.

THREE – OMEGA 3

Supplementation with Omega 3 fatty acids increases the rate of protein synthesis in older adults – according to a well-conducted study.

Avoiding sarcopenia can prolong your life NutriShield Multi Vitamins and MineralsBut Omega 3 has another benefit – it helps reduce internal inflammation which is a contributor to sarcopenia.

A 2015 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that supplementing with omega-3 fish oil slowed the normal decline in muscle mass and function in older adults. They proposed that:

Omega 3 should be considered a therapeutic approach for preventing sarcopenia and maintaining physical independence in older adults”.

Vegetarians can supplement with Omega 3 derived from flax seed – although this vegan form is slightly less effectively metabolised.

FOUR – BALANCE HORMONES

The levels of some hormones in older adults are as much as two thirds less than in a teenager.

Anti-ageing researchers are concentrating on testosterone which is essential in maintaining lean muscle mass – as well as bone mass.

Fortunately, you can increase the level of this hormone in men and women naturally. (Although women, of course, naturally have lower testosterone levels, the hormone is still important in creating lean muscle mass and crucial in the production of oestrogen.)

Avoiding sarcopenia can prolong your life NutriShield Multi Vitamins and MineralsTestosterone levels increase by attaining a normal weight and with exercise. Your diet and cooking should include nuts, beans, olive oil and garlic – all of which contain compounds that have been found to positively affect testosterone levels.

Any supplement should include a full range of anti-oxidants like vitamins A, C, E, plus vitamin D3 and zinc, which are precursors to testosterone production. An Australian study on 685 older adults concluded that supplementation with vitamin D, combined with exercise, significantly improved lean muscle mass.

Another study in Endocrine Abstracts showed that a glass of pomegranate juice a day was linked to an average increase of 23% in testosterone levels – and the side benefit was an improvement in mood and a drop in blood pressure.

What not to eat?  Sugars and carbohydrate lead to a surge in insulin levels and high levels of insulin reduce blood levels of testosterone. And drinking too much alcohol can weaken muscles as well as remove important nutrients from your body.

FIVE – EAT AN ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET

Inflammation that builds up in body tissues over time is now acknowledged in the medical literature to be a key driver of most age-related diseases – certainly it is central to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and sexual dysfunction in men. It also creates the conditions where cancer can more easily metastasise. It is a major health threat.

This link will take you to a printable recommendation of a food plan that will significantly lower inflammation and, with it, sarcopenia. It pulls together the best health research from universities like Cambridge, Harvard, Berkeley and Tufts into one simple plan.

Avoiding sarcopenia can prolong your life NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals

SIX – TAKE A COMPREHENSIVE SUPPLEMENT

As we get older, the threats to health increase, so the level of nutrition we need to maintain the health of our bodies increases. But at precisely the same time, the body’s ability to absorb that nutrition begins to weaken.

In conjunction with Dr Paul Clayton – a previous Chair of the Forum on Food and Health at the Royal Society of Medicine – we designed a nutritional supplement for the over 50s called Nutrishield Premium.

Nutrishield is high in vitamins, minerals, D3, Omega 3 and a range of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant nutrients.

 

Follow this 6 point plan to live healthier, stronger, and longer. And outsmart that pension provider!


If you enjoyed this article, please share it with family and friends. You can follow us on Facebook or Twitter for daily headline health tweets.


Avoiding sarcopenia can prolong your life NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals And register now for a free regular e-newsletter on the latest in nutrition and health research.


Dr Paul Clayton designed NutriShield as a comprehensive healthAvoiding sarcopenia can prolong your life NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals supplement with OPTIMUM levels of essential nutrients including Vitamin D. See more detail elsewhere on this site or click on the button.


Avoiding sarcopenia can prolong your life NutriShield Multi Vitamins and MineralsDr Paul Clayton’s best-selling book Health Defence is available from bookstores or from Uni-Vite Healthcare here.

A free summary report and the opportunity to read the book online is available here.


See online here for delicious recipes from the Health Defence Cookbook  incorporating healthy foods featuring in a Mediterranean Diet. Avoiding sarcopenia can prolong your life NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals


References:

Sarcopenia: European consensus on definition and diagnosis. Report of the European Working Group on Sarcopenia in Older People. Alfonso J. Cruz-Jentoft et al : Age Ageing. 2010 Jul; 39(4): 412–423.

Sarcopenia in older adults. Jeremy D. Walston; Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2012 Nov; 24(6): 623–627.

Dietary omega-3 fatty acid supplementation increases the rate of muscle protein synthesis in older adults: a randomized controlled trial. Smith GI, Atherton P, Reeds DN, Mohammed BS, Rankin D, Rennie MJ, Mittendorfer B. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Feb;93(2):402-12. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.110.005611. Epub 2010 Dec 15.

Fish oil-derived n-3 PUFA therapy increases muscle mass and function in healthy older adults. Smith GI, Julliand S, Reeds DN, Sinacore DR, Klein S, Mittendorfer B. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Jul;102(1):115-22. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.105833. Epub 2015 May 20.

Novel Insights on Nutrient Management of Sarcopenia in Elderly. Mariangela Rondanelli, Milena Faliva, Francesca Monteferrario, Gabriella Peroni, Erica Repaci, Francesca Allieri, and Simone Perna; Biomed Res Int. 2015: 524948.

A prospective study of the associations between 25-hydroxy-vitamin D, sarcopenia progression and physical activity in older adults. Scott D, Blizzard L, Fell J, Ding C, Winzenberg T, Jones G. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2010 Nov;73(5):581-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.2010.03858.x.

Pomegranate juice intake enhances salivary testosterone levels and improves mood and well being in healthy men and women. Emad Al-Dujaili & Nacer Smail. Endocrine Abstracts (2012) 28 p313.

Exercise and the stress system. Mastorakos G, Pavlatou M, amanti-Kandarakis E, Chrousos GP. Hormones (Athens). 2005 Apr;4(2):73-89.

The pathogenetic bases of sarcopenia. Simona L. Budui, Andrea P. Rossi, and Mauro Zamboni;  Clin Cases Miner Bone Metab. 2015 Jan-Apr; 12(1): 22–26.