Betaine or trimethylglycine (TMG), is an amino acid found in beets -- where scientists originally discovered it -- and many other foods including shellfish, brown rice, quinoa, spinach, sweet potato, turkey breast, veal, and beef. Betaine is made up of glycine, an amino acid that is part of three different methyl groups. Its primary role in the body is as a methyl donor and an osmolyte. As an osmolyte, betaine balances the fluid levels inside and outside the cells. As a methyl donor, betaine plays a vital role in many physiological processes. There are many health benefits of betaine.
Betaine helps the body break down foods. It's essential the body process food properly because poorly digested food doesn't deliver its full nutritional benefits and as a result, cause nutritional deficiencies that lead to more serious health issues. Hydrochloric acid or HCl is the key ingredient needed to break down foods. Optimal digestion is impeded when the stomach has insufficient amounts of this acid. Betaine can boost HCl in the stomach.
Betaine improves vascular health by decreasing the circulation of the amino acid homocysteine. The methyl present in betaine converts harmful homocysteine molecules to safe methionine molecules. This process prevents plaque from forming on the arteries. If this plaque is allowed to form and harden, it clogs the arteries and causes problems in the heart: clogged and hardened arteries make it very difficult for the heart to pump blood to maintain adequate oxygen levels.
Betaine can break down fatty acids in the liver and repair liver damage. It can also protect the liver from hepatotoxins like carbon tetrachloride and ethanol by helping the body excrete these chemicals. Prescription medications, herbicides, and pesticides are the most common chemicals to introduce the body to these toxins.
Betaine may boost energy levels in people with Hashimoto's disorder. During the digestion process, the body expends a lot of energy. People with Hashimoto's often have inadequate amounts of essential stomach acid necessary for digestion. Betaine helps increase stomach acid, which reduces the amount of energy required during the digestion process, resulting in a boost in energy levels.
Anemia is a condition in which molecules called hemoglobin fail to deliver oxygen to the cells properly. Oxygen-deprived tissues, organs, and cells manifest as fatigue, hair loss, and unhealthy nails, to list only a few symptoms. Iron supplements are a common solution to treating anemia. However, Betaine may be an alternative. We already know the amino acid increases stomach acid, and anemia can be improved in this way because it aids in the full absorption of all the other nutrients needed to fight the condition, including iron, folate, and B vitamins.
Excessive alcohol consumption leads to an accumulation of excess fat in the liver. However, betaine can repair the damage caused by the abuse of alcohol. Its lipotropic (fat-reducing) effects help the liver to process and remove fats by reducing the levels of toxic metabolites, homocysteine, and S-adenosylhomocysteine. This, in turn, reduces the accumulation of damaged proteins and oxidant stress.
Treat candida, yeast, or fungal infections with probiotics and betaine. The compound works in conjunction with probiotics by increasing stomach acid production, making it easier for the probiotic to fight candida and control yeast overgrowth.
Betaine can treat diseased and weakened muscle tissue. When combined with guanidinoacetate through methionine, betaine produces creatine, which results in increased strength and endurance during physical activity. It also increases feelings of wellbeing and reduces muscle fatigue. Strength and endurance are improved during muscle recovery, as are anaerobic and aerobic metabolism.
Insufficient stomach acid can compromise gut health because stomach acid not only helps your body to break down foods as part of the digestion process but is also necessary when it comes to protecting your gut from harmful microorganisms. Betaine is the first line of defense against harmful bacteria that enter the intestines after ingestion.
Consumption of betaine indirectly increases serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine when the amino acid produces methionine. These hormones are beneficial when it comes to treating depression and anxiety. Some studies have shown betaine can improve symptoms associated with autism by increasing choline and methionine levels and normalizing the methionine cycle. Betaine also acts as an antioxidant, which helps combat oxidative stress.
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