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INGREDIENT OF THE WEEK: BETAINE

AUGUST 10, 2016

Betaine is an amino acid that has been shown to have benefits for preventing heart disease, boosting body composition, and helping promote muscle gain and fat loss due to its abilities to promote protein synthesis in the body. Betaine, also known as trimethylglycine, is becoming more popular in supplements recently, but is actually not a newly discovered nutrient. Betaine has been included more often in exercise-focused and energy supplements, protein powders and other products geared at improving exercise performance. Betaine is a subsidiary of Choline, which Choline is a precursor to betaine and must be present for betaine to be synthesized in the body. Betaine is created by choline in combination with the amino acid glycine. It aids in liver function, detoxification and cellular functioning within the body. It’s most crucial role is to help the body process fats. It’s used to convert homocysteine in the blood to methionine. Homocysteine is an amino acid that is produced by the body naturally. Diets with low betaine may contribute to high homocysteine in the blood. High homocysteine levels in the blood may be elevated for many reasons, including environmental factors, diet and genetics.The biggest threat to consuming low betaine levels is experiencing symptoms related to high homocysteine in the blood. This is seen most often in either older populations above 50, those who have suffered from alcoholism, or in children who have genetic conditions that lead to high homocysteine. Betaines ability to lower homocysteine has been researched extensively. Early studies were conducted to investigate betaine potential benefits for boosting muscle mass and strength, aiding in improved endurance, and helping to lower fat. More studies are still needed to draw definitive conclusions about betaine in these regards, but preliminary research shows betaine has promising benefits. Because everyone needs a differing amount of betaine depending on their needs there isn’t an established recommendation for betaine intake at this time. However, most people do best getting between 650–2,000 milligrams of betaine per day.