Betaine Benefits and Food Sources

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In chemistry, betaine is any neutral chemical compounds having positively charged cationic functional group such as phosphonium cation or quaternary ammonium which has no hydrogen atom and with negatively charged functional group such as carboxylate group which may not be adjacent to cationic site. Biologically betaine is included in methylation reactions and detoxification of homocysteine. In biological systems, betaines act as organic osmolytes which are substances synthesized and taken up from environment by cells for protection against osmotic stress, high salinity, drought and high temperature.

Betaine is a byproduct of processing sugar beet. It functions by preventing build-up of amino acid known as homocysteine. This amino acid is regarded to be harmful for blood vessels and results in heart disease, circulation problems and stroke. It lowers homocysteine levels in people having genetic condition termed as homocystinuria i.e. buildup of amino acid in the body.

Food Sources

Food name Weight (g) Betaine (mg)
Quinoa 170 1071.7
Rye 169 246.9
Beets 136 175
Spinach 180 160.2
Bulgur 182 151.8
Sweet potato 200 69.2
Spinach souffle 136 40.7
Hamburger 171 37.3
Pizza 143 36
Oat flour 104 31.9
White bread 29 29.6
Ground veal 85 28.8
Turkey 863 27.6
English muffins 28.35 27.4
Chicken 85 25.7
Doughnuts 40 25.4
Tilapia 87 22.9
Bagels 98 21.2
Onion 117 19.4
Oat bran 94 18.4

 

Health Benefits

  1. Digestive health

Stomach should have adequate acid levels to digest food. Without adequate acid levels, food will not be broken down entirely which means it won’t be unable to absorb nutrients provided by food. Therefore, insufficient acid levels could result nutritional deficiencies which may increase the chances of developing various health and hormone issues. The acid which carries biggest workload in digestive process is hydrochloric acid.  Insufficient HCI in stomach causes digestive dysfunction.

  1. Heart health

Betaine is beneficial for the cardiovascular affect. Betaine safeguards heart health by lowering amino acid homocysteine within bloodstream. It provides homocysteine molecule with one of its methyl groups and converts it into innocuous substance known as methionine. High homocysteine levels in blood could clog and harden arteries by generating arterial plaque which could contribute to cardiovascular health problems. It is effectively used to treat high levels of homocysteine.

  1. Supports and detoxify liver

Betaine supports liver function as well as liver detoxification. There are various conditions which results in excessive buildup of fatty acid in liver. Some conditions include obesity which is caused due to the diet rich in fatty and sugary foods, alcohol abuse and diabetes. It is difficult for liver to function properly when one has too much fat in liver cells. A liver with too much fat could result in fluid retention, scarring liver, cardiovascular issues, muscle waste and abdominal pain. Betaine could break down fatty acids in liver and helps to aid people in recovering from liver damage. Evidence shows that betaine protects liver from hepatotoxins such as ethanol and carbon tetrachloride.

  1. Improve muscle mass

Betaine has a critical role in fat reduction and metabolizing protein. Betaine is found in pre-workout and muscle building supplements on market. It helps to promote muscular power, endurance and strength in clinical trials. Like creatine, betaine urges muscle and strength gains. Betaine promotes growth of muscle. Digestive as well as cardiovascular benefits are much more understood than body composition benefits.

  1. Lose fat

Study shows that betaine supplements is helpful in altering how body processes and partition nutrients which results in quicker fat burning abilities as well as fat loss without losing muscle mass and breaking down muscle tissue. Study conducted on 2002 shows those pigs when supplemented betaine showed changes in body composition. Results shows that betaine showed positive impacts and pigs when supplemented betaine supplements, its ability to metabolize protein improved and lost more fat in comparison to control group of pigs did.

  1. Relief from pain and aches

Study shows that betaine benefits positively on those having muscle aches and pains. Study conducted on horses found that levels of lactate acid were lower after exercise when horses were fed betaine supplementation. It is beneficial for people who perform rigorous exercise or for those suffering from painful symptoms associated to muscle and joint tissue damage.

  1. Repairs body damage

Betaine is used for treating alcoholic liver damage resulting from accumulation of fat in liver. Betaine shows fat reducing effects which is shown to produce significant improvements in healing fatty liver disease by supporting liver to process and eliminate fats.

  1. Relieve Hypochlorhydria

Less secretion of hydrochloric acid and low production of stomach acid is known as hypochlorhydria. It has negative impact on digestive process. Normally bacteria would be killed by acid in the gut survive. Betaine hydrochloride is used to treat this condition.

  1. Protect internal organs

Study shows that betaine is a crucial amino acid used for preventing chronic diseases. It protects internal organs and promotes its performance. Additionally, vascular risk factors are known to promote with the use of betaine.

  1. Homocystinuria

Homocystinuria is a metabolic disorder that is caused by high homocysteine levels. It may also cause osteoporosis as well as heart disease. It is helpful for lowering homocysteine levels.

Side Effects

  • People might experience allergic reaction such as difficulty breathing, hives, swelling of face, tongue, lips and throat.
  • Seek for medical attention immediately when experienced memory problems, muscle weakness, vision changes, change in mental state, decreased consciousness, problems with balance, speech or walking and unpleasant breath odor.

References:

https://www.everydayhealth.com/drugs/betaine

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betaine

https://legionathletics.com/betaine/

https://enzymedica.com/blogs/naturaldigestivehealth/unlocking-health-benefits-with-betaine

https://draxe.com/what-is-betaine/

https://www.findatopdoc.com/Diet-and-Nutrition/betaine-hcl-benefits

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