Written by Lee Stevenson, sorry I am a lousy editor.
This is not medical advice I am writing this for educational purposes. If you are ill please seek the aid of a qualified and experienced functional medicine practitioner.
Betaine (trimethylglycine) (TMG)
If you have health issues preventing the production of stomach acid you can become bloated. Your food will sit in your digestive tract and ferment instead of digesting. This also causes and overgrowth of bad microbes. Betaine (TMG) prevents that from occurring. Betaine helps to improve nutrient absorption. It is best to get plant based betaine. To reap the benefits of betaine we have to make sure we are not deficienct in vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. If the body is not producing enough betaine it most likely is not producing enough pepsin. So a supplement with betaine should also contain pepsin. If the meal you are eating lacks protein then it would be best not to take betaine. Betaine should be taken with meals that contain protein. Betaine and betaine hcl are not the same thing. TMG HCL is hydrochloric acid made from betaine.
Some may have problems taking choline which I will not get into in this article. Betaine is a choline derivative and often times those who react to choline can take betaine and the body will use it as a source of choline. Choline deficiency can cause liver failure. Another way choline helps the liver, it is a methyl donor. Those who react to methyl donors my be able to take TMG without reacting as severely.
TMG also prevents low BH4 levels. BH4 is need for proper hormone levels and for maintaining adrenal health. By reducing homocysteine by consuming TMG this prevents BH4 from being depleted. TMG also aids in recycling BH2 back to BH4. BH4 deficiency also causes cardiovascular disease and excess blood clotting. BH4 is critical for the regulation of Nitric oxide levels in the body. Natural ACE inhibitors also increases BH4 levels.
Betaine helps to prevent high homocysteine levels which can cause high histamines because TMG support the conversion of homocysteine to methionine. High homocysteine levels causes blood vessel damage, cardiovascular disease and hardening of the arteries. Methionine is used by the body to remove free radicals and toxins so TMG can help to reduce toxins in the body. Methionine is also a potent antioxidant so it helps to prevent damage from oxidative stress. TMG also improves cardiovascular health by preventing excess blood clotting.
Betaine has potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Betaine , sorbitol and taurine help maintain water balance in cells, this also helps to stabilize the proteins in cells.
Betaine increases PEMT enzymes which can help to prevent fatty liver disease. It also helps improve sulfation which can improve hormones and digestion.
Betaine inhibits many of the inflammatory cytokines caused by endotoxins so it can help reduce the effects of endotoxins. It also inhibits NLRP3 inflammasome which is high in interstitial cystitis and inflammatory bowel diseases. TMG increases heme oxygenase. Betaine also activates digestive enzymes which helps to increase the beneficial microbes in the gut while reducing the inflammatory microbes.
Betaine helps to increase AMPK and oxidative phosphorylation which increases fat burning which prevents hypoglycemia and obesity. This will also help to prevent fatty liver disease. When OXPHOS is inhibited glycogen can build up in the liver and a person can develop fatty liver disease, insulin resistance and hypoglycemia. TMG helps to prevent that from occurring. It helps to prevent type 1 and 2 diabetes.
Betaine prevents endoplasmic reticulum stress, this would prevent mitochondria damage and DNA damage.
Betaine helps to prevent high ammonia levels which improve brain function, muscle function and function of many organs and is cardioprotective. Betaine also reduces muscle pain and fatigue.
When a person is chronically ill , have sepsis or inflammatory disease they experience what is called psuedohypoxia, this causes tissue ischemia. Betaine has been shown to prevent this from occuring by reducing hypoxia inducible factor. Betaine would prevent oxygen deprivation of organs.
Betaine has been shown to increase tolerance to stress and prevent stress induced schizophrenia. Those with schizophrenia have been found to have low levels of TMG in their bodies. Betaine has effects on the opoiod and GABA receptors having a relaxant type effect. TMG improves brain function in those with Alzheimer disease.
Betaine helps to prevent candida overgrowth and other fungal infection. Betaine also improves tight junction barrier function which improves nutrient absorption and prevents food particles from entering the blood stream where they do not belong. Food particles entering the blood stream which occurs in leaky gut causes one to become allergic or sensitive to certain foods.
If a person has CBS issues they will develop high sulfite levels and many sulfation pathways will become inhibited and homocysteine levels will become high. Folate, B6, B12 and betaine help to prevent this. If a person does not address this they will develop a sensitivity to high sulfur foods and meat. If not addressed the gut inflammation it causes will make them sensitive to other foods.
Though studies show it may be safe to take during pregnancy it is a protease enzyme which can cause the placenta to degrade so I am skeptical of those studies because most protease enzymes are not safe to take during pregnancy because of their effects on the placenta. TMG does normalize fetal growth in mothers who have diabetes but if taken during pregnancy I would make certain you was under the guidance and care of a functional medicine practitioner.
If betaine is taken with steroids, hormones , or over the counter pain killers it can cause severe stomach irritation. If a person is taking phosphotidylcholine they should take it with the betaine because it could cause an overgrowth of certain microbes and taking it with betaine would help to prevent this form occurring.
Safe dosage is usually around 15 grams.