Betaine benefits are many; it is a natural compound that is critical for metabolism and has many powerful effects on the body.
In this post, learn about the many fascinating betaine benefits, potential side effects, and how to use betaine. Let’s also take a look a little closer at who stands to benefit the most from betaine.
Table of Contents
What is Betaine (Trimethylglycine)?
Betaine or trimethylglycine (TMG) is the amino acid glycine attached to three methyl groups that are naturally present in the body. It is found in foods as well and is available in supplements. Originally discovered in beets, betaine is also found in other foods like seafood and whole grains.
There are two kinds of betaine supplements: betaine anhydrous and betaine HCL. The difference between these two is that betaine HCL is primarily used to enhance digestive function while betaine anhydrous is used for improving body composition and reducing inflammation markers known as homocysteine. This post is about betaine anhydrous which simply means betaine without water.
TMG (betaine) benefits are mainly due to its ability to lower inflammatory compounds in the body and also to help promote weight loss and increase muscle.
How TMG (Betaine) Benefits the Body
As an amino acid, TMG benefits are numerous in the body. The following are its main actions in supporting the best health.
Methyl donor-TMG is a great methyl donor. Every split second your body needs methyl donors to help make methionine and s-adenosylmethionine which is most commonly referred to as SAM-e. These are compounds that support overall health, mood, focus, and more. SAM-e promotes heart health too.
Hydrates cells-TMG keeps the water balance inside of cells more stable. This helps the cells be more resilient and combat stress.
Reduces inflammation-TMG helps the body by acting as a potent antioxidant.
Decreases homocysteine-one of betaine’s major benefits is that it helps reduce homocysteine. This feature of TMG is important for many aspects of health because elevated homocysteine levels increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, dementia, and cancer.
Improves body composition-numerous studies show that betaine helps to reduce body fat and promotes lean muscle mass. It also helps to increase muscle strength alongside exercise.
Reduces insulin resistance-while more research is needed, TMG supplements may reduce insulin resistance and improve fasting blood sugar levels for people with diabetes.
Betaine for the Brain
Betaine TMG: Provides the nutrient betaine (trimethylglycine, TMG), which enhances SAMe for healthy mood; provides crucial methyl for DNA, brain neurotransmitters, melatonin, and myelin production; and helps cells regulate their water content.
Betaine (as TMG) is a compound that is similar to the mood-enhancing nutrient called SAM-e. SAM-e has been clinically proven to help improve mood and reduce anxiety. When SAMe is combined with betaine, it works even better according to some research.
Using betaine for mood likely works for some people as a stand-alone for mood because betaine helps the body make its own SAM-e.
Many reviewers are surprised at how quickly their mood and focus improve with this supplement. While more research needs to be done, there is no harm in trying to add TMG supplements into your routine to see if it helps you feel better.
Personally, it helped my mood and brain feel calm within 20 minutes of taking it and it continues to help me every day. People also say that it helps with symptoms of autism and oppositional defiant disorder, and many people feel much calmer taking TMG.
That said, it is likely to help people the most who have under-methylation issues such as those with MTHFR gene variants. About half of people have this gene variant by the way, so TMG is likely to help a good amount of people.
Regardless, TMG is neuroprotective so it is likely to help at least some aspects of brain health for most people. It also dampens down inflammation in the brain.
Betaine Benefits for the Heart
Betaine is healthy for the heart because it helps to lower homocysteine levels. By lowering homocysteine levels, betaine may reduce the risk of heart failure, atherosclerosis, venous thrombosis, and strokes.
Early research in animals suggests that betaine may reduce heart failure risk due to pulmonary hypertension as well. However, no clinical trials in humans have yet been done to determine the effects of betaine on many aspects of heart health so far.
Related Post: 7 Nutritional MTHFR Supplements That Changed My Life
Betaine Benefits for MTHFR Gene
Many people have a variant in the gene called MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase). Some research estimates that at least half of people have this condition. People with MTHFR variants have an increased likelihood of cardiovascular disease, inflammation, and diabetes. They may even have an increased risk of fatty liver disease and low bone density.
Additionally, having an MTHFR gene variant increases the risk of having mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, autism, and bipolar disorder.
Further, treating depressive symptoms in people who have MTHFR gene variants with other methyl donors like B vitamins like folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 reduced depressive symptoms as well as reduced homocysteine levels. This calls for more precision medicine without a doubt.
More research needs to be done that looks specifically at using betaine in people with MTHFR gene variants but mechanistically it makes sense that it would help.
Of note, folic acid is not effective in people with MTHFR polymorphisms. Natural folate must be used.
Case reports of early treatment of people with severe MTHFR variants with betaine helped to improve mental and physical development in children.
Betaine Benefits for Pre-workout
Research shows that betaine may help improve body composition and exercise performance by helping people reduce body fat. Body fat levels were also reduced in another study where betaine was given alongside physical training.
Yet another study found that betaine increased the number of repetitions of exercises that could be done such as bench presses, squats, and deadlifts. Betaine is also used to help improve cycling performance and peak power levels while cycling.
Using betaine may help exercise performance by helping burn fat while preventing excess fat storage.
Betaine Benefits for Gut Health
Betaine’s benefits also likely extend to gut health. Several studies have shown that TMG supplements help to improve the microbiome while dampening inflammation and healing the gut lining in animal research.
Fascinatingly, betaine helps to increase anti-obesity probiotic strains including Akkermansia muciniphila, Lactobacillus, and Bifidobacterium. Gut resilience may also be improved by betaine supplementation by reducing inflammation. By doing so, betaine may reduce the risk of inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis too, although more research is needed.
Betaine Benefits for Liver Health
Betaine as TMG is good for the liver because it is an antioxidant that may reduce the buildup of fat in the body, including the liver. It may help both alcohol-related liver conditions as well as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease because it reduces toxins, improves gut barrier function, reduces inflammation, decreases plasma homocysteine, and promotes a healthy microbiome.
While more research is still needed, TMG makes a lot of sense in helping prevent liver diseases.
Betaine safety and side effects
Using betaine as TMG is a very safe supplement and is generally recognized as safe by the FDA. Some people have GI side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, indigestion, and bloating when using TMG. These side effects of TMG are more common at higher doses of betaine such as 3-6 mg per day.
Occasionally, some people state that they have increased energy which causes their sleep to be impaired.
Betaine anhydrous dosage in research studies typically ranges from 500 mg up to 6 grams per day. It is generally best to start with a low dose to see how you feel and increase the dose if needed.
Additionally, it is best to combine betaine with a high-quality natural multivitamin with minerals that contain other methyl donors like folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12.
Who Benefits the Most From TMG?
People who have MTHFR gene variants stand to benefit the most from betaine supplements. Moving forward, research should be devoted to people with this type of gene and using TMG.
You can use Self Decode to find out your DNA genetic traits and your optimal diet, supplements, and exercise routines for your genes. If you don’t want to test your genes, TMG is still worth trying but you may not gain as many health benefits from it.
Betaine Benefits: Reviews
Since betaine has so much potential to improve health, but research is still lagging, betaine reviews can be helpful in determining whether or not you may want to try it.
TMG health benefits are real. I noticed I felt better within 20 minutes of taking this supplement: a calming feeling, a focused feeling, and a relaxed feeling. The effects last all day too, which I love, so I take it first thing in the morning. After two weeks, my workouts seem more effortless too. I only need 750 mg a day and I’m currently using the Source Naturals brand.
“This has increased my energy and focus as well as keeping my mood much more stable without needing to take 5 other supplements.”
“Much cheaper than taking SAM-e and works just as well in my experience.”
“Awesome awesome product! works wonders for my mood.”
“I have only been taking this for a week and I notice a lot more energy, focus at work, and a better mood. My boss actually told me about this because it helps him with energy and stamina on the hockey field. The first day I took it I was so exhausted that I could barely keep my eyes open and I was expecting this to perk me up and it didn’t.
It took a few days to kick in but there is definitely a difference in my mood and energy. I was singing in the kitchen today and just happy, I have MS and my energy is down a lot these days which makes me moody. So far this is helping so I would def recommend it. I will try to remember to update my review in a month or so because like I said, it has only been a week. Excited to see how I feel in a month”
These are helping a lot with my homocysteine levels and I take them with my other b vitamins for an MThfr gene mutation. I’m noticing a huge difference in my health after four weeks on the and the other vitamins I found on MThfr.net site. They are very large pills and normally I have trouble swallowing such big pills but these are going down fine as long as I swallow one at a time and drink a lot of water with each. I started with two a day and now am at three a day and next week will go up to four (recommended dose for my gene issues).
Vital for artery health, by preventing and removing dangerous Homocysteine, AND a “poor mans SAMe
For those spending a small fortune to buy SAMe for depression, use this instead. When combined with quantities of B12 and B6, SAMe is one of its by-products.
I found after a few weeks that my muscle recovery and growth have clearly improved without adversely affecting my health or using questionable substances. I have also noticed the side benefits of heightened focus and increased memory as well. Again this does not quantify the quality of Bulk Supplements products but it leads me to believe that they provide exactly what they claim. (I feel that a placebo effect would explain the significant decrease in muscle soreness that I expected but would not explain the surprising post workout pump and growth which I did not expect at all).
I started this to help my histamine intolerance. It helps metabolize homocysteine which aggravates the histamine problem. After just 2 weeks my intolerance is better. I think it’s what I’ve been looking for…
For some reason I felt inclined taking this product and I am so so thankful. I feel as if I’m invincible working out and have no issues. Idk if it was problems with my heart but I felt so sick holy sh**. I feel my normal self, and am able to lift heavier weights w/o feeling like passing out. Idk if I got this from taking accutane but this supplement has cured me completely and am so thankful
The only downside is every other night I have energy that keeps me up. Minor insomnia but so far the good side effects have been this calming sensation (I am an extremely nervous person). Makes me feel like I’m on a cloud. Libido has increased (prob from heavier weight lifting). My mood has improved
I used to leave the gym feeling like I was gonna pass out, that fn mess has vanished. I felt so bad having to decline offers as workout buddies from my gym but not anymore. Again very thankful. Whatever is in this keep it please 😂🤘🏽
If you need to take methyl-donors like TMG, you may be surprised by the boost of energy. The first teaspoon of this almost felt like a clean Red Bull experience. It doesn’t feel that way anymore after getting my levels normalized, but I still feel better on it than I do without it. I tend to take it first thing in the morning, along with methyl B-12, DMG, and MSM (which I get from Bulk Supplements), just to start the day all methyl’ed up.
It tastes incredibly sweet. I don’t take time to mix it. I just put some water in my mouth, then throw in a teaspoon of TMG, and swallow. It hardens up when it hits the water in my mouth, so you have to swirl it around a bit before swallowing.
Great price for the doses I need. Definitely feeling the effects.
After doing a lot of research about the MTHFR polymorphisms, I was surprised to find that official nutrition guidelines rather ignore the BHMT enzyme homocysteine-methionine pathway. That pathway needs TMG and zinc. TMG is an osmoprotectant in the plant cells it is in; that means it protects the plant cells from having their cell walls breached by dissociated NaCl. Well, our stomach acid is mostly dissociated HCl, which has interesting implications for whether we get enough TMG from the dry wheat, spinach, beets, etc. products we eat.
However, one thing scientists know about TMG–it boils right out of plant cells, 60-80% of it. And what do we convenience-mad Americans do with that TMG-filled cooking water? Why, we pour it down our kitchen drains! Oops.
Since my kids, like many American kids, aren’t accustomed to eating lots of soup, I took the easy route to up our family’s TMG intake by putting a little in the family milk jugs. It’s made very noticeable differences in helping my Asperger’s and ODD children not have meltdowns, and when they don’t get enough of it, I can tell that, too. So I really love this product. I’ll probably transition to more TMG-containing soups as my family gets older, but for now I appreciate this shortcut.
If I eat foods containing betaine do I need a betaine supplement?
TMG is an amino acid found in many foods. Betaine foods are wheat bran, spinach, seafood, beets, rye, turkey, veal, and beef. However, most cooking methods decrease the TMG content of these foods. Some of these foods are also to be avoided due to gut sensitivities such as wheat and rye. If you are looking for a therapeutic effect from TMG, it is probably best to try supplementing it.
Can you combine betaine with medications?
Betaine is a natural amino acid found in the body and no major medication interactions are known with betaine anhydrous (TMG). In contrast, betaine HCL may interact with stomach acid-reducing medications.
Does betaine increase cholesterol levels?
Betaine supplements increase cholesterol levels at higher doses of 3 grams a day, but not at lower doses. The typical increase in LDL cholesterol in research is about 10%. The question remains whether or not the decrease in homocysteine benefits outweighs the slight increase in cholesterol levels. I have a hunch that it is worth it for a lot of people, but if you have a family history of high cholesterol levels, you should avoid high doses of TMG.
When should you take betaine anhydrous?
It is best to take betaine as TMG on an empty stomach, but you can take it with foods to lessen the risk of GI side effects. Some people complain that TMG can cause some mild insomnia, so it is best to take it in the morning for this reason.
Heidi Moretti, MS, RD is The Healthy RD. A registered dietitian for 23 years as well as a book author of the new book Gut Fix and The Whole Body Guide to Gut Health, Heidi has a passion for functional nutrition and natural medicine. She has researched supplements and natural medicine throughout her career. One of her biggest loves is helping people gain function and vitality by tackling the root causes of illness.