Betaine - NutraPedia

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Betaine: An Overview

1) Conditions Studied for Betaine

Betaine has been studied for a range of conditions, including:

  • Homocystinuria (an inherited condition where the body is unable to process the amino acid homocysteine)
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Muscle weakness and endurance
  • Depression
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Improvement of athletic performance

2) Efficacy in Treating Conditions

For some conditions, betaine is considered effective, while for others, more research is needed to establish its efficacy:

  • In homocystinuria, betaine has been shown to lower homocysteine levels effectively.
  • There is mixed evidence on its effectiveness for fatty liver disease and improving athletic performance.
  • Its role in muscle strength, depression, and cardiovascular disease is not well-established and requires further study.

3) Health Benefits of Betaine

Betaine may offer various health benefits:

  • It serves as a methyl donor in the methylation process, which is vital for many bodily functions.
  • May contribute to heart health by lowering homocysteine levels.
  • Could potentially improve digestion by increasing stomach acid.
  • May enhance exercise performance and body composition when combined with proper training.

4) Downsides of Betaine

While betaine is generally considered safe, there are potential downsides:

  • High doses can cause gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea, stomach upset, and diarrhea.
  • May interact with certain medications or pre-existing health conditions.
  • Long-term safety and optimal dosing guidelines are not well-established for all uses.

5) Betaine's Effects on Genetic Variations

The impact of betaine can vary depending on genetic makeup:

  • Individuals with certain genetic mutations affecting the methylation cycle might benefit more from betaine supplementation.
  • People with the MTHFR gene mutation may find betaine helpful in reducing homocysteine levels.
  • Genetic variations can influence the body's response to betaine, and its supplementation may not be beneficial for everyone.

Impact of Betaine Supplementation on Health and Disease

Betaine supplementation has been studied extensively for its impact on cardiovascular disease markers and other health outcomes.

Cardiovascular Disease Markers

  • Betaine supplementation can significantly increase betaine levels, total cholesterol, LDL, DMG, and methionine in the blood while reducing homocysteine levels.
  • No effect was observed on triglycerides, HDL, fasting blood glucose, C-reactive protein, liver enzymes, or blood pressure.
  • Doses up to 4 grams per day may lower homocysteine without negatively affecting lipid profiles.

Homocysteine Levels in Healthy Adults

  • Daily betaine intake of at least 4 grams for a minimum of 6 weeks effectively lowers plasma homocysteine in healthy individuals.

Homocysteine-Lowering Interventions and Cardiovascular Events

  • Supplementation with vitamins B6, B9, or B12 alone or in combination did not significantly impact myocardial infarction or all-cause mortality.
  • A small benefit was observed for stroke prevention, yet further research is warranted.

Therapeutic Benefits of Betaine

  • Betaine is protective against liver diseases and supports gut and adipose tissue health.
  • It contributes to reducing oxidative stress and the development of cancer.
  • Neuroprotective, supports heart function, and prevents fat accumulation in the pancreas.

Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)

  • Betaine treatment leads to biochemical and histological improvement in NASH patients.
  • However, betaine did not improve hepatic steatosis or other mechanisms thought to contribute to NASH significantly.

Muscle Strength and Power Performance

  • Some studies suggest betaine supplementation may improve muscle strength and power, but evidence is insufficient.
  • Betaine may enhance muscle endurance and positively affect endocrine function in adolescent athletes.
  • Chronic betaine supplementation showed a moderate improvement in bench press performance in resistance-trained men.

Metabolic Flexibility and Body Composition in Women

  • Betaine supplementation may improve body composition and certain performance markers in collegiate women.

Comparison with Creatine Supplementation

  • Betaine alone does not enhance muscle PCr content or strength and power performance as much as creatine does.
  • Creatine supplementation, alone or in combination with betaine, improves strength performance in untrained subjects.


  1. Effects of betaine supplementation on cardiovascular markers: A systematic review and Meta-analysis
  2. Betaine supplementation decreases plasma homocysteine in healthy adult participants: a meta-analysis
  3. Homocysteine-lowering interventions for preventing cardiovascular events
  4. Beneficial Effects of Betaine: A Comprehensive Review
  5. Betaine, a promising new agent for patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis: results of a pilot study
  6. Betaine for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: results of a randomized placebo-controlled trial
  7. Effects of Betaine Supplementation on Muscle Strength and Power: A Systematic Review
  8. Effect of betaine supplementation on power performance and fatigue
  9. Ergogenic effects of betaine supplementation on strength and power performance
  10. Effects of short-term betaine supplementation on muscle endurance and indices of endocrine function following acute high-intensity resistance exercise in young athletes
  11. The effects of chronic betaine supplementation on exercise performance, skeletal muscle oxygen saturation and associated biochemical parameters in resistance trained men
  12. Effects of Betaine Supplementation on Markers of Metabolic Flexibility, Body Composition, and Anaerobic Performance in Active College-Age Females
  13. Creatine but not betaine supplementation increases muscle phosphorylcreatine content and strength performance

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