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Betaine (Trimethylglycine TMG): A Guide for Supplement Users

Quick Summary

  • Enhances muscle strength, power, and endurance, making it valuable for athletes.
  • Betaine lowers homocysteine levels, reducing the risk of heart diseases.
  • Acts as an osmolyte, helping to prevent fatty liver disease by promoting fat metabolism.
  • Reduces inflammation, potentially lowering the risk of chronic diseases.
  • Protects tissues from oxidative stress, particularly in the context of chronic ethanol consumption.
  • Available as Betaine Anhydrous, Betaine HCl, and in complex pre-workout formulas for various health benefits.
  • High doses can cause gastrointestinal issues, body odor, and rare increases in LDL cholesterol levels.
  • Works well with creatine, choline, B vitamins, and nitrate-rich supplements for enhanced performance and health benefits.

Betaine, also known as trimethylglycine (TMG), is a naturally occurring compound that has garnered attention for its various health benefits, particularly in the realms of physical performance, liver health, and cardiovascular function. This article will delve into the essential aspects of betaine, including its sources, benefits, potential side effects, recommended dosages, and how it can be effectively stacked with other supplements.

What is Betaine?

Betaine is a methyl donor, meaning it provides methyl groups necessary for numerous biochemical reactions in the body. It was first discovered in sugar beets, which is why it is named betaine. In the body, betaine plays a crucial role in the methylation process, which involves transferring a methyl group to various substances, such as DNA, proteins, and lipids. This process is vital for maintaining proper cell function and regulation.

Where Does Betaine Come From?

Betaine is naturally found in various foods, particularly in grains, spinach, beets, and shellfish. Dietary intake of betaine is essential for supporting its numerous functions in the body. Additionally, betaine can be synthesized from choline, another important nutrient involved in methylation and lipid metabolism.

Given its natural occurrence in several food sources, it is possible to maintain adequate levels of betaine through a balanced diet. However, supplementation is often used to achieve higher concentrations that may offer additional health benefits.

Betaine Benefits

Betaine offers a wide range of benefits, supported by numerous studies highlighting its impact on health and performance:

  • Cardiovascular Health: Betaine helps reduce homocysteine levels in the blood, an amino acid linked to cardiovascular diseases. Elevated homocysteine can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of heart conditions. Studies have shown that betaine supplementation can effectively lower plasma homocysteine concentrations, thereby supporting heart health.
  • Liver Health: Betaine acts as an osmolyte, helping to protect liver cells from stress and damage. It has been shown to prevent fatty liver disease by promoting the metabolism of fat within the liver.
  • Athletic Performance: Betaine is popular among athletes for its ergogenic effects. It has been shown to improve muscle strength, power, and endurance during exercise. Studies suggest that betaine supplementation enhances power performance and reduces fatigue, making it a valuable addition to an athlete's regimen, often used as a pre-workout.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Research indicates that betaine has anti-inflammatory effects, which can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases associated with inflammation. The ATTICA study highlighted its potential in lowering concentrations of inflammatory markers in healthy adults.
  • Oxidative Stress Reduction: Betaine has been found to combat oxidative stress, particularly in the context of chronic ethanol consumption. This makes it beneficial for individuals exposed to oxidative stressors, helping to protect tissues from damage.
  • Cognitive Function: Emerging evidence suggests that betaine may support cognitive health by influencing methylation processes that are crucial for brain function.

Negative Side Effects of Betaine

While betaine is generally considered safe, excessive intake can lead to some adverse effects:

  • Gastrointestinal Issues: High doses of betaine may cause digestive discomfort, including nausea, diarrhea, and stomach upset.
  • Body Odor: Some users report a fishy body odour when consuming large amounts of betaine, likely due to its choline content.
  • Elevated Cholesterol Levels: In rare cases, betaine supplementation may increase LDL cholesterol levels, although this effect is not commonly observed.

It is important to follow recommended dosages and consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen, especially for individuals with pre-existing health conditions.

Betaine Recommended Dosages & Timing

The optimal dosage of betaine can vary depending on the desired outcome:

  • For Cardiovascular Health: Studies suggest a daily intake of 3 grams of betaine to effectively lower homocysteine levels.
  • For Athletic Performance: A typical dose ranges from 2.5 to 6 grams per day. It is often recommended to split the dosage into two servings, taken before and after workouts to maximize its ergogenic effects.
  • For Liver Health: A daily dose of 1 to 2 grams is generally sufficient to support liver function and prevent fatty liver disease.

It is advisable to start with a lower dose to assess tolerance and gradually increase as needed.

Betaine Supplements

Betaine is available in various forms, including:

  • Complex Formulas: The most common and popular use of betaine is as part of a complex formula. It is frequently included in pre-workout and pump pre-workout formulas such as Elemental Nutrition Pump, where it is combined with other performance-enhancing ingredients. These complex formulas leverage the synergistic effects of multiple components to boost energy, enhance muscle performance, and improve endurance during workouts. Betaine's role in these formulas is to enhance muscle power, reduce fatigue, and support overall workout performance.
  • Betaine Anhydrous: This is the most common form used in supplements, providing pure betaine without additional compounds. It is widely favoured for its versatility and efficacy.
  • Betaine Hydrochloride (HCl): Often used to support digestive health, this form combines betaine with hydrochloric acid to aid stomach acidity and digestion.

Stacking Betaine

Betaine can be effectively stacked with other supplements to enhance its benefits:

  • Creatine: Combining betaine with creatine can amplify strength and power gains, as both compounds support muscle performance.
  • Choline: Since betaine is derived from choline, taking both together can optimise methylation processes and enhance cognitive and liver health.
  • B Vitamins: These vitamins play a role in methylation and can complement betaine's effects on homocysteine reduction and overall health.
  • Nitrate-Rich Supplements: Betaine may enhance the benefits of nitrate-rich supplements, such as beetroot extract, by promoting nitric oxide production, which improves blood flow and exercise performance.


Betaine is a versatile supplement with wide-ranging benefits for health and performance. By understanding its sources, benefits, and proper usage, users can effectively incorporate betaine into their supplement regimen to enhance their overall well-being.


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11. Iqbal O, et al. Betaine induced release of tissue factor pathway inhibitor and nitric oxide: implications in the management of cardiovascular disease. Presented at the 2006 meeting of Experimental Biology 2006.
12. Iqbal O, et al. Betaine a novel anticoagulant with combined nitric oxide and tissue factor pathway release potential. Implications in the management of peripheral vascular diseases. Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis. 2005; 3(Supplement 1):P0520.
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