Betaine is an amino acid – it is also known as trimethylglycine (TMG). It is a derivative of glycine, that is the simplest amino acid protein. It is a chemical compound with an organic character and belongs to a huge group of betain – zwitterionic ions, which contain fragments with a positive and negative charge (they do not adhere to each other as in the case of ylids). Few of us, unfortunately, know about its existence, and yet it is a substance that fulfills really important functions. Our body produces it together with choline – or vitamin B4, which by its way fulfills a very important role, especially in the case of pregnant women. Betaine owes its name to a fact – it was isolated from beet, which is also its source. Beta is a Latin generic name for beets. These vegetables are considered to be the best natural source of betaine known to us. This substance is getting more and more popular among various dietary supplements available on the market. The better it affects the fact that betaine is a completely natural ingredient.
Betaine as a medicine
More and more often we can meet with names such as Betaine HCL. It is a naturally occurring component of gastric juice. It takes part in digestion, it also promotes the absorption of nutrients. It was available without a prescription until 1993, when it was removed from the list of supplements by the US government institution – the Food and Drug Agency, also known as the FDA. It was believed that it did not stand out with such efficiency as was expected of it. However, the 2014 study confirmed its effectiveness in improving stomach pH.
We are also familiar with Betaine with Pepsin, which, like Betaine, HCL is a natural component of gastric juice. Both of these substances are particularly useful in the absorption of calcium, vitamin B12, iron and also proteins. Pepsin itself is a digestive enzyme. How does it work? It breaks down proteins into smaller elements, thanks to which they will be easily absorbed in the small intestine. It occurs in the stomachs of people and many animals. It is released by the gastric mucosa in the form of inactive proenzyme.
Betaine – actions
This substance – maybe and is not known to most of us – but it is considered very important. It has a huge impact on numerous biochemical processes. It is able to carry any particles, which affects their combination. One can even mention the combination of hydrogen and carbon. One of the processes influenced by betaine is, inter alia, the homocysteine methylation reaction of amino acids with the creation of methionine. This one is a really underestimated amino acid, which is responsible for the internal process of creatine formation increasing muscle strength and mass, protein synthesis – especially for translation.
Betaine – properties
Beets – and thus betaine itself – does not play a major role in our diet. And this is really a big mistake because these vegetables are rich in substances protecting the liver, helping to burn excess fat, inhibiting the growth of bacteria. Betaine has two rather interesting properties. After reaching the human body, it reaches very deeply into the liver cells, thanks to which the reproduction of the above-mentioned methionine is activated. The liver is the body responsible for the capture and neutralization of toxins, and therefore its proper condition is very important – it can affect the delivery of betaine to our body. This substance found in beetroots also supports choline, and its task is to break down fats in the liver. Beets containing betaine may be a key element in the diet of people suffering from obesity and overweight.
Betaine as a product supporting training efforts
Remember not to use betaine too often. It is best to arrange it for doses from two to three times a day. If this substance has overdosed, diarrhea or upset stomach may appear. Betaine should be combined with substances such as creatine. The dosage is also important, i.e. the amount we take. The daily requirement for it is from one to three grams. In the case of training, we should take it one and a half hours before and after exercise.