Betaine- Not Just an Exercise Performance Enhancer, Methylation Enhancer
Betaine, also called trimethylglycine (TMG) is a substance our bodies make, and is found in shell fish and beets. It is involved in liver function, cellular reproduction, the formation of carnitine, and provides another pathway to convert homocysteine to methionine. It is also a source of methyl groups. It is approved by the FDA for the treatment of high homocysteine in a condition called homocystinuria. Because of the central role in supporting the methylation cycle, it is generally taken along with vitamins B6, methyl B-12, and methyl-folate, the other key vitamins supporting methylation.
Many of those that care for children with autism have tried this supplement to support methylation, and sometimes with good results in improved biochemistry and function.
Numerous studies the past couple years have shown betaine to be an enhancer of athletic performance. It is thought that the enhanced carnitine, which helps improve energy at the cellular level, is the mechanism by which betaine improves strength, power, and short-term performance. The article in the International Society of Sports Nutrition, “Effect of betaine supplementation on cycling performance,” in 2012 is well referenced an demonstrates the short term benefits of betaine on power in all parameters measured. You can read that article here…
Since so many of us suffer from conditions that would benefit from improved methylation, this is a supplement one should consider. Anyone with high homocysteine, or at risk for heart disease might consider this supplement. Doses of up to a gram a day are typically safe and well tolerated.
For children, the dose is not established, but should be some fraction of a gram a day. Since this is a natural substance found in food, side effects tend to be rare but may include nausea or upset stomach, so it may be best to take this with food.
A thorough review was done 2004 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and can be read here…
Consult with your physician before trying this supplement.