Unless you obsessively read ingredient labels, you have probably never heard of betaine. This chemical occurs naturally in the body. It can also be found in foods such as beets, spinach, seafood, oats, flour, quinoa, cereal grains, and even wine. Most notably, it is used as an ingredient in skin care products, energy products, and supplements. So, what is betaine anhydrous, and why is it important?
Betaine appears in two forms: betaine hydrochloride and betaine anhydrous, which is what we will cover here. Betaine anhydrous occurs naturally and is composed of amino acids and three methyl groups. It is a building block that keeps your metabolism running smoothly and efficiently. Betaine has been extensively studied and comes with a number of benefits.
As your body ages, plaque can build up in your arteries. Unfortunately, this leads to cardiovascular disease. We all know cholesterol can be a risk factor, but have you heard of homocysteine levels? Homocysteine is an amino acid that, at high levels, has been associated with cardiovascular disease.
Betaine helps support normal homocysteine levels by metabolizing the harmful amino acids. One study found that betaine supplementation lowered these homocysteine levels by up to 20%.
Betaine helps the liver digest fats. This is very important because fat accumulation in the liver leads to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD causes inflammation and permanent damage to the liver. What’s worse is some 30-40% of Americans adults suffer from NAFLD. Betaine helps break down fat and prevents it from building up in the liver.
Many pre-workout drinks contain beet extract. Studies show that not only is betaine good for your overall health goals, but it’s great for helping achieve gains in the gym as well. One study showed that college athletes realized a 6% gain in performance levels when drinking betaine for one week. A second study revealed that when supplementing with betaine, overall body composition improved. Researchers believe this is a result of betaine’s role in creatine synthesis.
This is always an important question to ask before adding any supplement to your fitness regimen. Betaine may be an unfamiliar term, but it is not one to be concerned about. As a byproduct of naturally occurring beet sugar, betaine is generally regarded as safe. However, always check with your doctor before adding any new supplement to your diet.
There are no set guidelines for how much betaine you should consume daily. On average, most Americans consume 200 milligrams of betaine per day. That being said, it never hurts to add more spinach, beets, or quinoa to your meals. That goes for adding supplements containing betaine to your diet as well. With its promising heart and liver benefits, and it’s added bonuses at the gym, betaine is a winner!
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