Originally a coined name from Sugar Beets, Betaine is a widely used supplement that has proven safe as well as effective in many industries.
Betaine, also known as trimethylglycine, is a metabolite of choline and is naturally found in beetroot. Betaine acts as a methyl donor to either help eliminate harmful molecules like homocysteine or form S-adenosyl methionine (another methyl donor that helps make creatine endogenously). Homocysteine is a dangerous metabolite of the amino acid cysteine that increases significantly during exercise.9 Elevated levels of homocysteine have been attributed to endothelial cell damage, as well as a biomarker for cardiovascular disease and kidney failure. Research shows that using 3-6g of betaine can reduce homocysteine levels by 10% in healthy individuals to 20-40% in subjects with chronic elevated levels.10 Betaine is also an osmolyte (helps bring water into cells) that helps regulate cell hydration and tonicity, which seems to be the main mechanism for boosting performance. Betaine has many ergogenic benefits such as increased power and strength. A 2010 study involving 12 resistance-trained athletes were given either 2.5g/d of betaine or a placebo for 14 days and exercise performance was measured. The betaine group showed gains in bench throw power, isometric bench force, vertical jump power and isometric squat force.11 A 2011 study demonstrated that 14 days of betaine supplementation resulted in greater post-exercise muscle tissue oxygen saturation vs the placebo. The implications of this may be that betaine may have enhanced Kreb’s cycle efficiency due to its omsoprotective properties and may also improve high-intensity aerobic performance, especially in very hot environments. It stands to reason that betaine may also increase mitochondrial function and improve tissue oxygen consumption.12 Another benefit of betaine supplementation is increased blood flow via NO production. A small study involving 12 subjects who were given either 6g of betaine (the amount in Loco) or a placebo for one week showed a 185% increase in NO plasma levels (crazy pumps).13
Herrmann, Markus, et al. "Homocysteine increases during endurance exercise." Clinical chemistry and laboratory medicine11 (2003): 1518-1524.
Alfthan, Georg, et al. "The effect of low doses of betaine on plasma homocysteine in healthy volunteers." British journal of nutrition4 (2004): 665-669.
Lee, Elaine C., et al. "Ergogenic effects of betaine supplementation on strength and power performance." Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition1 (2010): 27.
Trepanowski, John F., et al. "The effects of chronic betaine supplementation on exercise performance, skeletal muscle oxygen saturation and associated biochemical parameters in resistance trained men." The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research12 (2011): 3461-3471.
Iqbal, Omer, et al. "Betaine induced release of tissue factor pathway inhibitor and nitric oxide: implications in the management of cardiovascular disease." The FASEB Journal4 (2006): A655-A655.
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