Little known nutrient Betaine showsbenefit.
Although folic acid and to a lesser extent vitamins B-6 andB-12, are known to be able to reduce levels of homocysteine,researchers from the Netherlands report of another nutrient-betaine,found mostly in eggs and liver also has this capability.
They note that elevated plasma total homocysteine concentrationsare considered a risk factor for giving birth to a child withneural tube defects and for cardiovascular disease.
Just like folic acid, betaine facilitates the remethylationof homocysteine into methionine. However, the researchersnote that " ... the folate-dependent remethylation takesplace in all cells, whereas the betaine-dependent remethylationreaction is mainly confined to the liver."
According to the authors, eggs and liver are the best foodsources of betaine.
Additionally, they note that betaine has been shown to substantiallydecrease homocysteine levels in patients with a conditionknown as homocystinuria, and they therefore theorized thatit could have the same benefit in healthy patients as well.
Researchers looked at 15 healthy patients aged 18 to 35 years, who were given six grams of betaine daily (two times per day at three grams) for three weeks.
Blood samples were collected after an overnight fast at the start, after two weeks, and at the end of the study at three weeks.
At the study's start, the mean total plasma homocysteine level was 10.9 µmol/L.
The six grams of betaine decreased this level at two weeks by 0.9 µmol/L or slightly greater than 8 percent, although after three weeks by 0.6 µmol/L or 5.5 percent.
The authors conclude that "Betaine supplementation decreasesplasma total homocysteine concentrations in healthy volunteers."However, the extent of the decrease is much smaller in healthyvolunteers than in patients with homocystinuria. In such patients,with plasma total homocysteine concentrations above 50 µmol/L,betaine supplementation significantly lowered plasma totalhomocysteine concentrations, by up to 75 percent."
However, they note that "The homocysteine-lowering effectseems smaller than that established by interventions withfolic acid."
Betaine, also known as trimethylglycine, is produced by thebody from choline and also from the amino acid glycine.
Archivesof Internal MedicineSeptember 11, 2000;160
It is surprising that betaine also shows improvement inhomocysteine. I use it quite frequently as an aid to digestionwhen it shows up clinically on people.
There is a hydrochloric acid reflex present on the lowestrib approximately one inch lateral to the midline. If thisarea on the rib is tender to palpation there is a strong likelihoodthe person is deficient in hydrochloric acid and would benefitfrom supplementation.
This is especially common in individuals over 50 yearsold, and also in individuals with food allergies.