How Does Betaine Work As A Performance Enhancer?

by Erik Tremblay

Betaine is a compound derived from the amino acid choline and shown to have positive effects as a performance enhancer. Betaine is beneficial as a performance enhancer due to its ability to aid natural biological processes, in which it does so in the following ways:

METHYL-GROUP DONOR

A major reason Betaine is thought to improve performance is due to its role as a methyl-group donor. A methyl group, which we have talked about in previous posts, is a carbon atom bonded to three hydrogens and are important in many biological processes. This is due to the fact that methyl groups typically act to sterically block molecular interactions (they create an obstacle on the molecule they are bound too, making it harder for enzymes to bind to that molecule and break it down). Methylation also occurs in many normal biological cycles to generate different compounds needed for different tasks. Betaine has a specific role as being a methyl-group donator to the amino acid homocysteine. This amino has been linked to problems with vascularity and inflammation, as well as impaired insulin signaling when not regulated. The methylation of homocysteine can block its negative effects when it is in high levels and it also leads to the synthesis of an essential amino-acid known as Methionine. This amino-acid is an important methyl-group donor as well, but in the process of DNA Methylation. Methylation to DNA is natural process that usually results in the suppression of the gene that is transcribed(transcription is the synthesis of RNA from DNA, which is needed to generate the RNA to be translated into proteins) where the methyl-group is located. Again, this is due to the fact that the methyl-group acts to sterically block molecular interactions and is beneficial in many processes for them to work normally. So in the process of transcription, the methyl groups act to block the DNA polymerase enzyme from adding nucleotides to the RNA strand being made, leaving that gene suppressed.

ROLE OF METHIONINE

So, Betaine plays a direct role in the synthesis of many molecules that require a methyl-group to be donated, however the most important one relating to performance enhancement is Methionine. However, why exactly is methionine important?

Well, it’s important because it plays a critical role in the your bodies natural synthesis of creatine. Methionine is one of 3 amino acids required for creatine synthesis (arginine and glycine being the other 2) , due to it’ss role as the methyl-donor. Methionine is also critical in the process of protein synthesis, as yes once again, it acts as a methyl-group donor specifically in process of translation. In order for functional proteins to be synthesized in the body, RNA must first be made through the process of transcription which we talked about earlier in the article as the process that makes RNA from DNA. This RNA is then translated into functional proteins through the process of translation. Having sufficient methionine levels helps increase the rates of protein synthesis due to the surplus of the methyl-group donator.

OTHER BENEFITS

Betaine Anhydrous is also an osmotic compound that aids in keeping cells hydrated. It has also been linked to improving depression and anxiety as it increases S-adenoylmethionine (SAMe) levels which have been shown to reduce depression.

Daily Dose

Luckily, Betaine is not required in large doses to work effectively. The recommended dose is between 1-3g daily, but most research shows that 1.5g is the clinically effective amount. This is why 1.5g of Betaine anhydrous (anhydrous just meaning that it has been dehydrated) is included in our pre-workout N.O. SPOT

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