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Choline and Betaine Intake Reduces Inflammation.

Choline and Betaine Intake Reduces Inflammation.

Article by Don Goldberg

Choline and Betaine Intake Reduces Inflammation.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Feb 2008;87(2):424-30.

Choline is a water soluble B vitamin that can be produced in the body. However, it is oftenproduced in insufficient quantities, making it necessary for humans to get choline from the dietor through supplementation. Choline is mainly involved in activities related to the brain andnervous system. Because it is involved in neurological function, choline can influencemovement, coordination, and muscle contractions. Choline also plays a critical role in higherlevel brain functions like thought, memory, and intellect. Elsewhere in the body, choline isimportant for the structural integrity of cell walls, the metabolism of fat, and the production ofamino acids and proteins. In the diet, the best source of choline is egg yolk. Other good sourcesinclude organ meats, wheat germ, soybeans, peanuts, legumes and milk.

There tends to be confusion between TMG and betaine HCL. The chemical term for betaine istrimethylglycine (TMG). Betaine hydrochloride (betaine HCL) is betaine with hydrochlorideacid. It is the chloride salt of TMG. Betaine HCL and TMG are extracteded from sugar beets andnaturally occurs in shellfish, spinach, wheat germ and mushrooms. Betaine HCL has a moreacidic taste whereas TMG tastes sweet with a metallic aftertaste. Betaine HCL is commonly usedas a digestive enzyme by individuals who do not produce enough hydrochloric acid to digest theproteins that they eat. A low level of hydrochloric acid can be a contributing factor in numerousother clinical conditions such as asthma, atherosclerosis, candida yeast infections, gastritis, andrheumatoid arthritis. TMG helps to keep the liver healthy and helps lower amino acidhomocysteine levels, which high levels of this acid have been linked to risk of heart disease,heart attack, stroke, and osteoporosis.

Researchers from Harokopio University and the University of Athens, Greece published a studyin the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigating the association between choline andbetaine consumption and homocysteine levels. This was a cross-sectional survey which enrolled3,042 healthy men and women between the ages of 18 to 89 years taking part in the ATTICAStudy. A validated food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ) was used to assess dietary intakes andblood samples were collected to measure levels of inflammatory markers. Researchers reportedthat participants with the highest intake of choline (over 310 mg daily) had at least 20 percentlower concentrations of inflammatory markers in comparison to participants with the lowestintake of choline (less than 250 mg daily). Similar results were obtained from betaine intake. Thehighest intake (over 360 mg daily) resulted in 19 percent lower concentrations of CRP, 10percent lower homocysteine levels and 12 percent lower TNF-alpha levels in comparison toparticipants with the lowest intake of betaine (less than 260 mg daily). The authors concludedthat higher consumption of choline and betaine was associated with decreased levels ofhomocysteine which may reduce the risk in a number of diseases.1


1 Detopoulou P, Panagiotakos DB, Antonopoulou S, et al. Dietary choline and betaine intakes inrelation to concentrations of inflammatory markers in healthy adults: the ATTICA study. Am JClin Nutr. Feb2008;87(2):424-30.