Betaine (Trimethylglycine)

Trimethylglycine (TMG) is an amino acid derivative that occurs in plants. Trimethylglycine was the first betaine discovered; originally it was merely called betaine because, in the 19th century, it was found in sugar beets. [1] Since then, many other betaines have been discovered, and the more specific name glycine betaine distinguishes this one.

In foods: TMG (mg/100g)
Quinoa 630
Spinach 577
Wheat Bran 360
Lamb’s Quarters 332
Beetroot 256


What are the benefits of TMG?

TMG is an important cofactor in methylation, a process that occurs in every cell of mammals to synthesise and donate methyl groups (CH3) for other processes in the body. These processes include the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. Methylation is also required for the biosynthesis of melatonin and the electron transport chain constituent coenzyme Q10. In animals, melatonin is involved in the entrainment (synchronisation) of the circadian rhythms including sleep-wake timing, blood pressure regulation, seasonal reproduction, and many others. [5]

  • Dopamine and serotonin improve your mood and make you feel happy.
  • Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland in humans and animals and regulates sleep and wakefulness. It is used to treat insomnia and can help you sleep better.
  • TMG has therefore been proposed as a treatment for depression. [4]

The significant step in the methylation cycle is the remethylation of homocysteine, a compound which is naturally generated during deamination of the essential amino acid methionine. Despite its natural formation, homocysteine has been linked to inflammation, depression, specific forms of dementia, and various types of vascular disease. The remethylation process detoxifies homocysteine and converts it back to methionine.

  • TMG detoxifies homocysteine reducing the risk of certain serious medical condition, as above.


  • Factory farms supplement fodder with TMG and lysine to increase livestock’s’ muscle mass (and, therefore, “carcass yield”, the amount of usable meat).
  • Salmon farms apply TMG to relieve the osmotic pressure on the salmon’s cells when workers transfer the fish from freshwater to saltwater.
  • Although TMG supplementation decreases the amount of adipose tissue in pigs, research on human subjects has shown no effect on body weight, body composition, or resting energy expenditure when used in conjunction with a low-calorie diet. [2]
  • It has been suggested that TMG may increase muscle mass and decrease adipose tissue (fat) in humans. However, more research is needed before this can be trusted.
  • TMG supplementation may cause diarrhoea, stomach upset, or nausea. TMG supplementation lowers homocysteine but also raises LDL-cholesterol. [3]
  • Do not take if you are suffering from stomach or duodenal pain or history of stomach ulcers.
  • Always read the labels on the supplements container.


  1. Schiweck, Hubert; Clarke, Margaret; Pollach, Gunter (2205), “Sugar”, Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, Weinheim: Wiley -VCH.
  2. Schwab, U.; Torronen, A.; Toppinen, L.; et al. (November 2002). “Betaine supplementation decrease plasma homocysteine concentration but does not affect body weight; body composition, or resting energy expenditure in human subjects”. Am J. Clin. Nutr. 76 (5): 961-967.
  3. Olthof MR, Van Vliet T, Verhoef P, Zock PL, Katan MB (2005). “Effect of homocysteine-lowering nutrients on blood lipids: results from four randomised, placebo-controlled studies in healthy humans”. PL0S Med. 2 (5): e135.
  4. Mischoulon D, Fava M (2002). “Role of S-adenosyl-L-methionine in the treatment of depression: a review of the evidence”. J. Clin. Nutr. 76 (5): 1158S-61S.
  5. Altun A, Ugur-Altun B, (may 2007). “Melatonin: therapeutic and clinical utilization”. Int. J. Clin. Pract. 61 (5): 835 -45.



The medical and/or nutritional information on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Each individual’s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health. Foods supplements should not be used instead of a varied, balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

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