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Br J Nutr. 2004 Oct;92(4):665-9.

The effect of low doses of betaine on plasma homocysteine in healthy volunteers.

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Department of Health and Functional Capacity, National Public Health Institute (KTL), Helsinki, Finland.


Homocysteine is a risk factor for vascular diseases, and lowering of plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) may be beneficial for health. Homocysteine can be remethylated to methionine by betaine-homocysteine methyltransferase using betaine (2(N,N,N-trimethyl)glycine) as methyl donor. A dose of 6 g betaine/d has been used in the treatment of homocystinuria, but data on the dose-response are scarce. Thirty-four healthy men and women were supplied with doses of 1, 3 and 6 g betaine and then with 6 g betaine+1 mg folic acid for four consecutive 1-week periods. The mean plasma tHcy concentration decreased by 1.1 (NS), 10.0 and 14.0 % (P<0.001) after supplementation with 1, 3 and 6 g betaine respectively. A further decrease in plasma tHcy by 5 % (P<0.01) was achieved by combining 1 mg folic acid with the 6 g betaine dose. Plasma betaine increased from 31 (sd 13) to 255 (sd 136) mumol/l in a dose-dependent manner (R(2) 0.97). We conclude that plasma tHcy is lowered rapidly and significantly by 3 or 6 g betaine/d in healthy men and women.

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