Betaine and choline can be obtained from the diet or synthesized de novo.
Betaine is derived from dietary choline – nuts, cauliflower and broccoli, beets, meats, and eggs.
Choline is a lipotrope, in that it helps to mobilize fat from the liver. Phosphatidylcholine, a derivative, is required for the production of hepatic very-low-density lipoprotein and the mobilization of fat from the liver. Therefore, choline deficiency can result in fatty liver and liver abnormalities.
In the methylation cycle, choline is oxidized to form betaine to donate methyl groups for many pathways. One of these pathways is the synthesis of phosphatidylcholine using the enzyme phosphatidylethanolamine N-methyltransferase (PEMT). With this, the interplay between betaine and choline has shown clinical significance.
In spite of helping to mobilize fat from the liver, elevated plasma choline is positively associated with elevated triglycerides, glucose, BMI, body fat, and waist circumference. Plasma betaine is negatively associated with the majority of these risk factors.
Choline is used for:
- Epigenetic gene regulation
- Precursor to lipoproteins
Betaine is used for:
- under cell stress (mainly in kidneys)
Elevated plasma choline is positively associated with: triglycerides, glucose, BMI, body fat, waist circumference. Plasma betaine is negatively associated with the majority of these risk factors.
A low betaine/choline ratio is associated with many of the signature features of metabolic syndrome such as:
- dyslipidemia (an abnormal level of cholesterol and other lipids),
- dysglycemia (an abnormality in blood sugar stability)
- and increased BMI/body fat/waist circumference (body mass index).
Therefore, it may serve as a useful independent biomarker of worsening metabolic function. Furthermore, supplementation with betaine may assist in correcting some of these metabolic concerns and should be considered with low plasma betaine levels.
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