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So what is Trimethylglycine?
Trimethylglycine or TMG is also more commonly referred to as betaine (BEET-ah-een). For the chemists, as the name implies it is a trimethyl derivative of the common amino acid glycine. TMG is commonly found in our diet in beets (that’s where the name betaine came from), whole grains, spinach and shellfish.
TMG benefits our bodies for several reasons:
1. A potent methyl donor — TMG is involved in thousands of biochemical reactions because it easily donates one or two methyl groups (CH3), which are required in millions of biochemical reactions. Here are some examples:
• Lowers homocysteine — Homocysteine is an amino acid that, in excess, is irritating to the arteries and is strongly associated with inflammation and hardening of the arteries. In fact, the levels of homocysteine correlate more strongly with heart disease than cholesterol levels.
Doctors are beginning to realize this important link. High homocysteine levels occur when there is not enough TMG or folic acid to donate to enough methyl groups. There can be other causes, but this is a major one.
Another major cause is the presence of toxic levels of mercury and copper. However, this can usually be controlled with a diet high in TMG and folate.
High homocysteine also causes other problems. For example, a deficiency of methionine can cause a deficiency of SAMe, leading to depression in some people.
Methionine is needed for other biochemical reactions involving protein synthesis, another critical body function. In fact, reducing excessive homocysteine helps with conditions ranging from osteoporosis and birth defects to cancer and aging. It also helps with antioxidant protection.
• Aids in liver detoxification — Methyl groups are absolutely essential for the phase 2 liver detoxification pathways. Basically, fat-soluble or insoluble toxins that are difficult for the liver to metabolize and eliminate are joined to a methyl group.
As a result, the toxin becomes much more soluble in water. This allows the body to prepare the toxin for elimination and often neutralizes some of its toxic properties. These toxins include all the toxic metals found in various compounds, as well as some toxic chemicals. Also included are telomeres, waste products involved in DNA transcription, which is the copying of the genetic code to make all the chemicals our bodies need.
• Alleviates depression — TMG increases the body’s natural production of SAMe or S-adenosyl methionine, which can help reduce depression, in some cases.
• Helps release traumas — As trauma release occurs, some people may experience retracing symptoms such as anxiety, fear, depression and anger. However, so far, taking TMG actually reduces retracing symptoms in most cases.
• Reduces the chances of diabetes — Methyl groups are involved in insulin release and insulin activity. When the body does not have enough active methyl groups, diabetes is more likely to occur.
• Avoids genetic problems — Methyl groups are needed for protein synthesis, also called biosynthesis. When there are too few, biosynthesis slows and genetic errors, also called transcription errors, multiply, and life expectancy is shortened.
2. DMG — When TMG lets go of one of its methyl groups, it deposits a substance called dimethylglycine or DMG. This is a B-complex vitamin and is used to improve speech and behavior in autism, for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), epilepsy and neurological function. It can also reduce physical and environmental stress, improve oxygen utilization, enhance liver function and optimize athletic performance.
DMG is also an anti-inflammatory, has antiaging effects, improves the immune response, treats tumors, and enhances antiviral, antibacterial and antitumor defenses. It is also used to treat chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies, respiratory disorders, alcoholism and drug addiction. Additionally, it has been used to lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides and to help normalize blood pressure and blood glucose.
Despite all of its uses, I do not recommend taking a DMG supplement. I believe it is better to supplement with TMG.
3. Glycine — When TMG gives up all its methyl groups, glycine is left. This is the smallest of the amino acids and is very important for the formation of collagen, among other functions. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and is necessary for connective tissue, such as tendons, ligaments, cartilage, arteries, veins and other similar structures.
Glycine taken daily in large doses of up to 3000 mg has been found helpful for sleep and alertness. I do not use larger doses, but this could be tried if nothing else works.
TMG can also be made in the body naturally via oxidation of choline-containing compounds. One of its primary functions in the body is to act as an ‘osmolyte’ and increase water retention of cells. It migrates in and out of cells to preserve cellular hydration state. Like creatine, a higher cellular trimethylglycine concentration can help preserve cell structure and make the cell more resilient to stress.
Another important function of TMG is that it also acts as a methyl group donor in creatine synthesis as well as conversion of homocysteine to methionine. Some studies have shown that TMG supplementation may lower plasma homocysteine levels, this is important since elevated homocysteine levels can lead to blood vessel inflammation, making it a risk for heart disease.
Beyond its potential heart health benefits, TMG has also been the subject of a range of studies for its performance benefits. These human trials demonstrate a significant improvement in physical performance, especially in muscle strength, power and endurance.
What benefits can I get from supplementing with Trimethylglycine?
There have been several recent studies exploring the potential benefits of TMG supplementation, and most of them have yielded some impressive results. Nearly all studies examined a daily dosage of 2.5 grams of TMG. In many cases the dose was split with 1.25g twice per day.
While study designs varied between the clinicals, several benefits were perceived from supplementation with TMG at this level. Here’s a quick summary:
So what’s the net effect from all these results? Whether by means of improved cellular hydration, methyl donation or improved hormonal balance, trimethylglycine supplementation works. It improves muscle power output and endurance to enhance your workouts and maximize your time spent training. It is a vital supplement for those seeking optimal muscle power and performance.
When is it optimal to take TMG? How much?
It’s quite evident from the consistency of the literature that the appropriate dosage of TMG is about 2.5 grams per day. Ideally it should be split in two doses 1.25g each; the first dose taken prior to training and the second either during or after your workout to replenish cellular stores.
There are no known serious side effects of trimethlyglycine supplementation, and the longer term 6 week study supports that. It is important to note that you should look closely at the source of the TMG in products you may be considering and ensure that is listed as ‘Trimethylglycine’ or ‘Betaine Anhydrous’ and NOT ‘Betaine Hydrochloride (HCl)’ which is commonly used as fish food or for low stomach acid related digestion issues.
Posted on February 4, 2015 by
by Dr. Larry Wilson —
Many people believe or were taught that diet alone provides adequate nutrition and that we do not need to take nutritional supplements. I, too, believed this at one time. However, years of experience as a physician proved me wrong.
Our food supply today is low in nutrients — even the finest fresh, locally grown organic food. In addition, the high level of metal and chemical toxicity present in the environment increases the demands of our bodies for certain nutrients. As a result, nutritional supplements can be extremely helpful to achieve and maintain optimal health, a fact I cannot emphasize enough.
It is not necessary to take more food supplements than are needed, however. I have found that certain nutritional supplements are quite essential: ones that are either low in most diets or that provide special benefits that cannot be obtained in other ways.
Among the nutrients low in the food supply are zinc, calcium, magnesium, selenium, chromium, B-complex vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. They are well-known nutrients and many people supplement with them today.
Trimethylglycine or TMG is not as well-known and is of a slightly different nature. It is a nontoxic, vitamin-like substance that is produced within the body. It is also found in certain foods, such as cooked vegetables. Taking it as a food supplement seems to have wonderful additional benefits and, so far, has no known adverse effects.
The benefits of TMG range from reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer to assisting your body in maintaining its proper genetics to its ability to remove toxic metals and toxic chemicals. TMG is also known as betaine and was first isolated from sugar beets. It is not the same as betaine HCl.
Some TMG is produced in a healthy body. It can also be obtained from certain foods or taken as a supplement, which is available at many health food stores.
Not enough made by the body — The reason the body does not produce enough TMG appears to be that the presence of certain toxic metals, especially mercury and copper, interferes with the body’s production of methyl groups. In addition, stress, infections, inflammation and other conditions may use up what the body makes, so more is needed.
The problem of mercury toxicity is so widespread that I chuckle when people want to be tested for it. I tell them everyone is mercury toxic today because it is so prevalent in the environment. In fairness, some people are more mercury toxic than others, but we are all subject to it.
If you eat fish or seafood, your toxicity level will be much higher. If you have silver/mercury dental amalgams, your level will also be higher. Mercury can contribute to hundreds of health problems.
Most people today also are toxic from certain forms of copper, regardless of what blood, urine or other tests reveal. In fact, these tests are notoriously inaccurate. One cause of copper toxicity is the widespread zinc deficiency in the soil and in our food. This tends to cause more copper accumulation in the body.
Although copper toxicity affects both women and men, it tends to be more prevalent in women. Copper imbalance is responsible for most headaches, female organ problems and mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety and panic attacks, skin conditions and more.
Not enough in the diet — The main foods naturally high in TMG and folate (both methyl donors) are broccoli, beets and other vegetables. The problem is that most people do not eat nearly enough of these foods in order to get a sufficient amount of TMG from their diet.
A wonderful dietary improvement is to eat three or more large portions of cooked vegetables every day. Be sure to include broccoli and dark green vegetables, such as spinach, Swiss chard, mustard greens, beet greens and kale.
Supplements are helpful — As a result of low production inside the body, increased demand for methyl groups due to pollution and low dietary intake of TMG, most people have a deficiency of methyl groups. This can lead to disease and decreased longevity. For this reason, taking about 500 to 1000 mg of TMG daily for adults and less for children is beneficial for many people.
TMG comes in tablets or capsules of 500, 750 and 1000 mg strengths. So far, I have found that adults need about 500 to 1000 mg daily. I suggest buying the 500 mg tablets, which are manufactured by at least two companies — Jarrow FORMULAS® and Life Extension®.
Giving TMG to children — I have found that children and even babies several months old may benefit from taking a little TMG. Of course, they need proportionately less TMG than adults, depending on their size and weight. It is available in liquid, powder or crystals, which may be easier to give to children. TMG does not taste too bad, so it may be possible to simply add it to their food.
Cautions with TMG — Most people have not reported side effects from taking TMG. People usually feel better and often report improved sleep and perhaps a little more energy. However, a few people have reported some fatigue and nausea symptoms upon starting a TMG supplement. Usually, this passes within a few days. It is likely due to the release of some toxic metals. Sometimes, TMG can cause diarrhea and nausea, and may adversely affect the cholesterol level. However, this should not occur with the dosage I suggest of 500 mg to 1000 mg daily for adults and less for children. To be on the safe side, always consult with your heath care provider.
One can remain on TMG for years without a problem because it is nontoxic, unlike other drugs.
The most important reason why TMG is not more widely used is that methylation is somewhat complex. Most medical doctors, holistic doctors, nutritionists and naturopaths do not understand it well.
Another possible reason is that to lower homocysteine, most doctors suggest a combination of supplementary vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid rather than TMG. Some others suggest that this is a mistake and that TMG may work better. In fact, TMG is the recommended medical treatment for homocysteinuria, a rare genetic disease.
TMG is used liberally by the poultry and livestock industries. It is used as a food additive to help reduce the fat content, improve the muscle meat and regulate the amount of feed necessary to produce the best meat.
Frankel, P. and Madsen, F., Stop Homocysteine Through The Methylation Process, The Research Corner, 1998.
Dr. Lawrence Wilson has a medical degree and has been in the health field for more than 25 years. His books include Nutritional Balancing and Hair Mineral Analysis, Legal Guidelines for Unlicensed Practitioners, Healing Ourselves and Manual of Sauna Therapy and The Real Self. He also co-authored Toxic Metals in Human Health and Disease and contributed to The Dangers of Socialized Medicine. www.drlwilson.com or 928-445-7690.
Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 32, Number 2, April/May 2013.
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