Betaine supplementation decreases plasma homocysteine concentrations but does not affect body weight, body composition, or resting energy expenditure in human subjects

Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Nov;76(5):961-7. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/76.5.961.


Background: Betaine (trimethylglycine) is found in several tissues in humans. It is involved in homocysteine metabolism as an alternative methyl donor and is used in the treatment of homocystinuria in humans. In pigs, betaine decreases the amount of adipose tissue.

Objective: The aim of the study was to examine the effect of betaine supplementation on body weight, body composition, plasma homocysteine concentrations, blood pressure, and serum total and lipoprotein lipids.

Design: Forty-two obese, white subjects (14 men, 28 women) treated with a hypoenergetic diet were randomly assigned to a betaine-supplemented group (6 g/d) or a control group given placebo for 12 wk. The intervention period was preceded by a 4-wk run-in period with a euenergetic diet.

Results: Body weight, resting energy expenditure, and fat mass decreased significantly in both groups with no significant difference between the groups. Plasma homocysteine concentrations decreased in the betaine group ( +/- SD: 8.76 +/- 1.63 micro mol/L at 4 wk, 7.93 +/- 1.52 micro mol/L at 16 wk; P = 0.030 for the interaction of time and treatment). Diastolic blood pressure decreased without a significant difference between the groups. Serum total and LDL-cholesterol concentrations were higher in the betaine group than in the control group (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: A hypoenergetic diet with betaine supplementation (6 g daily for 12 wk) decreased the plasma homocysteine concentration but did not affect body composition more than a hypoenergetic diet without betaine supplementation did.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Betaine / blood
  • Betaine / pharmacology*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Body Composition / drug effects*
  • Body Weight / drug effects*
  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / blood
  • Homocystine / blood*
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins / blood
  • Lipotropic Agents / blood
  • Lipotropic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Exertion / drug effects


  • Lipoproteins
  • Lipotropic Agents
  • Betaine
  • Homocystine
  • Folic Acid