What is betaine?
Betaine, also known as TRIMETILGLICINA (TMG), is an amino acid present in living beings, with three reactive methyl groups and a dipole structure.
Betaine’s main physiological function is to act as an organic osmolyte, OSMOPROTECTOR, to protect cells from dehydration.
The regulation of the state of cellular hydration, and therefore of cell volume, is important for the maintenance of the correct functioning of biochemical processes, especially DNA replication and protein folding-formation.
The main role of Betaine in plants and microorganisms is to protect cells against osmotic inactivation. Exposure to drought, low relative humidity, high salinity, or temperature stress triggers the synthesis of Betaine from choline in the mitochondria, resulting in its accumulation in cells.
Betaine is an osmolyte that increases the water retention of cells, replaces inorganic salts, and protects intracellular enzymes against osmotically induced or high temperature and low humidity induced inactivation.
Another primary physiological activity of Betaine is to be a donor of methyl groups, through transmethylation, for use in many biochemical pathways.
The main metabolic reaction of betaine is the transfer of a methyl group, to the toxic molecule, of homocysteine, thus forming a methionine molecule.
Inadequate intake of betaine can cause disorders in liver metabolism and high homocysteine concentrations (related to cardiac pathologies and the appearance of osteoporosis).
How does Betaine work against viruses?
Betaine has shown with several studies its usefulness in the treatment of infectious diseases. In viral infections, apart from their action in regulating the immune response, there are indications of possible actions at various levels:
• Stabilization of the cytoplasmic membrane, reducing viral penetration.
• Interaction with viral particles. Osmolytes destabilize the virus capsid proteins by interfering with the complete assembly of the virus.
• Interaction with RNA replication, there are certain RNA fragments that are denatured by osmolytes. Certain viral RNA fragments could be denatured, thereby blocking viral replication within the cell.
In the Covid-19 Virus, it is possible that the alteration mode of the viral replication is the blockade of the non-structural protein (nsp) 14 of the coronavirus; (guanine-N7) -methyltransferase; (N7-MTase).
How does Betaine influence the immune system?
Accumulated evidence has shown that Betaine has anti-inflammatory functions in numerous diseases.
Betaine improves the metabolism of sulfur amino acids against oxidative stress, inhibits the activity of nuclear factor B and the activation of the inflammasome NLRP3, regulates energy metabolism and mitigates stress and apoptosis of the endoplasmic reticulum. It gives greater stability to the cytoplasmic membrane in situations of stress due to inflammations, it decreases the rate of cellular apoptosis.
Betaine decreased Gumboro disease-induced mRNA expression levels in chickens (RNA virus) from IL-6, and IFN and IRF7 were suppressed by their methylation, reducing lesions and lymphopenia caused.
How can we increase our Betaine levels?
Betaine can be found naturally in plant products such as beets, broccoli, quinoa, spinach, cereals, germ and cereal bran, and in products of aquatic origin such as seafood and in animal meats such as chicken, pork and beef supplemented in your betaine diet.
We can synthesize Betaine from choline, therefore an appropriate intake of choline facilitates reaching acceptable levels of Betaine.
Who Should Take Betaine Supplements?
A healthy and balanced diet must provide sufficient levels of Betaine, in children and young people.
With age, betaine levels decrease, with seasonal variations within the year.
Therefore, in older people, and especially in autumn-winter, if it is not possible to achieve adequate levels of Betaine through diet, nutritional supplements with Betaine should be used.
In the market, for human consumption, there are two presentations:
It is a Betaine bound to hydrochloric acid, in the stomach the acid is separated from Betaine.
This Betaine is indicated in people with gastric problems with hypochlorhydria and poor digestion.
Anhydrous Betaine or TMG:
It is a more appropriate form of supplementation, currently it is used in athletes and people with high levels of homocysteine. It is also the most widely used form of animal feed, especially in birds, pigs and aquaculture.
Is Betaine toxic?
Betaine is a natural component of living beings, as such they have not been
described toxic effects even in doses much higher than those indicated.
In any case, if other medicines are taken, due to the possible effect of methylation overdetermined medicines, consult your doctor about the possible incompatibilities.
How do I know if I have acceptable levels of Betaine?
In the absence of standardized and commonly used tests in serological tests to determine betaine levels, homocysteine levels can be measured and if homocysteine is high in levels, the probability of having low betaine levels is almost complete.
Why are there not so many severe patients in summer and there is less mortality in people infected with Covid-19?
With the arrival of summer, the increase in temperature, the decrease in relative humidity and the increase in daylight hours, the increase in Betaine levels in our body is activated, with one main purpose:
Reduce the risks of dehydration at the cellular level and consequently in the body.
This osmoprotrectora action of the cells, is a priority in the cells of the respiratory epithelium, respiration supposes a high rate of water loss with high temperatures and low environmental relative humidity. Betaine increases the osmotic pressure of cells, preventing excessive loss of moisture in respiration. Betaine increases its concentration in the cells of the respiratory tract to achieve this protection.
Ultimately we enter SUMMER MODE,
Has the Covid-19 virus mutated in the summer?
Coronaviruses are seasonal viruses, not because there are changes in their genome in summer, but because our body increases its levels of Betaine especially in the respiratory epithelium, this increase in Betaine levels decreases the rate of viral replication.
This increase in Betaine influences the pathogenicity of the virus in summer and especially in places with low relative humidity, by reducing the multiplication of the virus by inactivating the processes of RNA replication and assembly of the capsid.
Why are young people and children less susceptible to the virus and practically asymptomatic?
In the growth process, the levels of Betaine and methylation in the organism and cell are high, proportionally with age, the levels of Betaine decrease.
Betaine as a donor of methyl groups, is necessary in these growth phases for its intervention in the DNA replication processes, in the stabilization of the proteins formed and in the formation of the cytoplasmic membrane.
Therefore, Betaine levels are high enough throughout the year to decrease the pathogenicity of this coronavirus. (GROWTH MODE)
Why do obese adults have more serious pathological conditions?
Obese adult males have been found to have lower levels of betaine.
Why is there a higher pathogenicity and mortality rate from Covid-19 in Spain?
Spain is the country in Europe with the highest consumption of stomach protectors, antacids such as omeprazole and the like.
Consumption is common in older people as a stomach protector along with the ingestion of other medications, especially anti-inflammatory drugs.
Omeprazole belongs to the group of so-called proton pump inhibitors. This means that omeprazole inhibits or decreases the production of acid in the stomach. The activity of the intrinsic factor essential for binding to ingested B12 is also decreased, and the intestinal absorption of vitamin B12 is made possible.
If Vitamin B12 is not administered to people who consume stomach protectors for a long time, deficiencies in the vitamin levels appear.
In the methionine cycle (an essential component in protein formation), homocysteine is produced.
This component with toxicity, can be recycled back to methionine by transmethylation or in case of excess methionine, it is recycled to cysteine by transulfurization.
Recycling to methionine occurs through two possible routes:
DEPENDENT ROUTE OF VITAMIN B-12
DEPENDENT ROUTE OF BETAINE
In the case of low levels of vitamin B12, the betaine-dependent pathway is increased, so that the levels of betaine in the body decrease.
Therefore, in older people who take stomach protectors, without taking vitamin b12, to the normal physiological situation of decreasing Betaine levels with age, we add the decrease caused by methylation of homocysteine by the Betaine pathway, with the consequent decrease in cellular protective, antiviral activity of the coronavirus and immunomodulatory of Betaine.