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Trimethylglycine (TMG)

Also known as betaine, trimethylglycine (TMG) is considered to be an excellent resource of methyl groups - molecules that comprise of one carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms. Trimethylglycine is present aplenty in both plants and animals. It is particularly found in vegetables like beets, spinach, and broccoli. The presence of trimethylglycine in the body initiates a process known as methylation whereby the methyl groups neutralize detrimental materials in the system and translate them into supportive substances in our system.

For instance, homocysteine, an amino acid found in the body, is a prospective destructive substance and is restricted or deactivated by the methyl groups. It is an accepted fact that the presence of higher levels of homocysteine in the system is a hazard as it's capable of giving rise to several heart diseases. Several researches have confirmed that people possessing very high levels of homocysteine in their systems are 3 times more susceptible to heart attacks than people having lower levels of this harmful material in their body. In addition, several studies have found that high levels of homocysteine are also often responsible for birth defects, depressions, particular forms of cancer, and even Alzheimer's disease.

It is now an established fact that presence of high levels of homocysteine in the body is a health hazard for everyone. However, the good news is that it is comparatively easier for a person to reduce the homocysteine levels in his or her system by ingestion of methyl-rich trimethylglycine or TMG. It may be noted here that the risk of high levels of homocysteine are deactivated as the presence of methyl groups in trimethylgycine (TMG) transforms homocysteine into methionine - an amino acid that is advantageous for the body. Presence of high levels of homocysteine in the body can also be reduced by taking a healthy diet comprising plenty of fruits and vegetables and by staying away from all kinds of processed foods. Contrarily, regular smoking, ingestion of heavy amounts of saturated fats as well as taking birth control pills can increase the levels of homocysteine in the body.

Uses

Several studies have proved beyond doubt that trimethylglycine (TMG) significantly helps in lowering the levels of homocysteine in the body, developing one's health and also aids in recuperating from the uncommon diseases called cystathionine beta-synthase deficiency and conditions related to the ailment. Among people without any genetic deficiency, trimethylgycine (TMG) also helps in comparatively reducing moderate homocysteine increases. On the other hand, trimethylglycine is known to have adverse effects on the cholesterol profile thereby often neutralizing the benefits derived from its use. Hence, it is advisable that if one is suffering from high levels of homocysteine in the body, it would be better to ingest supplemental folate (vitamin B9), vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 rather than straight away using trimethylglycine (TMG). This is primarily owing to the fact that the supplements mentioned above are also known to be effectual in lowering homocysteine levels significantly, but unlike trimethylglycine (TMG), they also offer nutritional advantages to the body.

Other medicinal uses of trimethylglycine (TMG) include protecting the liver from the adverse consequences of alcohol over use. According to scientists, this is probably done by stimulating the manufacture of S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe). Moreover, trimethylglycine is also beneficial for non-alcoholic varieties of fatty liver such as non-alcoholic steatosis. Many researchers as well as herbal practitioners have recommended the use of trimethylglycine as it is an inexpensive replacement of SAMe for conditions like osteoarthritis and depression. Despite such recommendations, there is no substantial proof that trimethylglycine is effectual in these conditions.

Over the years, many Russian as well as American athletes have often used a substance known as pangamic acid or vitamin B15 with a view to improve their performances. Incidentally, the substance was first used by the Russians and later became popular among the Americans. Despite such widespread use of pangamic acid or vitamin B15, there is little evidence regarding the existence of any such stimulating substance or substances that have labeled by this name from time to time. In recent times, this term has been linked with an amalgam of calcium gluconate and DMG. However, a recent research conducted on the substance in a very small way failed to discover any form of pangamic acid which is claimed to be effectual in improving performances of athletes.

Normally, trimethylglycine or betaine performs intimately with substances like vitamin B12, folic acid as well as a type of the amino acid methionine called S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe). Incidentally, each of these amalgams work as ‘methyl donors' and these carry as well as contribute methyl molecules to smoothen the progress of essential chemical procedure. The contributing function of methyl groups by betaine or trimethylglycine (TMG) is very crucial for the appropriate functioning of the liver, cellular reproduction and the detoxification reactions in the body. Significantly, betaine also plays a crucial role in producing carnitine and functions in safeguarding the kidneys from damage. In addition, betaine is directly associated with choline. However, there are differences between betaine and choline. While betaine comprises three hydrogen atoms and one carbon atom, choline or tetramethylglycine comprises four methyl groups appended to it. Choline transforms into betaine or trimethylglycine when it donates one of these groups to another molecule. On the other hand, when betaine contributes one its methyl groups to another molecule, it changes to dimethylglycine.

Several researches have found that betaine or trimethylglycine also has a crucial role in lowering the blood levels of homocysteine - a venomous substance produced by breaking down amino acid metabolism. The high blood levels in homocysteine are reported to give rise to atherosclerosis and osteoporosis among people. According to studies, the main nutrients engaged in restricting homocysteine levels in blood are vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folic acid. In addition, it has been found that betaine is also beneficial for people whose increased homocysteine levels in the blood could not be lowered despite using the other nutrients. The remedial effects of betaine also include aiding the cure of some specific and uncommon genetic ailments including cysteine metabolism. It may be mentioned here that under normal circumstances or when used with other methyl donating supplements, betaine is unlikely to have any effect in lowering the homocysteine levels in the blood. Basically, bentaine's foremost utility is ingesting it as a dietary add-on to support the appropriate functioning of the liver.

It would be interesting to note that betaine or trimethylglycine (TMG) is also known as a ‘lipotropic factor' primarily owing to its aptitude in aiding the liver to process the fats (lipids) accumulated there. Studies conducted on animals have shown that supplementing their diet with betaine has helped in protecting their livers against chemical harm. Significantly, amassing of fats in the liver is the initial stage of the liver damage owing to excessive alcohol consumption or alcohol-stimulated liver disorder. Owing to its lipotropic consequences, to a large extent, betaine has proved to be beneficial in removing the accumulated fats in the liver and healing the disorder. This has been true even on clinical studies conducted on humans.

In fact, betaine has been used in clinical studies on humans suffering from alcohol-related liver disorders in France, Italy as well as Germany. Significantly, the studies have found considerable success using betaine as a remedy. However, the allure of betaine for treating alcohol-induced liver disorders is fast fading to the increasing use of SAMe - a type of the amino acid methionine supplements - as well as milk thistle derivatives. However, the good news is that scientists as well as natural medicine practitioners have recently recommended the use of betaine for treating patients in the initial stages of fatty liver syndrome owing to excessive alcohol consumption.

Incidentally, according to recent researches, betaine is also showing signs of becoming an essential constituent of tooth pastes. Increased use of betaine in tooth paste is following the revelation by some studies that it is effectual in alleviating problems arising out of dry mouth.

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