Betaine HCl , or betaine hydrochloride , is a combination of betaine , a particular form of an amino acid called glycine, and hydrochloric acid (HCl) .
In supplement form , betaine HCl provides many benefits for digestion , cardiovascular health , and hepatic (liver) function .
This article aims to help you discover the health benefits of betaine hydrochloride , its main indications and possible side effects .
What is Betaine HCl?
Betaine HCl is a bioactive substance composed of two molecules:
Betaine , also called "N-trimethylglycine" , is a trimethylated form of the amino acid glycine . Its name (betaine) comes from the sugar beet where it was first extracted.
This molecule plays different roles depending on the organism where it is found. It is mainly used to protect plants from cold, heat or water stress, to protect bacteria from osmotic pressure, etc.
In humans, betaine acts as a “methyl donor” . It thus participates in dozens of biochemical reactions, particularly at the digestive , hepatic and cardiovascular levels.
Hydrochloric acid (HCl)
Hydrochloric acid (HCl) is one of the major constituents of “gastric juice” . It is naturally and in large quantities secreted by the parietal cells of the stomach.
Gastric acidity maintained by regular HCl secretion plays a key role in the breakdown and digestion of food , especially protein .
Indeed, a low pH (acid) is essential for an optimal action of pepsin , a proteolytic enzyme of gastric juice whose role is to break certain peptide bonds of the proteins that we ingest in order to facilitate their assimilation at the level of the intestine. .
What are the benefits of betaine HCl?
Here are the top three health benefits of regularly taking betaine HCl:
Betaine hydrochloride is indicated in the treatment of digestive disorders such as bloating , gas , belching , gastric reflux and heaviness , particularly after taking a large meal.
The betaine HCl dietary supplement works in several ways to improve digestion.
First, betaine promotes the synthesis of phospholipids involved in peristalsis (digestive motility). In other words, it increases the muscle contractions that ensure the progression of the food bolus along the digestive tract. Thus, digestion is done more efficiently and more comfortably.
Secondly, the hydrochloric acid provided by the betaine HCl supplement maintains an acid gastric pH which promotes the breakdown of ingested food into nutrients that are more easily assimilated at the intestinal level.
Indeed, some people have a reduced gastric production of hydrochloric acid (hypochlorhydria), which results in less efficient and slower digestion as well as the appearance of many symptoms:
- Feeling of fullness after meals;
- Bloating and flatulence;
- Acid reflux;
- Stomach pains.
Taking betaine HCl is therefore particularly recommended for this category of people, as it helps to further acidify their gastric juice and solve many of their digestive problems.
In addition, the increase in gastric acidity favored by betaine HCl makes it possible to activate certain proteolytic enzymes present in the stomach called “pepsins” . The latter are indeed in an inactive form (pepsinogen) and require an acid pH to be activated and play their role in the degradation of food in an optimal way.
In summary, taking betaine HCl improves digestion thanks to the following three properties:
- Increased digestive motility.
- Increased acidity of gastric juice.
- Activation of certain digestive enzymes.
Preservation of cardiovascular health
At the body level, the metabolism of an essential amino acid called “methionine” causes the release of homocysteine , another amino acid.
With age, the body's ability to eliminate homocysteine decreases. This then results in “ moderate hyperhomocysteinemia ” (increased homocysteine levels in the blood) which, according to scientific studies, is harmful to the health of the heart and blood vessels .
This hyperhomocysteinemia would, in fact, be responsible for an increase in cardiovascular risk by promoting the development of atherosclerosis (deposit of fat in the walls of the arteries).
Betaine is able to lower the level of homocysteine in the blood. Taken in sufficient quantity daily, it could therefore contribute to the prevention of cardiovascular diseases .
NB: according to the European health authorities , betaine- based food supplements can claim to reduce the blood level of homocysteine if they contain at least 500 mg of betaine per portion (capsule, capsule, tablet, etc.) and that the daily intake is greater than or equal to 1.5 g .
Many betaine-based dietary supplements available on the market do not meet these criteria…
Regarding our betaine HCl food supplement , each capsule contains 700 mg of betaine and the recommended dosage and one capsule before each meal , as recommended by European health authorities.
Liver function support
Betaine stimulates the liver and promotes the release of bile (a liquid secreted by the liver that plays a key role in digestion, especially that of fats).
It also participates in the elimination of toxic waste from the body via the liver and prevents the accumulation of fat in the liver.
What are the side effects of betaine HCl?
Betaine HCl may cause certain side effects or worsen pre-existing symptoms such as nausea , diarrhea , or stomach upset .
Stomach pain may indicate the presence of gastritis (inflammation of the stomach) or a peptic ulcer that has awakened or been made worse by the acidity of betaine HCl . It is therefore recommended to stop taking the latter in case of abdominal pain and to consult a therapist.
Betaine can also, very rarely, cause a mild allergic reaction with the appearance of a rash, itching or stinging of the eyes. In this case, stop your supplementation and talk to your therapist.
Furthermore, due to metabolic changes, a temporary increase in cholesterol may be observed.
What are the contraindications of betaine HCl?
Betaine HCl should not be used in the following situations:
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding period (ask your therapist for advice);
- Known allergy to betaine;
- Peptic ulcer disease (current or past);
- Gastritis (inflammation of the gastric mucosa);
Betaine HCl or betaine hydrochloride is a dietary supplement of natural origin that offers many benefits, especially on digestion , cardiovascular health and liver function.
It may in particular:
- Improve digestive comfort
- Fight bloating
- Reduce blood levels of homocysteine
- Decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Stimulate the liver and promote the elimination of toxins accumulated in the body