Choline, Betaine and the Metabolic Syndrome

Blood levels of choline and betaine may exert a powerful metabolic effect that influences both weight and body composition. Choline is involved in the synthesis of blood lipids, including cholesterol and triglycerides, and is a precursor of betaine.  Homocysteine is a powerful risk factor for heart disease.  Betaine serves as a methyl donor and helps to convert homocysteine back to methionine, an essential amino acid.

Plasma choline levels are associated with higher triglycerides, higher blood glucose, higher BMI, higher body fat percentage, higher waist circumference and lower HDL cholesterol.  Betaine, on the other hand, is associated with lower triglycerides, lower blood glucose, lower BMI,  lower body fat percentage, lower waist circumference and higher HDL cholesterol.  Researchers theorize that a disruption in the mitochondrial choline dehydrogenase pathway may be preventing choline from conversion to betaine.

Plasma choline and betaine levels are usually lower in women and younger individuals than in men and older people.  If you are supplementing to reduce homocysteine levels, consider supplementing betaine instead of choline.

PMID: 18424601

Leave a Reply