Betaine supplementation lowers plasma homocysteine levels in healthy men and women

G.R.S. Steenge, P. Verhoef, M.B. Katan

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111 Citations (Scopus)


Elevated levels of plasma total homocysteine are associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Betaine and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate can remethylate homocysteine into methionine via independent reactions. We determined the effect of daily betaine supplementation, compared with both folic acid and placebo, on plasma concentrations of total homocysteine after an overnight fast and after methionine loading in men and women with mildly elevated homocysteine. Groups of twelve subjects ingested 6 g betaine, 800 jig folic acid with 6 g placebo or 6 g placebo each day for 6 wk. A methionine-loading test (i.e., ingestion Of 100 mg L-methionine/kg body mass) was performed before and after 6 wk of supplementation. Fasting plasma homocysteine decreased by 1.8 mumol/L (95% confidence interval [CI]: -3.6, 0.0, P <0.05) in the betaine group and by 2.7 mumol/L (95% CI: -4.5, -0.9, P <0.05) in the folic acid group. These changes are relative to the change in the placebo group, in which fasting plasma homocysteine rose by 0.5 mumol/L. Furthermore, betaine suppressed the total area under the plasma homocysteine-time curve after methionine loading by 221 mumol - 24 h/L (95% CI: -425, -16, P <0.05) compared with placebo, whereas folic acid had no effect. In conclusion, betaine appears to be highly effective in preventing a rise in plasma homocysteine concentration after methionine intake in subjects with mildly elevated homocysteine. It is not known whether this potential of betaine to "stabilize" circulating homocysteine concentrations lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. J. Nutr. 133: 1291-1295, 2003.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1291-1295
JournalThe Journal of Nutrition
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2003


  • dose folic-acid
  • cardiovascular-disease
  • methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase
  • vascular-disease
  • risk factor
  • dietary betaine
  • methionine
  • methyltransferase
  • metabolism
  • pyridoxine

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