Betaine hydrochloride, or betaine HCL for short, might sound a little intimidating, as if you might need a chemistry degree to understand exactly what it is.
That’s far from the truth.
Betaine hydrochloride, despite its chemical-sounding name, is actually an organic compound found naturally in foods like sugar beets, grains and spinach.
Medical doctors and naturopaths alike have been recommending it for years. In fact, some even refer to it as the most important supplement you should be taking.
But what exactly does it do? Let’s find out.
Uses for Betaine HCL Supplements
As we age, the amount of stomach acid we produce declines. This can lead to conditions such as GERD (acid reflux and indigestion).
Stomach acid also plays a key role in killing much of the harmful bacteria that threaten your intestines.
When you haven’t got enough stomach acid? You guessed it – You’ll have an increased risk of intestinal infections – which can be fatal.
Studies have shown that betaine HCL supplements w0rk to ensure that your body’s stomach acid levels stay where they should, lowering your risk of encountering those conditions or complications.
2. Decreased Fatal Cardiovascular Disease Risk
As reported by the American Heart Association, heart attacks and strokes are commonly caused by a buildup of fatty, cholesterol-rich plaque in the arteries. When this plaque buildup reaches a certain point, the arteries become inflamed. The body then tries to repair that damage by forming a blood clot, which may not dissolve, and blocks the flow of blood. The results are often fatal.
One study looked at the effects of long-term betaine supplement consumption and found something rather interesting – the nutrient greatly lowers one’s risk of death from cardiovascular disease by reducing this initial inflammation.
That’s fantastic news, as heart disease is the leading cause of death around the world.
3. Muscle Growth and Fat Loss
There’s a reason betaine is listed on the label of many workout supplements – It boosts muscle protein synthesis.
Researchers from the University of Connecticut discovered that as little as 1.25 grams of betaine HCL taken twice per day for six weeks helped bodybuilders increase muscle mass by 4 pounds, increase arm size by 10% and decrease body fat by 7%.
This works thanks to a compound called methionine, which gets created as the body processes the betaine.
You don’t have to want to be a bodybuilder to achieve increased muscle mass and decreased fat. Even in a normal lifestyle, both can help reduce the risk of injury and control weight.
Which Supplement Should You Buy?
There are several betaine HCL supplements out there. You want to make sure you’re getting one from a reputable company. Here are a few good options:
- Now Foods
- Country Life (contains pepsin, a digestive enzyme)
- Vital Nutrients (contains pepsin)
Dr. Jonathan Wright says betaine HCL can interact with certain pharmaceuticals, including:
- Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, etc)
As with any supplement, it’s a good idea to discuss betaine HCL with your doctor before taking it – particularly if your intention is to use it to treat a health condition.
Do you take betaine HCL supplements? What have you noticed?