TMG (Trimethylglycine)

TMG (Trimethylglycine): Overview

Alternative names: Anhydrous Betaine or simply Betaine.

An extract from sugar beets, TMG is a natural polysaccharide and a good source of methyl groups that promotes healthier levels of the powerful pro-oxidant and free radical generator homocysteine.  Homocysteine is a toxic end product of the metabolism (methylation) of methionine (an essential amino acid) and is now known to be a leading cause of heart and artery disease.

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TMG is a byproduct of sugar beet processing and is a known methyl donor.  Through methyl transfers, betaine is derived from choline and subsequent reactions convert betaine to dimethylglycine.  Betaine may influence neurological function indirectly via 5-adenosylmethionine synthesis.  Animal studies have demonstrated that supplementary intake of betaine had a 2- to 5-fold increase in SAM concentrations.  Hyland et al reported increased SAM concentrations to near normal in a patient suffering from 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (an enzyme involved in the regeneration of methionine) deficiency where initial SAM concentration were undetectable.

Methylation reactions and how they relate to the prevention of many diseases such as cancer, heart disease, liver disease and neurological disorders are a growing area of interest for researchers.


TMG is in available in powdered form, and is found in many over-the-counter preparations in health food stores.

NOTE: An inexpensive variety is Betaine HCL which acts as a stomach acidifier and is not practical due to stomach irritation at the doses required to enhance methylation metabolism.

Function; Why it is Recommended

In the liver, TMG transfers one of its three methyl groups to homocysteine, which is then converted into the useful amino acid methionine.

When methylation is working properly, homocysteine is quickly converted back to methionine which is then converted to SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine), which protects the liver and is a natural antidepressant. [2][3] SAMe then acts as a methyl donor for DNA: when attached to DNA, methyl groups appear protective, preventing mutated genes from expressing themselves. [4] It may improve health, reduce the risk of genetically induced cancers, and slow cellular aging.  Factors that decrease methylation include smoking, alcohol consumption, high fat diets and birth control pills.

Multiple studies have demonstrated that medium to high levels of plasma homocysteine are associated with increased risk of heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and peripheral artery disease.  In one study, daily treatment with TMG, folic acid and choline normalized homocysteine levels in 17 of 19 patients. [1] TMG lowers homocysteine levels with and without vitamins B12, B6 and folic acid.

Along with cofactors such as vitamins B6, B12 and Folic Acid, TMG is part of a chemical contingent in the body that works against cancer, heart and neurological diseases, and nearly every age-related disorder.

TMG is a versatile nutrient and provides an intermediary metabolite that can enable a person or animal to function at more optimum mental and physical levels.  It aids the body in overcoming a number of adverse health conditions, and is an intricate part of human metabolism.  DMG (TMG's metabolite) has been used as a nutritional supplement for over 25 years.  In a broad sense, TMG protects the body from many forms of physical, metabolic and environmental stress.

Applications include:

  • Immune modulation: Improves antibody response, enhances B- and T-cell function, and regulates cytokines.
  • Viral/bacterial infections: Enhances immune response.
  • Cardiovascular: Reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels, helps eliminate hypoxia, improves coronary circulation, decreases angina pain.
  • Athletic performance: Enhances endurance, improves oxygen utilization, reduces lactic acid buildup, improves muscle recovery.
  • Autism/epilepsy: Improves verbal communication/social interaction/lethargy, may reduce seizures.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome: Greater mental alertness and energy, improves immune dysfunction.
  • Melanoma: Anti-tumor activity, prevents metastasis.
  • Lupus (SLE): Reduces antinuclear antibodies, modulates cytokine production.
  • Contributes to DNA stability: As a methyl donor supplement, it helps protect cellular DNA from mutation.
  • Liver detoxification
  • Brain neurotransmitter production
  • Lowering homocysteine levels naturally: Thereby lowers risk of heart and vascular disease.

TMG supplementation may sometimes produce hyperactivity in autistic children.  Folic acid appears to help neutralize this effect at one or two 800mcg tablets. [Autism Res Rev Int 10( 3): 7, 1996]


The usual TMG dose is 500 to 1,000mg per day – roughly equivalent to what a diet high in broccoli, spinach or beets would provide.

References & Further Information

(1) Dudman, N.P., et al.  "Disordered methionine/homocysteine metabolism in premature vascular disease.  Its occurrence, cofactor therapy and enzymology," Arteriosclerosis and Thrombosis 13(9): 1253-60, 1993
(2) Dudman, N. "Disordered methionine/homocysteine metabolism in premature vascular disease," Arteriosclerosis and Thrombosis 13(9): 1253-60, 1993
(3) Kishi, T. "Effect of betaine on s-adenosylmethionine levels in the cerebrospinal fluid in a patient with methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase deficiency and peripheral neuropathy" J Inherited Metabolic Disease 17(5): 560-5, 1994
(4) Cooney, C. "Are somatic cells inherently deficient in methylation metabolism?"  Growth, Development & Aging 57(4): 261-73, 1993

On This Page

TMG (Trimethylglycine):

TMG (Trimethylglycine) can help with the following:


Addictions / Addictive Tendencies

TMG or SAMe may be especially useful in treating depression associated with drug withdrawal.


Parkinson's Disease

The compound 5-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), potentially produced through the demethylation of TMG, has been shown to improve Parkinson's disease.




A four-year clinical evaluation of DMG (or TMG) by Mitchell Pries, MD of Palmdale, California has confirmed Soviet findings.  In trials involving the administration of DMG at 125mg bid to over 400 cardiovascular patients, Dr. Pries reported major improvements in several areas including arrhythmias.  This dose is low, and a more rapid response may be possible at higher doses.


Environment / Toxicity


Low Adrenal Function / Adrenal Insufficiency

The adrenal gland uses nutrients such as TMG (betaine), tyrosine, vitamins B5, B6 and C to maintain function and produce its hormones.


Progesterone Low or Estrogen Dominance

TMG converts to S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe, an activated form of methionine) in the body.  SAMe assists in the breakdown of estrogens.



Lab Values



The compound 5-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), potentially produced through the demethylation of TMG, has been shown to alleviate depression.


Gilbert's Syndrome

Methionine, administered as SAM, resulted in a significant decreases in serum bilirubin in patients with Gilbert's syndrome in a recent clinical study.  SAM has been used with favorable results in a variety of other chronic liver diseases.  TMG also converts to SAMe while being considerably less expensive.



TMG, administered as S-adenosyl-methionine (SAMe), was shown to be superior to ibuprofen (Motrin) in the treatment of osteoarthritis in a double-blind clinical trial.  The positive effect in this trial is consistent with several other clinical studies.

Neck / Spine

Nervous System

Seizure Disorder

TMG has been noted to reduce seizure activity in some individuals.

Organ Health


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TMG (Trimethylglycine) can help prevent the following:

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