What Is Betaine? Benefits, Signs of Deficiency and Food Sources

Benefits of betaine hcl

Betaine (BET) is an amino acid that has been shown to have potential benefits for fighting heart disease, improving body composition, and helping promote muscle gain and fat loss. This is thought mostly to be due to its ability to promote protein synthesis in the body.

Never heard of betaine before? Also known as trimethylglycine, it is becoming more popular in supplements recently but is actually not a newly discovered nutrient.

While it’s been studied for its positive impacts on preventing heart disease for quite some time, only recently has betaine been included more often in exercise-focused and energy supplements, protein powders and other products geared at improving exercise performance and body composition.

What Is Betaine?

Betaine is a trimethylglycine and derivative of the nutrient choline. In other words, choline is a “precursor” to betaine and must be present for betaine to be synthesized in the body.

It’s created by choline in combination with the amino acid glycine.

Just like some B vitamins, including folate and vitamin B12, betaine is considered to be a “methyl donor.” This means it aids in liver function, detoxification and cellular functioning within the body.

Its most crucial role is to help the body process fats.

What is betaine used for in supplement form? Probably the most extensively researched benefit of betaine is supporting conversion of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood to methionine.

Although amino acids are critical compounds needed for many body functions, studies show that high levels of homocysteine can be harmful to blood vessels, potentially leading to the development of plaque buildup and the condition called atherosclerosis (clogged arteries).

Health Benefits

1. Supports Heart Health 

Betaine is best known for helping reduce plasma homocysteine levels, which is directly related to lowering the risk for heart disease. A high homocysteine concentration is a potential risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but studies suggest that this condition can be reduced through regular betaine supplementation.

High plasma levels of homocysteine greater than 15 μmol/L are present in an estimated 5 percent of the adult population and in as many as 50 percent of those with cardiovascular disease and stroke.

According to a 2013 study, “supplementation with at least 4 grams/day of betaine for a minimum of 6 weeks can lower plasma homocysteine.”

By helping fight hardening and blocking of arteries due to elevated homocysteine, betaine may be beneficial in reducing the risk for heart attacks, stroke, and other forms of cardiac arrest and heart disease.

2. Has Anti-Inflammatory Effects

New research indicates that betaine has anti-inflammatory functions, offering protection against numerous diseases — including obesity, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Its protective effects are in part due to its role in sulfur amino acid metabolism, which defends against oxidative stress, inhibits inflammatory responses, regulates energy metabolism and mitigates apoptosis.

3. May Help Improve Muscle Mass 

Though research from clinical trials is mixed and somewhat limited in humans, ongoing betaine supplementation has been shown to reduce fat (adipose) mass and increase muscle mass in animal studies and selective human studies.

To date, several studies have been done to research whether betaine benefits exist for building strength and muscle mass. Different studies have showed varying results.

A 2010 study reported increased muscle power output and muscle force production after betaine supplementation. Another 2009 study found that two weeks of betaine supplementation in active college males appeared to improve muscle endurance during squat exercises and increased the quality of repetitions that could be performed.

A 2013 study revealed that six weeks of betaine supplementation improved body composition, arm size and bench press work capacity; attenuated the rise in urinary homocysteine thiolactone; and tended to improve power but not strength.

To draw a conclusion, in 2013, a study was done by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Participants were tested to see whether six weeks of betaine supplementation would have impacts on body composition, strength, endurance and fat loss.

After six weeks of betaine supplementation, participants showed improved body composition, gains in the size of arm muscles, and higher capacity to do bench press weightlifting and squat exercises.

On the other hand, a 2017 systematic review found that among seven studies, only two reported increases in strength or power after supplementation with BET. The remaining five studies showed no change in any strength or power outcome measures with supplementation.

4. May Help with Fat Loss 

According to certain studies, betaine supplementation may be beneficial in altering how the body processes and partitions nutrients, resulting in quicker fat burning abilities and fat loss, without breaking down muscle tissue or losing muscle mass.

A 2018 double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial found evidence that betaine supplementation may enhance reductions in fat mass among female college athletes.  The study found that 2.5 grams of supplementary betaine per day with nine weeks exercise training in 11 young women decreased body fat more than a placebo.

A separate 2019 systematic review that included six studies with 195 participants concluded that:

The review also pointed out that favorable effects of betaine on reducing body fat have been shown in studies using animals, such as rodents, pigs and fowls.

5. Helps with Liver Function and Detoxification 

Another positive effect of betaine seems to be supporting liver health by assisting in detoxification and the process of the liver digesting fats (lipids).

Fat can accumulate to dangerous levels in the liver from certain conditions — such as alcohol abuse, obesity, diabetes and other causes — but betaine is able to assist in liver-cleansing functions of breaking down and removing fats.

Betaine also seems to help the liver to dispose of toxins and chemicals, preventing against damage to the digestive tract and other bodily damage that can result from toxin exposure.

It has also been found to protect the liver against hepatotoxins, such as ethanol and carbon tetrachloride, which are toxic chemical substances that can enter the body through some medications, drugs and pesticides.

6. Can Aid in Digestion 

Betaine is sometimes used to create betaine hydrochloride (HCl) supplements. Betaine HCI is thought to increase the concentration of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which is the acid that must be present in order to break down foods and use nutrients.

In certain groups of people who have low stomach acid, they can experience a range of digestive problems that betaine may be able to help relieve.

Certain people find it beneficial to take betaine HCl extract prior to meals to help enable the stomach to dissolve and process foods. Positive results have been found in people who suffer from indigestion due to medications or other digestive problems.

Taking betaine HCl before meals may be able to help promote a healthy digestive response and gut health. This is also important because the immune system heavily relies on the health of the gut flora to boost immunity.

7. Helps Relieve Aches and Pains 

Studies have shown that betaine may positively benefit those with muscle aches and pains. In one study conducted on horses, levels of lactate acid (associated with muscular fatigue) were lower after exercise when horses received betaine supplementation.

This may be beneficial for people when performing rigorous exercise or for those who suffer from painful symptoms related to muscle and joint tissue damage.

8. Helps Repair Bodily Damage from Alcoholism 

Betaine is used to treat alcoholic liver damage that results in the accumulation of fat in the liver. It has lipotropic (fat-reducing) effects, so it has been shown to produce significant improvements in treating fatty liver disease by helping the liver process and remove fats.

9. Can Support Skin Health

What is betaine in skin care products beneficial for? It’s thought to have certain anti-aging effects, such as helping prevent wrinkles.

It can also keep skin moisturized by acting as a natural hydrator due to the way it keeps moisture locked into the skin. This means it helps protect skin’s texture, while potentially soothing irritated and dry skin.

Signs of Deficiency

A betaine deficiency is not thought to be common in Western nations, mostly because dietary intake is adequate. One reason is because betaine is present in high amounts in wheat products, which are a staple in most people’s diets.

What happens when you skip out on betaine-rich foods? Although it’s not directly due to low betaine intake, low dietary intake may contribute to high homocysteine in the blood.

High homocysteine levels in the blood may be elevated for many reasons, including environmental factors, diet and genetics.

The biggest threat to consuming low betaine levels is experiencing symptoms related to high homocysteine in the blood. This is seen most often in either older populations above 50, those who have suffered from alcoholism or in children who have genetic conditions that lead to high homocysteine.

Although this condition is rare, severely elevated levels of homocysteine can cause developmental issues, osteoporosis (thin bones), visual abnormalities, formation of blood clots, and narrowing and hardening of blood vessels.

Top Food Sources

Which foods contain betaine? Here are 12 of the best food sources of betaine:

  1. Wheat Bran — 1/4 cup uncooked (about 15 grams): 200 mg
  2. Quinoa — About 1 cup cooked or 1/4 cup uncooked: 178 mg
  3. Beets — 1 cup raw: 175 mg
  4. Spinach — 1 cup cooked: 160 mg
  5. Amaranth Grain — About 1 cup cooked or 1/2 cup uncooked : 130 mg
  6. Rye Grain — About 1 cup cooked or 1/2 cup uncooked: 123 mg
  7. Kamut Wheat Grain — About 1 cup cooked or 1/2 cup uncooked: 105 mg
  8. Bulgar Grain — About 1 cup cooked or 1/2 cup uncooked: 76 mg
  9. Sweet Potato — 1 medium potato: 39 mg
  10. Turkey Breast — 1 breast cooked: 30 mg
  11. Veal — 3 ounces: 29 mg
  12. Beef — 3 ounces cooked: 28 mg

Read more  Types of Berries – Healthy and Popular Choices

— Update: 31-12-2022 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Betaine HCl: How To Take This Digestive Aid for Low Stomach Acid from the website drruscio.com for the keyword benefits of betaine hcl.

Don’t Make This Common Mistake When Taking Betaine HCl

  • What is Betaine HCl|
  • Low Stomach Acid|
  • SIBO|
  • Risk Factors|
  • Diagnosis|
  • Using Betaine HCl|
  • Better Digestive Health|
  • Recommended Products|

New research suggests that low stomach acid may play a role in the development of SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). Low stomach acid can also lead to nutritional deficiencies and may put you at greater risk for food poisoning and other gut infections.

Hypochlorhydria, or low stomach acid, is often found in those who are older, have autoimmune disease, or take proton pump inhibitor medication.

The good news is that it’s easy to correct your stomach acidity with betaine HCl, an over-the-counter digestive support.

Benefits of betaine hcl

What Is Betaine HCl?

Betaine is a nutritional compound extracted from food sources like grains or beets. Betaine HCl is an acidic version of betaine that works in the same way as hydrochloric acid (HCl) in your stomach.

As a dietary supplement, betaine HCl is sometime combined with digestive enzymes such as pepsin or protease to help with protein digestion.

Benefits of betaine hcl

Why Low Stomach Acid Is a Problem

A healthy stomach produces about 3 to 4 quarts of gastric juice per day [1]. Made up of mostly hydrochloric acid, gastric juice breaks down the food you eat before it enters the small intestine.

Most of what we know about low stomach acid comes from clinical studies involving drugs that reduce stomach acid. Research into these drugs provides insights into the risks of hypochlorhydria [2, 3, 4] and suggests that, over the long term, inadequate stomach acid can:

  • Increase the risk for gut infections like SIBO [5, 6, 7, 8]
  • Impair nutrient absorption (calcium, magnesium, iron, B12) and potentially lead to conditions like osteoporosis and anemia [9]
  • Impair digestive function in the esophagus and small intestine [10]

Low Stomach Acid and SIBO

New research by Dr. Richard McCallum adds a new twist to existing research that associates low stomach acid and SIBO.

Dr. McCallum obtained samples of bacteria from the jejunum (middle of the small intestine) of patients with SIBO [11]. Using DNA testing, he found that bacteria in the jejunum of SIBO patients is similar to oral bacteria and not similar to bacteria in the large intestine. This finding counters the common belief that SIBO is caused by bacteria flowing upward from the colon into the small intestine.

Dr. McCallum suggests that stomach acid plays an important role in killing bacteria before it enters the small intestine. This function may be impaired in SIBO patients.

Who Is at Risk for Low Stomach Acid?

Benefits of betaine hcl

Only 2% of the population in the United State is documented as having low stomach acid [12]. However, testing for hypochlorhydria is not common, and inferential data suggests the actual numbers are likely much higher.

These health conditions increase the likelihood you have low stomach acid:

  • Autoimmune conditions
  • H. pylori infection
  • Anemia [13] or pernicious anemia
  • Being over the age of 65 [14]
  • Chronic use of antacids or proton pump inhibitors
Benefits of betaine hcl

What’s the connection between autoimmune disease and stomach acid? Up to 50% of autoimmune patients also launch autoimmune attacks against the parietal cells in their stomach lining. This leads to inflammation of the cells responsible for acid secretion in a condition known as atrophic gastritis. Over time, this medical condition can impair your stomach’s ability to release digestive acids [15].

These autoimmune conditions have been associated with autoimmune gastritis and low stomach acid: [16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24]:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Autoimmune thyroid disease [25]
  • Sjögren’s syndrome

Treating H. pylori infections may help with stomach acidity. One clinical trial showed that eradicating an H. pylori infection can normalize the antibodies associated with stomach autoimmunity. However, not all studies agree [26]. Two studies have shown that vitamin B12 injections can help to reduce stomach autoimmunity [27].

Another factor that can lead to low stomach acid is overuse of Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). PPIs are among the most commonly used drugs in the world. About 15 million people in the United States use PPIs every year [28]. While short-term use of acid-lowering medications (PPIs) can be very helpful in the treatment of peptic ulcers, long-term use carries all of the risks of hypochlorhydria including bacterial and fungal overgrowths.

How Do You Know If You Have Low Stomach Acid?

Low stomach acid doesn’t always result in digestive symptoms. However, some people with hypochlorhydria will experience symptoms like burping, bloating, feeling excessively full after eating, reflux, heartburn, and indigestion.

What’s confusing is that these symptoms may also be a sign of too much stomach acid. It’s common for people to try to treat digestive symptoms like heartburn and indigestion with over-the-counter antacids. This can be harmful if your symptoms are actually caused by low stomach acid.

Testing for low stomach acid isn’t very common right now. However, if you are over the age of 65, have an autoimmune condition, or have one of the other risk factors for low stomach acid, you can try taking betaine HCl and monitor your response.

Testing for Hypochlorhydria

There are tests available for hypochlorhydria. However, they are not commonly used and may not be completely reliable.

A serum gastrin test can be used if you’re not taking PPI medication. According to some practitioners, a test result higher than 75 pg/mL could indicate that you would benefit from supplementing with betaine HCl. However, one study found no correlation between serum gastrin levels and gastric pH [29].

An endoscopy can show if you have atrophic gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining). You can also ask for antibody tests if you suspect stomach autoimmunity. These tests are for antiparietal cell antibodies and intrinsic factor antibodies.

Using Betaine Hydrochloride

Benefits of betaine hcl

While there hasn’t been a lot of research into the use of betaine HCl, two studies show that this supplement is effective for increasing stomach acid, acts quickly, and has a short-term effect of just over an hour [30, 31].

Unlike probiotics, which can be taken at any time, the timing of your digestive acid supplement is very important. Because of its fast acting and short term effects, betaine HCl should be taken with your meal

There’s no established daily value for an HCl supplement, and I recommend being conservative about dosing. A trial period of 1 to 2 weeks will help you to determine if betaine HCl is helpful for you.

Take 1 to 3 capsules with each meal.

  • If you feel burning or have any other side effects, stop taking the supplement.
  • If you notice any improvements in your symptoms, continue to take betaine HCl.
  • If there is no improvement in your symptoms after two weeks, stop taking the supplement.

Avoid using betaine HCl if you have peptic ulcers.

Never Do This With Betaine HCl

There’s a common recommendation for establishing the dosage of digestive acids that I do not recommend. This misguided approach suggests that you increase your dose until you feel a burning sensation and then decrease your dose slightly. For example, if you felt a burning sensation in your stomach after taking eight pills, your ideal dose is seven pills.

But if you feel burning in your stomach, you may be damaging your stomach lining.

This approach can lead to taking very high doses of betaine HCl. I’ve seen patients who had been taking as many as 15 capsules of digestive acid per meal. If you have a healthy stomach lining, you may never feel burning. A very high intake of stomach acid supplements may lead to an increased risk of peptic ulcers.

When to See a Healthcare Professional

It’s not unusual for a patient with a thyroid autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s to also have low stomach acid and SIBO. This is a complex medical condition, and patients can benefit from seeking the advice of a functional health care professional.

Better Digestive Health and Wellness

Low stomach acid production can make it difficult to absorb nutrients from your food and may pave the way for bacterial and fungal overgrowths in your intestinal tract.

Fortunately, taking Betaine HCl, a supplementary form of digestive acid, can be very helpful for this condition. When taken with a meal, Betaine HCl gives your stomach acid levels a boost and helps you more effectively break down food and absorb nutrients.

By restoring stomach acidity levels, Betaine HCl can also help to destroy harmful bacteria in your stomach before they enter your digestive tract. For people with low stomach acid, Betaine HCl should be part of an overall approach to managing and preventing SIBO and other types of gut dysbiosis that can rob you of your good health.

For help with improving your digestive health, schedule an appointment with the Ruscio Institute for Functional Medicine.

Get Help
Tagged: Betaine HCl Hypochlorhydria Low Stomach Acid SIBO

— Update: 31-12-2022 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article What Is Betaine: 11 Amazing Health Benefits of Betaine HCl from the website www.findatopdoc.com for the keyword benefits of betaine hcl.

What is betaine?

Betaine is also called as trimethylglycine or betaine anhydrous. Choline and glycine betaine are the two different forms of betaine. Betaine produces carnitine, which promotes liver function and cellular reproduction as well as metabolism of the amino acid homocysteine. Because of betaine’s effectiveness, the FDA has approved betaine supplements for the treatment of high homocysteine levels.

Betaine was first found in beets. Betaine got its name after being discovered in beets. It is usually an active component in a variety of products with betaine HCl as the most popular. It contains a vitamin, betaine, hydrochloric acid, and may also include pepsin.

Betaine chemically consists of amino acid glycine, which has three methyl groups attached to it. In the body, betaine can be naturally produced from choline and in certain foods such as quinoa and beets. Many biochemical processes depend on methylation, and betaine is found to function as a methyl donor. One example is the homocysteine amino acid to which a methyl group is added from betaine to form methionine. In this way, betaine reduces homocysteine concentrations and increases the growth of muscle by its protein synthesis. 

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Betaine is a nonessential nutrient. It is obtained from various plant sources such as whole wheat, beets, broccoli, and spinach. It is also manufactured by the body, and its main role is to function as a methyl group, which is optimal for cellular replication, detoxification, and liver function. Betaine has also shown potential when it comes to fighting heart diseases, promoting muscle gain, losing fat, and helping in muscle protein synthesis. It has been studied for its effect on preventing heart diseases, but recently, it has been used in products, especially in energy supplements such as protein powder, which that can enhance the performance and composition of the body.

Betaine HCl

Betaine HCl is a form of chloride-salt supplement that serves as a digestive aid. It helps in the absorption of vitamin B12, iron, calcium, and proteins. It prevents bacteria and fungi from flourishing in the gut and also protects the stomach from pathogens that are orally ingested.

Betaine HCl is a crystalline alcohol, which is derived from beets. It is generally used to increase the acid content in the stomach. In health stores, it is available in the form of a pill. However, evidence about its use to treat hypochlorhydria is still lacking. Still, the use of betaine for other health conditions is believed by many health professionals.

It is an organic compound. People suffering from stomach disorders or a lack of stomach acid production may benefit from betaine HCl. People with a lack of stomach acid are more prone to bacterial and intestinal infections, wherein the presence of bad microorganisms also increases. Betaine HCl helps in the breakdown of fat and protein, and thus, helps in the detoxification process. It also helps the food to get absorbed and helps in the assimilation of calcium, iron, proteins and vitamin B12.


Betaine HCl in the digestive tract enters into the enterocytes. Betaine here is extracted and metabolized in the liver as these enterocytes circulate through the liver. Inside the alkaline environment of the small intestine, betaine HCl is converted into betaine.

The best sources of betaine are:

  • Wheat bran
  • Beets
  • Quinoa
  • Spinach
  • Rye grain
  • Amaranth grain
  • Kamut wheat grain
  • Sweet potato
  • Veal
  • Beef
  • Turkey breast
  • Bulgar grain

Many people can get the best benefits by getting 650 mg to 2,000 mg of betaine per day. Until now, the recommended daily intake has not yet been established.

Health Benefits

1. Relieves Hypochlorhydria

The low production of stomach acid or less secretion of hydrochloric acid is called as hypochlorhydria. It has a negative impact on the digestion process. Hence, the bacteria that would normally be killed by the acid in the gut survive. In conventional medicine, betaine hydrochloride has been successfully used to treat this condition.

2. Maldigestion

If the food in the digestive system is not properly digested, then it affects the absorption of the nutrients and also causes hormonal disruption. People who frequently experience constipation and bloating or frequent belching after eating food are recommended to take betaine HCl. Dr. Robert J. Hedaya has recommended taking about 600 mg of betaine in the middle of a meal to avoid burning the empty stomach lining.

3. Helps with Ulcers

Betaine may be used to help treat ulcers. It is based on the theory which states that having less stomach acid affects the digestion since it cannot completely digest proteins leading to the development of ulcer and heartburn. Hence, many naturopathic physicians believe that betaine HCl is very helpful in treating ulcers, although it has been noted that there is still no scientific evidence to support such claims.

4. Heart Disease

Betaine tends to reduce the homocysteine levels that can cause heart attack and stroke. Betaine is helpful in treating heart problems when it is taken along with folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6. Higher homocysteine levels tend to cause atherosclerosis. However, before taking betaine supplements, consult your doctor since betaine also tends to increase the level of cholesterol in the body.

High homocysteine levels can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Studies have shown that betaine supplements can reduce this risk. Betaine also lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke by fighting against the hardened and blocked arteries. It also lowers the risk of other forms of heart diseases and cardiac arrest.

5. Improves Muscle Mass

Studies have shown that betaine supplements can help increase muscle mass and muscle strength. Although several studies have been conducted both on animals and humans, the results always vary. Some studies have shown that betaine supplementation improved muscle endurance, whereas, in some studies, there have been no positive results. Moreover, to further reach to a conclusion, athletes were given betaine supplementation for six weeks and positive results were obtained. It was concluded that betaine supplements are capable of providing muscle power, muscle growth, and increased stamina.

6. Fat Loss

Studies have shown that betaine could help quicken the process of burning fat without breaking down muscle tissues. There was a study conducted on pigs, which were given betaine supplementation. They lost more fat and their ability to metabolize proteins was improved. However, it was found that the effects of betaine were more apparent when the subjects’ diet was low in calories. More research is needed to see whether the result could be the same if the diet is high in calories.

7. Liver Function and Detoxification

Due to alcohol abuse, obesity, and diabetes, fat could accumulate in the liver to a dangerous level. Betaine shows the ability to break down and remove these fats, so that they can help the liver to detoxify. Moreover, betaine protects the body from the damage of toxin exposure by helping the liver to remove these toxins and chemicals. Hepatotoxins that enter the body through medications, pesticides, and herbicides can damage the liver. Betaine has been found to protect the liver against the effects of hepatotoxins.

Many pesticides and herbicides are sprayed on fruits and vegetables. They contain multiple toxins. Research is still ongoing about their long-term negative effect. Betaine may be helpful in processing these toxins and removing them out of the body.

8. Relieves Aches and Pain

Studies have revealed that betaine may help improve muscle pain and aches. The study was done in horses, where they were given betaine supplements. It was found that after training or exercise, the levels of lactate acid was reduced. For people who regularly undergo vigorous exercises, betaine could be beneficial. Moreover, people who experience muscle pain and joint tissue damage could benefit from betaine.

9. Protects the Body from Damage Due to Alcoholism 

Alcohol causes an accumulation of excess fat in the liver, which can eventually damage the liver. Betaine is found to treat this condition since it has a lipotropic effect. It can help eliminate the fat, and thus, heal fatty liver disease.

10. Homocystinuria

It is a metabolic disorder caused by high levels of homocysteine. Homocystinuria may also cause osteoporosis and heart disease. Betaine is quite helpful when it comes to reducing the levels of homocysteine.

11. Shields Internal Organs

Some studies have shown that betaine is an important amino acid for the prevention of chronic diseases. It also protects the internal organs and enhances their performance. Moreover, vascular risk factors are known to improve with betaine use.

Uses of Betaine

  • Used to treat various health conditions such as liver diseases due to fat deposits, diabetes, alcohol abuse, or obesity.
  • Used for dry mouth when it is combined in toothpaste.
  • People who have a poor diet, generalized stress, and dehydration for a longer time find benefit from betaine.
  • It is considered as a powerful digestive aid. In premenopausal women and in the elderly, betaine has been found to support digestion.
  • Balances homocysteine levels.
  • Promotes DNA sequencing and polymerase chain reaction. It prevents the development of secondary structures in DNA molecules. It also prevents the conditions associated with it.
  • Helps treat depression.
  • People with a lack of stomach acid or enzyme deficiency are usually advised to take betaine since it helps in digesting fats and proteins. As people age, the level of enzymes in the body also slowly diminishes. Moreover, the time taken for the nutrients to get absorbed in the body also increases. Since there is a lack of nutrients, it can lead to various health conditions such as gastritis, asthma, Candida infections, rheumatoid arthritis, and atherosclerosis. The body is also prone to parasitic and bacterial infections. People with acne, yeast infections, gallstones, and certain allergies also do not produce enough amount of gastric acid. Hence, they may benefit from betaine supplements. Betaine also protects the stomach from harmful bacteria and maintains the pH in the digestive tract.
  • With age, the ability of the person to secrete digestive enzymes also decreases. This leads to low levels of HCl and low enzymatic activity. The digestion becomes sluggish, nutrients are poorly absorbed, and the body is not able to eliminate waste. The waste remains lodged in the system, which can cause an overload of toxins and tissue irritation. People facing these problems have found help by taking betaine HCl before meals.
  • Some research studies have proven that betaine can help in developing a positive mood, insulin signaling, and joint recovery. Muscle endurance can also be increased with the help of betaine. Also, through reduced cortisol training, it can increase muscle and anabolic gain through protein synthesis. It also increases the level of growth hormones after training. In one study, it was found that athletic strength was increased by 25 percent when athletes were supplemented with betaine.

Betaine HCl could also help with the following conditions:

  • Acne
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach ulcer
  • Gallstones
  • Thyroid function
  • Food sensitivities
  • Anemia due to iron deficiency
  • Stomach disorders
  • Malabsorption of nutrients
  • Indigestion and heartburn
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Yeast infections
  • Inner ear infection
  • Arteriosclerosis


Do not take betaine HCl without the approval of the doctor since the supplement may make the condition worse. Although it is a safe supplement, when it is taken in higher doses, some side effects arise, which may include high cholesterol levels, kidney disease, obesity, stomach upset, nausea, and diarrhea.

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In one study, it was noted that participants who took betaine had fewer levels of homocysteine in their plasma. Also, in another study, it was revealed that betaine that is taken on higher doses also reduced the levels of homocysteine. Betaine is also beneficial for heart health. 

— Update: 01-01-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article The Benefits of Betaine HCL for Digestion from the website www.amymyersmd.com for the keyword benefits of betaine hcl.

HCL. You might recognize those letters from your high school chemistry class as hydrochloric acid – a potent, highly corrosive, and pungent chemical. You may not know that your gastric juices also contain a form of HCL to aid digestion by helping break down the food you eat. There are many benefits of betaine HCL for your digestive health, and I will tell you about them later. 

Your body’s natural HCL production diminishes as you age. Without HCL in your gastric juices, you could experience a host of uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating, gas, heartburn, and even poor nutrient absorption. Over time, low HCL production can lead to other health issues, including autoimmune disease. 

I’m going to tell you what causes low stomach acid, how it impacts your health, and the benefits of betaine HCL to boost your stomach acid levels for better gut health, healthier skin, and optimal nutrient absorption. First, let’s have a review of hydrochloric acid. 

What is Hydrochloric Acid?

If you took chemistry in high school, you probably learned hydrochloric acid is corrosive and could cause severe chemical burns if it comes in contact with your skin. You likely wore protective gear and took safetey measures when working with hydrochloric acid in chemistry labs. Common end uses for hydrochloric acid include household cleaners, pool maintenance, and food manufacturing.

I don’t want you to worry. The type of hydrochloric acid you used in chemistry class or found in household cleaners is a synthetic form combined with hydrogen chloride gas. 

The natural form is the main component of gastric acid naturally found in your stomach. The hydrochloric acid found in your stomach acid is very beneficial to the digestion of the food you eat, and that’s because of HCL’s alkaline properties. Let me explain. 

Your stomach should be naturally acidic to kill harmful bacteria and microbes that disrupt the natural balance in your gut. HCL also supports your immune system by killing viruses once they reach the stomach, so they don’t make their way into the small intestine and, eventually, the bloodstream.  

It takes a lot of energy for the cells in your stomach to produce HCL. If they don’t have the energy to generate enough HCL due to a diet full of processed foods, gluten, and dairy products, it can lead to hypochlorhydria. I’ll talk more about this in just a bit! First, let’s discuss the benefits of betaine HCL. 

What are the Benefits of Betaine HCL?

If you glance at the ingredients in an antacid, it’s a pretty safe bet it contains betaine HCL. Betaine HCL supports the stomach’s natural acidic levels. Betaine hydrochloride is in sugar beets and many plants. This powerful herb supports nearly every digestive process in the stomach, promoting normal acid levels. Here are the benefits of betaine HCL: 

Betaine HCL Supports Digestion

Your body expends an immense amount of energy digesting the foods you eat. Without optimal stomach acid levels, your body has to work overtime which often causes low energy and even fatigue. Betaine HCL promotes stomach acid levels so your body can break down food in the stomach, making it easier to absorb nutrients more efficiently in the small intestine. It also helps kill off harmful bacteria in your stomach before they have a chance to enter your digestive tract.

Betaine HCL Heals Leaky Gut

Adding Betaine HCL to your routine maintains an ideal balance of acidity in your digestive system, which supports your vulnerable gut linking. Betaine HCL creates an inhospitable environment for harmful microbes, yeast, and bacterial and fungal infections. It helps protect you against the effects of leaky gut syndrome by supporting protein digestion. 

Without enough HCL to break down proteins, tiny undigested particles may leak into your bloodstream. Your immune system doesn’t recognize these particles and begins to attack them. Without addressing your leaky gut, undigested particles entering your bloodstream puts your immune system on high alert, and it responds by attacking everything in sight, including healthy tissue. 

Betaine HCL Stops Candida Overgrowth 

Supplementing with Betaine HCL inhibits Candida overgrowth, preventing it from accumulating in your small intestine. Maintaining a healthy acidity in your stomach helps your digestive tract digest your food correctly, preventing undigested food from sitting in your stomach and feeding the Candida that disrupts your gut flora. If you have both Candida overgrowth and leaky gut, the Candida can escape through your intestinal wall and create a widespread systemic issue.

Betaine HCL Promotes Skin Health

Your gut health is tied to the health of your skin. Many common skin conditions, such as eczema, dermatitis, acne, and rosacea, are linked to low stomach acid.1 Supplementing with HCL can indirectly support your skin health by promoting healthy stomach acid levels. 

Betaine HCL Supports Nutrient Absorption

Your body cannot absorb the nutrients from your food without healthy stomach acid levels. Nutrient deficiencies and poor nutrient absorption can lead to unintentional weight loss, fatigue, muscle wasting, digestive issues, dull hair, brittle nails, loss of bone density, and many other health conditions. Betaine HCL boosts your stomach acid to ensure your body can utilize all the nutrients you eat!

As mentioned, betaine HCL supports healthy stomach acid levels. So, what happens when your stomach acid gets too low? This is known as hypochlorhydria. 

What is Hypochlorhydria?

Hypochlorhydria is the medical term used for low stomach acid. Earlier I mentioned that low stomach acid could cause leaky gut and Candida overgrowth since it inhibits your body’s ability to kill harmful bacteria.

When your body can’t properly digest food and absorb nutrients over a long period, you are at a higher risk of malnutrition, gastrointestinal disorders, leaky gut, and the overgrowth of Candida. 

Hypochlorhydria damages your gastrointestinal system, causing gut infections and other chronic health conditions if left untreated. Here are the symptoms of hypochlorhydria:2 

  • Heartburn
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • Hair loss
  • Undigested food in your stools
  • GI infections

If you suspect that you have hypochlorhydria, you may want to test your stomach acid levels at home using the baking soda test. To do this, you’ll combine 4 ounces of water with a quarter teaspoon of baking soda and drink it on an empty stomach. The combination of baking soda and stomach acid will produce carbon dioxide and cause you to belch soon after drinking the mixture. However, if it takes longer than 3-5 minutes for you to burp, you may have low stomach acid. 

To confirm, you can schedule a visit with your functional medicine physician to run a few stomach acid tests for a formal diagnosis. The good news is that a solution is in your control. I’ll talk more about my go-to solution for low stomach acid in just a minute! First, let me tell you what causes hypochlorhydria. 

What Causes Hypochlorhydria?

There are many potential underlying causes of hypochlorhydria. Gastritis often has underlying causes such as autoimmune disease, chronic overconsumption of alcohol, and bacterial infection. Some additional causes of hypochlorhydria include:3

  • A poor diet full of processed foods
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • Overexposure to toxins
  • Advanced age
  • Use of NSAIDs or antibiotics
  • Food sensitivities
  • Hormonal changes

There are many reasons why you could have low stomach acid. Getting to the root cause of your low stomach acid is the first step in supporting your digestive health. That’s why I recommend HCL to anyone with a gut infection or digestive problem. Yet, you might be wondering if betaine HCL supplements are safe. Let’s talk about that. 

Are HCL Supplements Safe?

Anyone concerned about leaky gut, wanting to support healthy pH in their digestive system, needing additional digestive support, or dealing with gas, bloating, and nutrient deficiencies could benefit from HCL supplementation. 

Betaine HCL optimizes the pH levels of your stomach, adding just the right amount of acid to your gastric juices. As a result, this will support optimal digestion, mineral absorption, enzyme activation, and microbe balance.

Acidic beverages such as apple cider vinegar and lemon juice are also known to increase stomach acid levels. However, consuming them in liquid form could cause issues if you have a gut infection. It can also cause esophageal pain and discomfort, which is where betaine HCL supplements can be beneficial.4

What is the Solution?

As I mentioned, HCL supplements can be beneficial in supporting the digestive process. However, not all HCL supplements work or contain betaine. A high-quality HCL supplement should be in the form of betaine HCL. This is essential for optimal nutrient absorption and digestion and for preventing conditions such as leaky gut and bacterial overgrowth. 

I formulated HCL to ensure the highest quality of ingredients, including 648 mg of betaine hydrochloride (or betaine HCL). I made sure to include optimal amounts of betaine HCL to promote optimal gastric acidity, support the breakdown of protein into constituent amino acids, and facilitate the activation of pancreatic enzymes. HCL adds just the right amount of acid to your digestive system to optimize pH levels in your stomach acid. 

For maximum support, I recommend taking HCL with Complete Enzymes for optimal digestive health. Complete Enzymes offer a broad spectrum of digestive enzymes to maximize nutrient absorption, support a healthy inflammatory response, and break down proteins. 

The Final Word

Hydrochloric acid, or HCL, is so essential for proper digestion of the food you eat that nearly everyone would benefit from a betaine HCL supplement. Your gut is the pathway to achieving optimal health. If you notice digestive issues such as gas and bloating, chances are you have low stomach acid. Adding HCL to your daily routine supports healthy stomach acid levels. 


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About the Author: Tung Chi