Trimethylglycine (TMG), also known as betaine or glycinbetaine is a chemical compound derived from glycine and present in many living organisms.
Trimethylglycine has a brute or molecular formula: C5H11NO2 and its name in the official IUPAC nomenclature is: 2-trimethylammoniumacetate.
The term betaine was attributed to it by Scheibler, in 1866, as this compound is isolated from sugar beets (Beta vulgaris L.).
Trimethylglycine is a quaternary ammonium compound with three methyl groups. At neutral pH it is a zwitterion, i.e. it appears as an electrically neutral substance with a positive charge inside its molecule corresponding to the N+ nitrogen atom and a negative one corresponding to an O- oxygen atom.
Due to its zwitterionic structure, all compounds derived from amino acids with this characteristic are generally referred to as “betaines”.
From a physical point of view, trimethylglycine is a combustible and odorless white solid; it is also a hygroscopic substance, very soluble in water and hydrotropic. At a temperature of 310°C it decomposes, isomerizing into the methyl ester of dimethylaminoacetic acid.
Trimethylglycine is marketed in its anhydrous form.
Trimethylglycine, like many betaines, serve as organic osmolytes, substances synthesized or taken up from the environment by cells to protect themselves against osmotic stress, aridity, high salinity or temperature. The intracellular accumulation of betaines, without disturbing the enzymatic function, the structure of the proteins and the integrity of the membrane, allows water retention in the cells, protecting them from the effects of dehydration. It is also an increasingly important methyl donor.
Thanks to this activity, betaines have been successfully used in the treatment of homocystinuria and hyperhomocysteinemia, conditions associated with an increased cardiovascular risk.
The health interest in Betaine derives from its ability to transfer methyl groups to homocysteine, transforming it into methionine (essential amino acid from which it derives).
This is a rather positive effect, since at high concentrations plasma homocysteine has been shown to significantly increase cardiovascular risk.
Among the contraindications, it should be remembered that the use of betaines should be avoided, or if strictly necessary supervised by a doctor, during pregnancy and in the subsequent breastfeeding period.
The same precautions should be used in the course of gastritis, gastroesophageal reflux disease and peptic ulcers.
Warning: The information provided is not medical advice and may not be accurate. The contents are for illustrative purposes only and do not replace medical advice.