More betaine in your diet, more muscle mass
If you do not do physically demanding work and do not train with weights, you will lose a little muscle mass every year after the age of thirty. According to a Chinese epidemiological study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, you can slow down and perhaps even reverse this process if you increase your betaine intake.
Nutritionists from Sun Yat-sen University used the data from 1,242 study participants in the Guangzhou Nutrition and Health Study. The study participants were 41-60 years old.
The researchers collected their data over two periods. In 2011-2013, the researchers determined the muscle mass and diet of the participants, and 3 years later, in 2014-2017, they again determined how much muscle mass the subjects had.
The Chinese mainly looked at betaine intake. In animal studies [J Anim Sci. 2001 Jun;79(6):1557-65.] [J Anim Sci. 2001 Mar;79(3):722-8.] [J Anim Sci. 2002 Feb;80(2):421-8.] and human studies betaine stimulates muscle growth.
Good dietary sources of betaine are spinach, quinoa, grains, sugar beets, meat and fish.
Based on their betaine intake, the researchers divided the study participants into three equally sized groups. Such groups are called tertiles in food science.
Study participants in the first tertile consumed 49.7-195.6 milligrams of betaine daily. In the second and third tertiles, study participants consumed 196.5-285.5 milligrams or 268.8-759.3 milligrams betaine per day, respectively.
In the first and second tertiles, the study participants lost a little muscle mass between the first and second measurements. On the other hand, the tertile study participants with the highest betaine intake gained a little muscle mass.
Click on the figure below for a larger version.
"Higher dietary betaine intake was associated with less loss of skeletal muscle mass in middle-aged adults, suggesting that increasing dietary betaine intake may help maintain or improve skeletal muscle mass during aging", the researchers write.
"Further long-term prospective studies, especially randomized controlled trials, are needed to confirm the findings."
Br J Nutr. 2020 Jul 3;1-21. doi: 10.1017/S0007114520002433. Online ahead of print.
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