Betaine is used to treat homocystinuria (an inherited condition in which the body cannot break down a certain protein, causing build-up of homocysteine in the blood). Increased amounts of homocysteine in the body can cause symptoms such as extreme tiredness, seizures, dislocation of the lens of the eye, abnormal bone structure, osteoporosis (weak bones), blood clots, or decreased weight or rate of weight gain and slowed development in children. Betaine is in a class of medications called nutrients. It works by decreasing the amount of homocysteine in the blood.

Side Effects Of Betaine

Betaine may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if this symptom is severe or does not go away:

  • nausea

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

  • confusion
  • drowsiness
  • behavior changes
  • headache
  • vomiting
  • seizures
  • loss of consciousness

Betaine may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

Warnings & Precautions

Before taking betaine:

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to betaine or any other medications.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had any medical condition.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking betaine, call your doctor.

Betaine Dosage

Betaine comes as a powder to be mixed with food or drink and taken by mouth. It is usually taken twice a day. Take betaine at around the same times every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take betaine exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

Your doctor will probably start you on a low dose of betaine and gradually increase your dose based on your body’s response to the medication.

Your doctor may tell you to take other medications such as vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B12 (cobalamin), and folic acid together with betaine.

Betaine controls homocystinuria but does not cure it. Continue to take betaine even if you feel well. Do not stop taking betaine without talking to your doctor.

To use betaine powder, follow these steps:

  • Shake the bottle gently before removing the cap.
  • Using the measuring scoop provided, measure the number of scoops your doctor has prescribed. One level scoop of powder is equal to 1 gram of betaine.
  • Mix the measured amount of powder with 4 to 6 ounces (120 to 180 milliliters) of water, juice, milk, or formula until the powder is completely dissolved. Betaine powder may also be mixed with food.
  • Drink or eat the mixture immediately.
  • Replace the cap tightly on the bottle after using.


Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests to check your body’s response to betaine.

Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.


All information has been provided courtesy of MedLinePlus from the National Library of Medicine and from the FDA.