Choline is chemically called tetramethylglycine. When a methyl group is removed from this molecule through normal metabolic activity, it becomes trimethylglycine, also known a betaine. High choline intakes can therefore increase body reserves of betaine. Betaine is also known a lipotropic factor because of its ability to aid in the processing of fats from the liver. In this regard, betaine is helpful in the treatment of alcoholic fatty liver that develops from over consumption of ethanol. Animal and human studies show that betaine supplements can improve the clinical symptoms of fatty liver. Non-alcoholic fatty liver is a closely related disease that is caused not by alcohol, but by fructose. High intakes of fructose in the diet can cause fat accumulation in the liver and this leads to insulin resistance and weight gain. The high fructose contents of foods and drinks such as confectionary and soft drinks is now thought to be a direct cause of obesity.
The fact that betaine is beneficial at treating alcoholic fatty liver suggest that it may also be effective at treating the non-alcoholic fatty liver associated with fructose consumption. Interestingly, a number of vegetables are high in betaine and choline, which may explain some of the weight loss effects of a high plant food diet. Beetroot is a great source of betaine (~150 mg per 100 g). Spinach is an even better source of betaine (~750 mg per 100 g). Legumes and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts are an excellent source of choline. Supplemental lecithin is also an effective way to supply choline as structurally lecithin is phosphatidylcholine, a fatty acid type molecule with a molecule of choline attached. Lecithin is known to have fat oxidising effect in liver tissue and is therefore recommended in any fat loss diet. Eggs are an excellent (eggsellent!!) source of phosphatidylcholine.