Health Benefits of Glycine

Glycine is an amino acid, a compound that your body uses to create protein. 

While your body does naturally produce glycine, it is also available through protein-rich foods, particularly meat. Glycine can also be found as a dietary supplement in capsule form or as a powder that can be added to various dishes. 

You can also find glycine in collagen supplements, where it is the primary amino acid. This method actually may help your body absorb the glycine. When glycine is bound to other amino acids, such as in collagen, it has to compete for absorption less.

Health Benefits

As an amino acid, glycine contributes to cellular growth and health. 

Glycine may help the body in multiple ways, including the following:

Decreases Oxidative Stress 

Glycine is one of the amino acids essential to the body’s synthesis of the antioxidant glutathione. Cells produce glutathione in order to fight free radicals that can otherwise cause oxidative stress and damage cells, proteins, and DNA.

As the body ages, its ability to naturally synthesize glutathione, but this ability can be restored through supplementation with glycine and cysteine. 

Improves Brain and Muscle Performance

Glycine plays a role in the synthesis of creatine as well, another amino acid that can also be consumed independently. Creatine is a popular supplement for athletes because it provides muscles with the energy needed for short bursts of strength and speed.

Creatine also provides the brain energy. It may help with cognitive tasks such as short-term memory and reasoning.

Aids in Diabetes Management and Prevention

Glycine supplements stimulate a gut hormone that increases the ability of insulin to remove glucose from the bloodstream.

In people with type 2 diabetes, this interaction is compromised. 

Glycine supplements do encourage insulin response in healthy people and may help prevent or manage diabetes. In one study, healthy, first-degree relatives of people with type 2 diabetes who took glycine supplements in the morning showed improved insulin secretion throughout the day.

Decreases Risk of Heart Attack

In addition to being linked to lower blood pressure and risk of obesity, glycine supplements may help reduce the risk of a heart attack. In a study of over 4000 people with chest pains, higher levels of glycine in the blood were linked to a lower chance of heart attack.

Continued

Protects Liver from Alcohol Damage

Glycine helps keep alcohol from reaching the liver. It activates first-pass metabolism in the stomach, which disposes of a portion of the ethanol consumed. However, human studies are still needed to see if glycine supplements have any effect.

Improves Sleep Quality

One study found that taking glycine before bed significantly improved sleep quantity and quality in people with tendencies towards insomnia. One possible reason for this effect is the ability of glycine to reduce core body temperature, something that also occurs during sleep.

Health Risks

Glycine is generally considered safe for everyone in appropriate amounts.

Glycine may react negatively with some medications, however, and you should consult your doctor before adding any supplement to your diet.

Amounts and Dosage

The typical dosage in a supplement is about 2-5g of glycine. 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 07, 2020

Sources

Sources:

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Deficient synthesis of glutathione underlies oxidative stress in aging and can be corrected by dietary cysteine and glycine supplementation.”

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “The metabolic response to ingested glycine.”

Experimental gerontology: “Effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive function of healthy individuals: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials.”

Diabetes: “A Glycine-Insulin Autocrine Feedback Loop Enhances Insulin Secretion From Human β-Cells and Is Impaired in Type 2 Diabetes.”

Gastroenterology: “Glycine prevents alcohol-induced liver injury by decreasing alcohol in the rat stomach.”

Hormone and Metabolic Research: “Effect of glycine on insulin secretion and action in healthy first-degree relatives of type 2 diabetes mellitus patients.”

Journal of the American Heart Association: “Plasma Glycine and Risk of Acute Myocardial Infarction in Patients With Suspected Stable Angina Pectoris.”

The Journal of Clinical Investigation: “Absorption of glycine and L-alanine by the human jejunum.”

Journal of pharmacological sciences: “New therapeutic strategy for amino acid medicine: glycine improves the quality of sleep.”

Sports Medicine: “Creatine Supplementation and Upper Limb Strength Performance: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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