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.
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.
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.
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.