Glycine is a conditionally dispensable amino acid that is synthesised from serine, with folate acting as a coenzyme (enzyme cofactor). Glycine gets its name from the Greek word meaning “sweet.” It is an important precursor of many substances in the body, including protein, DNA, phospholipids, collagen and creatine. It is also a precursor in the release of energy and has been shown to increase growth hormone levels.
It is the smallest amino acid, but it has many powerful effects on the body and is involved in a variety of biochemical reactions. It is found naturally in animal products including meat, fish, poultry and dairy, but can also be consumed as a nutritional supplement. Since glycine is naturally produced by the body, it has very low toxicity levels.
Glycine is also used by the liver in the elimination of toxic substances and in the formation of bile salts. It is necessary for the proper functioning of the central nervous system and is an inhibitory neurotransmitter.
During rapid growth, the body’s demand for glycine increases. Studies have confirmed that the use of glycine supplements causes an increase in growth hormone. Some studies have also noted that glycine ingestion causes an increase in strength, possibly due in part to its elevation of the growth hormone level or increased collagen synthesis. Supplemental glycine has additionally been shown to increase body creatine levels.
Other reported benefits of glycine include the following:
• Glycine plays a key role in the development and quality of skeletal muscles, tissues and structural integrity.
• Glycine helps repair tissues.
• It is a component of Glucose Tolerance Factor (GTF) and the enzyme glutathione. Found in high concentrations in the skin and connective tissues, it is useful for repairing damaged tissues and promoting healing.
• This amino acid also helps speed the healing of wounds.
• It is also a factor in prostate health.
• Naturally sweet, it may be helpful in reducing gastric distress.
• Glycine has been used in treating bipoloar (manic/depressive) disorder and hyperactivity
Glycine supplementation may also help treat symptoms associated with sleep deprivation. A 2007 study published by the journal Sleep and Biological Rhythms found out that glycine supplementation improved both subjective and objective measures of sleep quality in patients who experienced continuous unsatisfactory sleep.
Short-term use of 1-6 grams daily in divided dosages may be beneficial for power athletes and bodybuilders training for increased strength and muscle mass, as well as connective tissue repair and maintenance.
Some reported side effects of glycine use include stomach irritation, nausea and vomiting. It may also cause light-headedness and excessive salivation if taken intravenously.
Like with all free-form amino acids, use glycine supplements with caution. In full profile amino acid products, glycine is typically contained in protein supplements and supplements that contain hydrolysed collagen and gelatine. Consult with your physician before taking any new supplement.
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