5 Glycine benefits you should know about

Ever wondered about Glycine’s role in your body? This simple amino acid might just hold secrets to better health that are yet to be fully unraveled.

In today’s fast-paced world, where health challenges are ever-evolving, understanding the role of such fundamental nutrients is more crucial than ever.

Glycine’s influence goes far beyond muscle and joint support – it’s a key player in areas of health that are both critical and often underestimated.

Let’s delve into the unfolding story of Glycine and why it’s capturing the attention of health experts and longevity enthusiasts around the globe.

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What is glycine?

Glycine, often overshadowed amongst other amino acids, stands out for its simplicity as a non-essential amino acid.

Known in scientific terms as aminoacetic acid, its straightforward, non-chiral structure offers a range of health benefits that are surprisingly versatile.

Let’s understand how glycine helps us at the cellular and molecular level.

1. Glycine as a neurotransmitter 

Glycine has a key role in brain function. It influences your mood, cognitive abilities, and sleep patterns. By helping in maintaining mental well-being and alertness, Glycine is a vital component in neurological health.

2. Glycine as a collagen component

Glycine is a fundamental ingredient in collagen production, the protein that gives structure to your skin, bones, and connective tissues.

Representing about ⅓ of collagen’s composition, Glycine contributes significantly to maintaining skin elasticity, joint mobility, and overall structural integrity of your body.

3. Glycine as a precursor to molecules

Glycine is a precursor to several important biomolecules. It’s involved in the synthesis of creatine, which energises your muscles and nerves, and in the production of heme, an integral part of hemoglobin that transports oxygen in your blood. 

Here are 10 lesser-known facts about Glycine:

  1. Discovery and naming: Glycine was first isolated in 1820 from gelatin and named for its sweet taste — ‘glykys’ is Greek for sweet.
  2. Space presence: Glycine has been identified in space, particularly in comets, suggesting it may play a role in the origins of life in the universe.
  3. Role in creatine synthesis: Glycine is a key component in the synthesis of creatine, a molecule that provides energy to muscles and supports brain function.
  4. Schizophrenia research: Glycine has been studied as a potential treatment for schizophrenia, especially for reducing negative symptoms when used alongside conventional antipsychotics.
  5. Glutathione production: Glycine is one of three amino acids needed to produce glutathione, a vital antioxidant that protects cells from oxidative stress.
  6. Detoxification: It plays a role in the body’s detoxification process by aiding in the production of bile acids and the clearance of harmful substances.
  7. Purine synthesis: Glycine contributes to the synthesis of purines, which are necessary for DNA and RNA production.
  8. Impact on cytoprotection: Glycine exhibits cytoprotective properties, meaning it can help protect cells against various forms of injury, including ischaemic damage.
  9. Ancient Chinese Medicine: Glycine has been used in traditional Chinese medicine, often in the form of bone broth, to support skin health and the immune system.
  10. Influence on taste: Despite being a component of proteins, Glycine itself imparts a sweet taste and can be used as a flavour enhancer in food products.

Benefits of Glycine

From energy metabolism to oxygen transportation, Glycine is involved in a broad range of biological processes.

Let’s explore the diverse benefits of Glycine on our body, as supported by various scientific findings.

1. Improving sleep and cognitive function

Researchers discovered that Glycine enhances sleep quality by lowering core body temperature, a critical factor for entering and maintaining deep sleep. 

Scientific studies reveal that consuming this specific amino acid can lead to more restful nights[1] and sharper mental acuity[2].

  • For instance, a study found that participants who consumed 3 g of Glycine before bed experienced not only a decrease in the time it took to fall asleep, but also improved sleep efficacy and less daytime sleepiness[3].
  • In another study, participants taking Glycine reported better memory recall and recognition, pointing to its positive impact on cognitive functions like memory and attention[4].

If you’re seeking to harness these benefits, clinical research suggests a dosage of about 3–5 grams of Glycine before bedtime to be safe and effective in improving sleep.

2. Promoting collagen synthesis and joint function

Glycine, a key player in joint health, makes up one-third of collagen, the most prevalent protein in your body. This vital amino acid not only contributes to collagen’s structure but also promotes joint strength and flexibility.

Collagen, integral to your joints, acts as a cushioning agent, and Glycine’s role in its formation is essential. It ensures that your joints are resilient enough to endure daily stress and movement.

Dietary supplements aimed at boosting collagen synthesis, which include Glycine, are commonly recommended for maintaining joint health.

These supplements are believed to assist in cartilage repair and regeneration, potentially alleviating joint discomfort and enhancing mobility by reducing inflammation[5].

Whilst we await more detailed studies on humans, Glycine’s fundamental involvement in collagen production underlines its importance in supporting joint health and functionality.

Avea’s solution: The Collagen Activator

Embracing the power of Glycine for collagen synthesis, our Avea Collagen Activator stands out as a vegan-friendly option, ensuring everyone can reap the benefits of this essential amino acid.

Boost your collagen levels naturally

  • 100% vegan precursor: Ideal mix for vegetarians and vegans, including 5g of Glycine.
  • 4x more effective: Scientifically proven amino acid blend, developed with ETH Zurich scientists.
  • Backed by 1000+ studies: Bioavailable ingredients boosting and maintaining ideal collagen production.

It contains 5 grams of Glycine, not only supporting collagen production, but also offering its individual health benefits, like improved sleep and cognitive function.

Developed in collaboration with scientists from ETH Zurich, the Collagen Activator features an ideal ratio of Glycine, Proline, and Hydroxyproline, maximising the efficacy of collagen synthesis. 

Together with CaAKG, this blend has been shown to be 4x more effective than standard collagen supplements, providing a significant boost to skin, bone, and joint health.

The Avea Collagen Activator is also enriched with additional powerhouse ingredients. Vitamin C, a key player in collagen formation, and Astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant, work synergistically to enhance overall wellness, making our product a comprehensive solution for those seeking the full spectrum of Collagen and Glycine benefits.

3. Balancing blood sugar levels

Glycine plays a notable role in metabolic health, particularly in regulating blood sugar levels and mitigating the risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM).

Its influence on both insulin secretion and blood glucose response positions it as a significant nutrient in metabolic syndrome management.

  • Research indicates that Glycine may enhance the body’s insulin response, thus facilitating more effective blood sugar regulation[6].
  • A study revealed that individuals with higher glycine levels had a lower risk of developing T2DM[7].
  • Obesity and metabolic disorders show elevated plasma glucagon concentrations that reduce circulating glycine and increase its degradation [8].

Most of the current research is preliminary, and more comprehensive studies are needed to fully establish Glycine’s role in metabolic health.

4. Anti-inflammatory properties

Think of Glycine as your body’s own peacekeeper. When present in just the right amounts, it initiates a process that soothes inflammation, similar to a calming influence in a heated situation.

This amino acid achieves its anti-inflammatory abilities by skillfully adjusting crucial cellular pathways that usually escalate inflammation.

What Glycine does is quite fascinating – it basically activates a specific ion channel in your cells, just like flicking a switch that signals your body to ease up on inflammation.

This action is particularly beneficial for those grappling with chronic or nerve-related pain.

Glycine steps in to adjust the activity of various immune cells, dialing down the production of inflammation and pain-triggering molecules.

The scope of Glycine’s influence is broad, offering potential relief for a range of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, gastric ulcers, liver diseases, and even critical conditions like septic shock.

Essentially, Glycine helps to dampen the inflammatory response, underscoring its vital role in both treating and potentially preventing conditions marked by chronic inflammation – one of the 12 hallmarks of ageing.

Glycine’s ability to suppress inflammatory pathways could not only provide symptom relief but also possibly slow the progression of these diseases.

5. Enhancing brain health

In the realm of neurotransmission, Glycine acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, particularly in the spinal cord, brainstem, and retina.

By binding to Glycine receptors, it helps regulate neuronal excitability, ensuring a balance between neural inhibition and excitation. This balance is crucial for the proper functioning of the nervous system.

The neuroprotective effects of Glycine are also highly significant. Research suggests that it can safeguard neurons from various forms of injury, including ischemic stroke.

  • By modulating inflammatory responses and protecting against excitotoxicity (a process where neurons are damaged and killed by excessive stimulation by neurotransmitters such as glutamate), Glycine shows promise in reducing brain damage following traumatic or ischemic injuries[9].
  • Glycine’s implications in treating schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric disorders are also under exploration. It functions as a co-agonist at NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors, which are implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia[10].

Further research may unlock even more therapeutic potentials of this versatile amino acid in brain health and disease management.

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How to include Glycine in your everyday diet?

Integrating Glycine into your daily diet can be a straightforward and beneficial endeavor. This amino acid is abundantly present in a variety of food sources, making it easy to include in your regular meals.

Protein-rich foods are the best sources of Glycine. Meats, especially skin and bones, are particularly rich in this amino acid. Think of chicken skin, pork skin, gelatin, seafood, dairy products or legumes.

If you are on a plant-based diet, soy products, spinach, kale, cabbage, pumpkin, banana, and kiwi are good options to ensure adequate Glycine intake.

The recommended daily intake of Glycine is not explicitly established, as it is a non-essential amino acid that the body can synthesise.

Supplementation may be further beneficial in specific cases.

What causes a decrease in Glycine levels?

  • Ageing: The natural ageing process can reduce your body’s ability to synthesise glycine.
  • Dietary restrictions: If you’re vegetarian or vegan, your diets might lead to lower glycine levels due to the lack of meat, a primary source of this amino acid.
  • Chronic stress: Being constantly under stressful situations can deplete various nutrients, including amino acids like glycine, as your body uses more resources to cope with stress.
  • Illness or injury: When you are recovering from an illness or injury, there is an increase in your body’s demand for amino acids, including glycine, for tissue repair and immune function.
  • Intense physical activity: If you’re an athlete or are engaged in heavy physical labour, you might need more Glycine for muscle repair and recovery.

Typically, supplement doses range from 3–5 grams per day, depending on individual needs and health objectives.

Glycine benefits

Benefits you can expect from Avea’s Collagen Activator

It contains 5 g of Glycine which

  • Increases collagen production within your body
  • Improves skin elasticity and smoothness
  • Enhances skin protection against UV damage (in addition to sunscreen)
  • Promotes healthy joints by supporting cartilage growth
  • Reduces inflammation and promotes cellular energy
  • May reduce biological age over time

Safety and side effects of Glycine supplements

Glycine is generally considered safe, but like any supplement, it can have potential side effects, particularly at high doses.

Excessive intake of Glycine may lead to gastrointestinal discomfort, including nausea, upset stomach, and diarrhea. It’s important to adhere to recommended dosages.

Those with pre-existing medical conditions or taking other medications should consult a healthcare professional before beginning Glycine supplementation.

Key takeaway

Glycine’s versatile role in our body shows its importance in maintaining overall health and well-being.

From supporting sleep and cognitive functions to aiding in collagen synthesis and managing inflammation, Glycine proves to be more than just a simple amino acid.

Understanding and incorporating it into your daily routine can be a significant step towards achieving a healthier, more balanced lifestyle.

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By Aishani Rajarai

Aishani Rajarai is a scientific writer and neuroscience enthusiast. She holds a BSc in biochemistry and cell biology, and a minor in medicinal chemistry and chemical biology. Her mission at Avea is to bring the science of longevity through blog posts, newsletters, podcasts, and social media content to the public, so people can live a healthier, longer, and happier life.

Aishani Rajarai is a scientific writer and neuroscience enthusiast. She holds a BSc in biochemistry and cell biology, and a minor in medicinal chemistry and chemical biology. Her mission at Avea is to bring the science of longevity through blog posts, newsletters, podcasts, and social media content to the public, so people can live a healthier, longer, and happier life.