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Health Benefits Of Glycine

Glycine is a non-essential amino acid which is used in the creation of muscle tissue and the conversion of glucose into energy. It also aids in the functioning of the digestive system and helps in maintaining the health of the central nervous system. Recent studies have shown that glycine, with the help of antioxidants, helps to protect the body from cancer.

Here’s a look at some of the many health benefits of glycine:
  • All amino acids have a vital role to play in the functioning of the central nervous system. Glycine functions as an inhibitory neurotransmitter and hence works well in treating conditions such as epilepsy, hyperactivity and bipolar depression.
    In a study on the use of glycine for anxiety, injections containing glycine were administered to the gray matter of the brain in animal subjects. The results showed reduced anxiety levels. In another study, adults who received glycine doses daily showed an improvement in symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder, an anxiety-related disorder.
  • Some studies have shown that amino acids like glycine may help to reduce the occurrence of asthma attacks.
  • Imbalances of glycine and another amino acid neurotransmitter, glutamate, may be a trigger for autism, according to some researchers.
  • Glycine supplements may help to increase attention and improve focus in children and adults who suffer from ADHD and other hyperactivity problems. Glycine enhances memory and mood and hence may be an effective treatment for such behavioral issues.
  • Glycine was found to restrict the growth of tumors in rats by blocking the formation of new blood vessels that may feed the tumors.
  • Due to its neuro-inhibitory effect, glycine calms the brain and is thus helpful in treating depression and anxiety. Glycine also helps in supplying glucose to the body and thus helps to alleviate fatigue and listlessness that often accompanies depressive disorders.
  • Glycine may help in reducing swelling of the prostate gland. Studies on glycine for prostatitis have shown that when taken in combination with alanine and glutamic acid, glycine helps in treating swollen prostate tissue.
  • Some health experts recommend glycine for psychosis. High doses of the amino acid help to alleviate psychosis and other symptoms of schizophrenia. Recent studies have shown that symptoms such as disinterest and avoidance of activities in people, reduced when the levels of glycine increased in the body.
  • Intake of glycine supplements helps to bring about considerable improvement in back pain. One of the reasons of back pain could be inadequate intake of glycine through the diet. Glycine also serves as an inhibitory neurotransmitter and thus induces a feeling of calmness. Glycine also promotes collage growth and release of the growth hormone, both of which aid in wound healing.   
  • Amino acid supplementation is known to help in bodybuilding since it aids in muscle growth. The best time to take amino acids is soon after training when the muscles receive nutrients easily. Blood flow to the muscles also improves.
  • Adequate doses of glycine help to regulate the levels of blood sugar in the body thus ensuring healthy metabolism.
Stomach Issues: Glycine is composed of amino and hydroxyl ions which have an antacid effect and help to relieve an upset stomach. The liver plays a key role in detoxification of the body through various chemical reactions. During this process of liver detox, glycine and certain other substances bind to toxins and aid in their removal from the body.

Sleep Disorders: Glycine is known to have a calming effect on the mind and plays an important role in the proper functioning of the nervous system. There are many studies that highlight the effectiveness of glycine for insomnia. Three grams of glycine taken before bedtime may help to promote better sleep. It can also improve the quality of sleep and reduce sleepiness during the day.

Skin Problems: Since glycine helps in the growth of collagen, it may also help to maintain skin health and aid in relieving skin conditions such as eczema.

Glycine Supplements

Glycine has many positive effects on health. You can get a substantial amount of glycine from protein-high foods such as fish, beans, meat and dairy products. If you are unable to get enough glycine through the diet, your doctor may recommend glycine supplements. Glycine is available in the form of capsules or powder. The powder is sweet to taste and hence can even be used to mildly sweeten foods and beverages. Adding just one gram of glycine to the daily diet helps to alleviate aching muscles, slow metabolism and low energy levels. In individuals with schizophrenia, a daily intake of about 90 grams of glycine is usually prescribed.

Side Effects Of Glycine

Like any other supplement, glycine too may trigger certain side effects. Some of the side effects which are often reported after intake of glycine supplements include nausea, vomiting, slight drowsiness and mild digestive problems. Some of the less common side effects which are, however, more serious include aggravation of schizophrenia symptoms especially if glycine is taken along with certain other schizophrenia medications and symptoms of an allergy such as wheezing, skin rash, itching, swelling of the mouth, swallowing difficulties and problems in breathing.

Is Glycine Safe For Use During Pregnancy?

The answer to this question is yet unknown. There is no definite research on whether glycine can be safely used by pregnant women. Since glycine is an amino acid which is found naturally in the human body and also present in many foods, it may be safe during pregnancy. However this may apply only to the dietary intake of glycine. Since all medications and supplements carry a risk of side effects and health complications, glycine supplements should be used with caution. It is possible that higher levels of glycine, which are present in supplements, will lead to certain problems. It is also possible that there is some variation in the glycine present in foods and the glycine present in supplements. Another possibility is that there may be some additional ingredients or contaminants present in the supplements which may not be safe for use by pregnant women. It is, therefore, advisable to consult a doctor before using glycine supplements in pregnancy. It is also advisable to seek a doctor’s advice before making any significant changes in the diet such as increasing the consumption of glycine-rich foods.

Information & Facts

  • Glycine is termed a ‘non-essential’ amino acid, but it provides several important health benefits.
  • The amino acid works as an inhibitory neurotransmitter and helps to prevent epileptic seizures.
  • Glycine may be used to treat psychological conditions like manic depression.
  • Glycine is present in all bodily cells, but is found in higher levels in the prostate gland. Therefore it may help in maintaining prostate health.
  • Glycine plays an important role in various biochemical processes of the body which help to produce energy.
  • Glycine is one of the ingredients in many protein-rich foods like meat, fish, milk and beans. It is also available in the form of supplements as powder or capsules. A glycine supplement is not known to cause any toxic effects, but some individuals have complained of a stomach upset after taking it.
Submitted on January 17, 2014