Glycine is a protein building block – helping your body form and repair collagen, the tissue that makes up our skin, joints, and muscles.
But this sweet-tasting amino acid does so much more than make you stronger. In fact, glycine plays an important role in an array of physiological and neurological functions – from improving sleep and moods to maintaining gut health.1
What is Glycine, Exactly?
Glycine gets its name from the Greek word “glykys,” which means sweet – think “glucose.”2 One of 26 amino acids, glycine represents 11.5% of the total amino acid content in the human body. Your body uses roughly 80% of its glycine supply for protein synthesis.
Found in protein-rich foods like meat, eggs, lentils, and dairy, glycine is considered a nonessential amino acid because the body can make glycine in small amounts if it doesn’t get enough from food sources. But the benefits of getting ample amounts of glycine – whether through diet or supplementation – are considerable.
Specifically, glycine has been shown to:
- Prevent tissue injury
- Enhance antioxidant capacity
- Promote protein synthesis and wound healing
- Support healthy immune function
- Improve sleep quality3
Glycine is also involved in modulating growth through the regulation of growth hormone (GH) synthesis; improving muscle tone; delaying muscular degeneration; promoting gut health; and protecting the intestine against the harmful effects of radiotherapy in cancer treatment.4
The human body requires 2g of glycine per day.5 Supplementing with glycine can help you take advantage of the many ways this sweet-tasting amino acid supports your health.
Five Ways Glycine Supports Your Health
#1 - Improving Sleep Quality
Supplementing with glycine before bed has been found to shorten the time to fall asleep, increase deep sleep stages, and decrease daytime drowsiness. This leads to improvements in fatigue and feeling rested after waking from sleep.6 By enhancing sleep, glycine may also improve cognitive performance, stress resilience, and psychiatric disorders related to sleep disruption; its calming effects may support mental health overall.7
Glycine also plays an important role in the mechanism of pain transmission.8 As an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, glycine may help reduce subjective pain levels, allowing people experiencing pain to get more restful and sustained sleep.
#2 - Balancing Moods
Glycine acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, helping modulate (slow down and calm) excitatory signaling that can come from excess sympathetic nervous system stimulation – a common experience in our modern, high-stimulus world. By modulating this signaling, glycine can support more balanced moods and emotions. And as mentioned above, reducing pain signaling can lead to improvements in one’s overall mood and well-being.
#3 - Supporting a Healthy Inflammatory Response
Inflammation is a significant function of our immunological defenses and is also involved in the pathology of metabolic disorders. Glycine has been shown to promote a healthy inflammatory response by reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines and increasing anti-inflammatory cytokines.9
#4 - Supporting Antioxidant Activity
Glycine is a building block of glutathione (along with cysteine and glutamine), which is our main detoxification molecule in the liver. It plays a significant role in protecting cellular molecules from free radicals by directly quelching these free radicals.10
#5 - Promoting and Maintaining Gut Health
Due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and its ability to promote collagen synthesis and aid tissue repair, glycine may offer significant benefits to the intestinal tract.11 While preliminary, research suggests that glycine may support the health of the gastrointestinal tract and the intestinal barrier by maintaining the thickness of the intestinal wall and the surface of the intestinal epithelium.12
A Sweet Supplement to Add
We live in an environment that increases our chances of toxic burden, oxidative stress, and inflammation. Making sure you get enough glycine can help you better deal with these stressors. Glycine’s pleasant taste may also make supplementing with this important amino acid that much sweeter.
For an easy way to supplement with glycine,
check out our delicious G.I. InnerCalm gut powder.