Structurally the simplest of the amino acids, glycine is helpful in the supplemental role as it retards degeneration in the muscles by supplying additional creatine to the body. It is not needed in the diet. Glycine is very abundant in the proteins of muscle tissues, and which is a vital amino acid of the DNA and RNA associated proteins. Beside forming a major amino acid component of proteins associated with the nucleic acids, as well as helping form the bile acids – it is also a precursor molecule for other amino acids. Glycine is utilized in the manufacture of many gastric antacids. Glycine is a vital component of proteins that form the skin and connective tissues, the proteins in this part of the body contain abundant amounts of this particular amino acid. Glycine supplements are very useful in repairing damaged tissues as well as in hastening and promoting the level of healing in the skin and connective tissues.
The functioning of the central nervous system and the health of the prostate gland also require the presence of glycine in sufficient amounts. Glycine functions like an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain and central nervous system and can aid in the prevention of epileptic seizures. The treatment of manic (bipolar) depression has also been carried out using supplemental glycine; in addition, supplements of glycine are also useful in the treatment of hyperactivity affected individuals.
Physical fatigue can ensue if there is too much of glycine in the body, while the proper amount produces more usable energy and is helpful in sustained metabolism. Glycine can also undergo conversion into the amino acid serine in the body if necessary.
The body synthesizes proteins from glycine and other amino acids. In the free form, glycine is found in significant amounts in the fluid of the prostate gland. One possible role played by free glycine may be in the maintenance of the health of the prostate gland. This belief in the beneficial effects of glycine over the working of the prostate gland has been based on the results of a study involving forty five men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). In the study it was discovered that taking 780 mg of glycine every day for two weeks, followed up with 390 mg in the next two and a half months, accompanied by equal doses of the amino acids alanine and glutamic acid, was able to lead to a great reduction in the physical symptoms induced by the condition.
The treatment of some disorders involving low pH in the blood – called acidemia, especially those caused by the presence of an imbalance in leucine is treated using glycine supplements, such disorders are indicated by symptoms like bad breath and persistent strong body odor. Glycine supplements also tend to improve impaired pituitary gland functioning in people with problematic pituitary functioning. Glycine is involved in the production of creatine, and is helpful in aiding the treatment of muscular dystrophy. Glycine is also a major component of certain gastric antacid drugs and is thus extensively used in the treatment of gastric hyperacidity in individuals affected by such disorders. Glycine is also very useful in treating problems like hypoglycemia, and aids in stimulating the production of the glucose hormone glucagon. This hormone activates and regulates the release of glycogen stored in the liver into the blood stream as the energy sugar glucose.
Food sources which are rich in protein, such as fish, all kinds of meats, beans and dairy products are rich in glycine as well as the other essential and non-essential amino acids.
Glycine deficiency affects very few people; this is partly due to the fact that glycine is not essential in the diet and dues to the fact that the body produces its own supply of most of the non-essential amino acids from precursor molecules.
Supplements of glycine are not required by healthy people. Supplemental glycine must be taken only under the supervision of a nutritionally oriented physician and such supplementation should only be done to support the body during serious disorders.
Side effects and cautions
Studies carried out on glycine have not come out with any clear toxicity associated with the use of glycine. High levels of amino acids must never be consumed by individuals affected by kidney or liver disease except after consulting a qualified health care professional, familiar with such conditions.
Glycine in the right amounts can bring increased energy to the body; excess amounts present in the body can cause physical fatigue.