What Is Glycine Good For? Benefits and Properties

Glycine is a non-essential amino acid that provides important benefits to the body. What is it used for? What foods is it found in? Find out!
What Is Glycine Good For? Benefits and Properties
Saúl Sánchez Arias

Written and verified by the nutritionist Saúl Sánchez Arias.

Last update: 03 October, 2022

Glycine is used by our bodies to synthesize proteins. It’s present in foods such as fish, meat and dairy products. In addition, it has a number of health benefits, so it’s beneficial to include it in the diet on a frequent basis.

In fact, its intake in sufficient quantities is related to greater efficiency in the repair of physical injuries and lower incidence of neurodegenerative pathologies. Would you like to know more about it? Here are its main benefits and sources.

Glycine and osteoarthritis

First of all, it’s necessary to comment on the role of glycine in osteoarthritis. We’re talking about a common pathology, which affects almost half of the population over 65 years of age. It causes degeneration and joint pain.

It’s usually chronic and is treated by means of oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. However, these drugs have several harmful side effects, so it’s quite positive to reduce their use.

What has been shown is that glycine supplementation helps in the management of this disease and, incidentally, helps to reduce its progression. A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology confirms this.

However, most of the research on this subject has been carried out on animals. For this reason, they’re not fully extrapolable to humans. Further testing is therefore necessary to reach solid conclusions.

Similarly, optimizing other aspects of the diet will be crucial in order to successfully control the development of the disease. It isn’t only the total protein and collagen intake that matters, but also meeting the requirements of essential minerals on a daily basis.

In addition, staying physically active will make a difference. Muscle strength work will reduce the symptomatology of the problem.

A man with joint pain.
Optimal glycine intake has positive effects in the treatment of osteoarthritis.

Glycine and sleep

Some experts also recommend the use of glycine to improve sleep quality. It’s important to sleep a sufficient number of hours so that the repair processes that take place daily in the body can be carried out correctly.

In particular, glycine will facilitate the achievement of deep sleep, as it ensures that the body temperature is correct for this. According to research published in the Journal of Pharmacological Sciences, the intake of this amino acid is efficient in order to achieve a more restful sleep.

It can even have a synergistic effect with other supplements such as melatonin and tryptophan. Both improve the functioning of circadian rhythms, which allows optimal control of sleep and wakefulness phases.

Even so, it’ll be important to ensure a series of good habits related to sleep hygiene. For example, it isn’t advisable to be exposed to screens or to elements that emit blue light just before going to bed.

Otherwise, endogenous melatonin synthesis will be reduced, which could make it difficult to fall asleep or cause interruptions in rest. Going to bed early will also be a determining factor.

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Glycine-induced muscle repair

Another of the distinctive characteristics of glycine has to do with its role in stimulating the synthesis of collagen, the most abundant protein in the human body. An article published in the journal Amino Acids deals with this topic.

This element is responsible for providing contractility and elasticity to the muscles, thus ensuring that they can perform their functions optimally. When the supply of this amino acid is sufficient, it will stimulate muscle recovery processes, both effort-induced and injury-induced.

To this end, it will also be crucial to ensure the daily requirement of vitamin C, another nutrient involved in protein synthesis.

Foods with a high glycine content

As we have already mentioned, glycine is a non-essential amino acid. This means that the body can synthesize it by itself, even if it isn’t included in the diet in sufficient quantities.

However, some f oods are an important source. Ensuring its presence in the diet on a regular basis will have a positive impact on the state of health.

In general terms, pork and beef meat contain a good amount of glycine, as do foods from poultry and dairy products. Within the edibles of vegetable origin it would be necessary to make a special mention of the following options:

  • Beet
  • Carrot
  • Legumes
  • Mushrooms
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
Foods rich in glycine.
Legumes are an interesting source of glycine. Inaddition, they provide other nutrients beneficial to health.

We must now talk about the appropriate doses of glycine that you need to consume daily. It’s advisable to take at least 15 grams (0.6 oz) of this element per day. However, the body is capable of producing about 3 grams by itself from other amino acids.

In case of a deficit, one could resort to supplements of this element. Even so, it isn’t a frequent situation.

As for the maximum recommended dose, this is about 60 grams (2.2 oz) per day. If this amount is exceeded, certain alterations could be experienced in the central nervous system, which isn’t advisable.

Glycine, a very important non-essential amino acid

As we have mentioned, glycine is an amino acid that plays important roles in the human body. It’s found in various foods of animal origin and the body can synthesize a certain amount of it. Therefore, it’s rare to experience a deficiency. However, it’s possible to extract benefits from its supplementation.

In any case, it should be noted that when the objective is to maintain a good state of health in the medium term, it isn’t enough just to eat well. You will need to ensure you carry out a series of habits as a whole.

Among these, is the need to practice physical exercise on a regular basis. Above all, priority should be given to strength work, as this maintains homeostasis in the body and reduces internal inflammation.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Tu, Y., Wang, K., Liang, Y., Jia, X., Wang, L., Wan, J. B., Han, J., & He, C. (2019). Glycine tabacina ethanol extract ameliorates collagen-induced arthritis in rats via inhibiting pro-inflammatory cytokines and oxidation. Journal of ethnopharmacology237, 20–27. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2019.03.035
  • Bannai, M., & Kawai, N. (2012). New therapeutic strategy for amino acid medicine: glycine improves the quality of sleep. Journal of pharmacological sciences118(2), 145–148. https://doi.org/10.1254/jphs.11r04fm
  • Adeva-Andany, M., Souto-Adeva, G., Ameneiros-Rodríguez, E., Fernández-Fernández, C., Donapetry-García, C., & Domínguez-Montero, A. (2018). Insulin resistance and glycine metabolism in humans. Amino acids50(1), 11–27. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00726-017-2508-0

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.