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Glycine Supplement: Is This The Best Amino Acid for Gut Health, Sleep & Muscle?

In the world of dietary supplements, it seems like there’s always a new trend or super-ingredient everyone is talking about. But sometimes, the most powerful tools for our health (& for building that muscle) have been right in front of us all along. Today, we’re covering one of those – the glycine supplement, which we recently touched on in a gut health article but it does so much more!

Glycine is one of the non-essential amino acids, meaning our bodies naturally produce it. However, supplemental glycine can provide an extra health boost that goes beyond our body’s basic needs. From enhancing sleep quality to protecting our hearts and livers, this humble amino acid is a powerhouse of potential benefits – so, it might be time you included it in your health regime.

Throughout this guide, I’ll tell you about the many facets of glycine (a.k.a. its significance and potential role in your wellness journey.) By the end you’ll have a deeper appreciation for this mighty molecule and consider how it might benefit your own health and wellness.

But before we dive into these details, let’s cover the basics: What exactly is glycine, and why is it so important in our bodies? We’re jumping right in:

Understanding Glycine: The Basics

Our body is a complex machine and amino acids are the nuts and bolts that keep it running smoothly. They are the building blocks of proteins, which are vital for nearly every physiological process in our body. Glycine, in particular, is a non-essential amino acid, meaning our bodies can produce it on their own. However, ‘non-essential’ doesn’t mean it’s any less important for our health – quite the opposite!

Glycine is unique because it’s the smallest amino acid, yet it carries out some giant tasks in our bodies. It is used to help create muscle tissue, convert glucose into energy, produce antioxidants, and even helps our body’s ‘cleanup crew’ – the detoxification process.

So where does glycine come from naturally? Great question! Besides the amount synthesized by our bodies, we also get glycine from various dietary sources. It’s abundant in protein-rich foods like meat, fish, dairy, and legumes. You’ll actually also find it in some fruit and veggies like avocados, guava, and jackfruit.

But, if you’re looking for a health boost (or simply not eating enough protein sources to get your glycine), a supplement can also be helpful. Let’s cover the main benefits they offer and the scientific backing behind them:

Health Benefits of Glycine Supplements

As an amino acid, glycine’s first and most obvious benefit is it’s a component of protein. Without enough amino acids, you can’t build protein – and that’s especially important if you’re trying to build muscle (because muscle is protein). But, there are specific glycine benefits, too, and many are related to the type of protein this amino acid can build:

1. Enhancing Sleep Quality

Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the pillars of maintaining optimal health, yet it remains a struggle for many. Insomnia, frequent waking, and day-time sleepiness can significantly affect our productivity and overall quality of life. If that’s something you struggle with, glycine could potentially be your new bedtime buddy.

Studies have shown that taking around 3 grams of glycine before bed can not only decrease the time it takes to fall asleep but also improve the quality of your sleep. It works by lowering your body temperature – a natural signal for your body that it’s time to sleep – helping you drift off more quickly.

Consuming glycine before bed also has shown to reduce daytime sleepiness and enhance cognition. This means, with glycine, you may not just sleep better but also wake up feeling more refreshed and mentally sharp. So, if you’ve been counting sheep with little success, it might be time to consider glycine as a potential natural sleep aid.

2. Key Component of Glutathione

Next up on our exploration of glycine’s benefits is its vital role in the production of glutathione, often referred to as the body’s “master antioxidant”.

Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant produced in our cells. It’s involved in many processes in the body, including tissue building and repair, making chemicals and proteins needed in the body, and supporting the immune system. Most importantly, it helps combat oxidative stress, a major culprit behind aging and many diseases.

Glycine, along with two other amino acids – glutamate and cysteine, forms this antioxidant powerhouse. Supplementing with glycine can ensure our bodies have enough raw materials to produce glutathione efficiently, thereby potentially boosting our body’s antioxidant defense.

Studies have shown that glycine supplementation can enhance glutathione production, especially under conditions of oxidative stress. By providing an extra boost of glycine, we’re supporting our body’s natural defense mechanisms, thus contributing to overall wellness and disease prevention.

So, by taking supplemental glycine, you’re not just supporting your sleep but also helping fortify your body’s defense system. It’s truly a multifaceted amino acid

3. Building Blocks of Collagen

When you hear the word “collagen,” you might think of skincare and anti-aging creams. But this structural protein does a lot more than just keeping our skin youthful and wrinkle-free. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies, providing structure to our skin, bones, tendons, and other connective tissues.

Now, you might be wondering what collagen has to do with glycine. Here’s the connection: collagen’s structure is primarily composed of glycine. About every third to fourth amino acid in collagen is glycine, making it a crucial component in the creation and maintenance of healthy, robust collagen.

Supplementing with glycine can boost our body’s collagen production, leading to various benefits. These include improved skin health and wound healing, stronger bones and joints, and even better gut health.

Research suggests that glycine supplementation can promote the production of collagen in the body, aiding in faster wound healing and skin repair. That’s not all – it also contributes to the health of your bones and joints, making glycine an excellent supplement for those looking to enhance their overall physical wellbeing.

As we move to the next section, we’ll look at another major role that glycine plays – this time in muscle growth and physical performance. Stay tuned!

4. Stimulating Muscle Growth through Creatine

While glycine is a key player in collagen production and sleep regulation, it also flexes its muscles in another domain: muscle growth and athletic performance. The star of this show is creatine, a molecule found in our muscle cells, famous for its role in enhancing physical performance.

Creatine is produced in our bodies using three amino acids: arginine, methionine, and you guessed it – glycine. It’s known for its role in increasing muscle mass, strength, and exercise performance. By providing your body with additional glycine, you’re ensuring it has what it needs to synthesize creatine optimally.

Studies has demonstrated that creatine supplementation can support muscle volume and strength, as well as improve overall exercise performance. This makes glycine a valuable addition to the supplement regimen of athletes and those looking to optimize their physical performance.

Whether you’re an athlete looking for that extra edge in your performance or someone aiming to gain muscle strength, glycine could be a valuable ally in your journey. Then again, in this case, you can also just get a creatine supplement, which has been shown to have benefits for athletic performance.

5. Liver Protection

The liver plays a crucial role in detoxification, digestion, and nutrient storage. And, as we’re surrounded by toxins, our livers often work “overtime”. Supporting liver health is, therefore, an integral part of maintaining overall wellness, and that’s where glycine comes in.

Glycine seems to have some protective effects on the liver. It aids in the reduction of alcohol-induced liver damage and other forms of hepatotoxicity (hepatotoxicity is the term for liver damage). Glycine likely does this by modulating the inflammatory response and boosting the recovery process.

But there is an important disclaimer here: although promising, glycine’s liver health results are in animals only. Animal models are useful to test health interventions but they’re not 100% equivalent to humans. We still need more data to confirm glycine really has these positive effects for us (and not just for rats.)

6. Heart Protection

Glycine definitely seems like a multitasker, right? This next benefit underscores its role in heart health.

The heart, our body’s tireless engine, deserves all the protection we can provide. Given the prevalence of heart diseases, taking steps to support heart health is more crucial than ever. Emerging research suggests that glycine can be a strong ally in this effort.

Glycine has been found to have a protective role against heart damage. It helps in reducing high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease, by influencing certain signaling pathways in our body. Glycine also helps in reducing the oxidative stress in the heart, which can otherwise lead to heart damage. In some groups, higher glycine levels are associated with less heart disease.

Some studies also suggest that glycine can improve the metabolic profile, helping control factors like high blood sugar and high cholesterol, both of which are closely linked to heart health.

So by supplementing with glycine, you’re not just helping yourself sleep better or build stronger muscles, you could also be contributing to a healthier heart. But, just like with the liver benefits, the studies on glycine and heart health have predominantly been in mice and, well, we’re not just giant rats. We are not yet sure if this will translate in humans, but things are looking pretty promising.

7. Aiding in Type 2 Diabetes Management

As we traverse the versatile landscape of glycine’s health benefits, our next destination is its role in type 2 diabetes management.

Type 2 diabetes, a widespread health concern, occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin, resulting in high blood sugar levels. Interestingly, research suggests glycine can play a role in managing this condition.

Glycine has been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels by enhancing the body’s sensitivity to insulin. In other words, it helps the body respond more effectively to insulin, promoting healthier blood sugar levels.

Notably, research indicates that people with type 2 diabetes often have lower glycine levels, which bolsters the argument for glycine supplementation. By boosting your glycine levels, you may be helping your body maintain better control over blood sugar, a vital factor in managing diabetes and preventing its complications. Glycine can also help type 2 diabetes patients with immune response regulation, reducing inflammation and boosting interferon gamma.

Adding glycine to your dietary regimen can therefore potentially be a part of a multifaceted approach to managing type 2 diabetes, alongside other lifestyle changes and medical treatments.

Up next, we’ll discuss the final benefit in our list: how glycine may assist in rebuilding a damaged intestinal lining and support gut health. Stay tuned!

8. Benefitting Gut Health

Our exploration of glycine’s health benefits leads us to our final destination: the gut. You might be surprised to learn that glycine can have a substantial impact on your gut health.

The gut plays a crucial role in maintaining our overall health. A healthy gut aids digestion, supports immune function, and even influences mood and mental health. Part of maintaining a healthy gut involves ensuring the integrity of the intestinal lining, which serves as a barrier against harmful substances.

In situations where the intestinal lining is damaged, such as in conditions like leaky gut syndrome, glycine can lend a helping hand. This amino acid plays a crucial role in the regeneration and health of the gut lining.

Research shows that glycine can aid in repairing a damaged intestinal lining and reducing inflammation in the gut. By supporting the integrity of the intestinal barrier, glycine can help maintain a healthy gut, which in turn contributes to overall health and wellbeing.

From enhancing sleep to supporting muscle growth, protecting vital organs, managing blood sugar, and benefitting gut health, glycine truly proves itself as a health-promoting powerhouse. Whether you’re looking to enhance your sleep, support your physical performance, or maintain your general health, glycine supplementation could be a beneficial addition to your health regimen.

How to Use Glycine Supplements

Now that we’ve delved into the many health benefits of glycine, you may be wondering how to incorporate this amino acid into your routine. Let’s look at some of the most common ways to use glycine supplements effectively and safely.

Glycine supplements are typically available in powder or capsule form (personally, I prefer powder as it’s easier to incorporate into smoothies and other recipes). The recommended dosage is on the bottle so follow that, but here are some additional ballparks:

  • For improving sleep quality: Studies suggest that taking 3 grams of glycine before bedtime can help improve sleep quality.
  • For enhancing physical performance: Dosages for this purpose can vary, and it’s best to follow the instructions provided on your specific creatine supplement, as it’s often included as part of a blend. If you’re using glycine or creatine as a part of your pre-workout be extra careful with the dosage. Pre-workout is often packed with caffeine and taking too much can make you jittery or even cause heart palpitations.
  • For general health benefits: A daily glycine intake of around 3-5 grams can be sufficient for general health purposes.

Remember, before starting any new supplement regimen, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider. If you’re pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition, or are taking any medications this becomes a must, even for relatively safer supplements like glycine. This blog (or any content on the internet) can’t replace your doctor’s personalised medical advice and is not medical advice to begin with. Take care of yourself – talk to a specialist first.

Potential Side Effects and Precautions

While the benefits of glycine supplementation are great, you do have to keep the potential side effects and precautions in mind. As I mentioned, glycine is generally considered safe for most people when used appropriately. However, some people may experience minor side effects (most of them gastrointestinal), including:

  • Stomach upset
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Soft stools

Remember, everyone’s body reacts differently to supplements, and what works well for one person may not work the same for another.

Very important: if you’re currently taking any medication, particularly clozapine (an antipsychotic medication), it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before starting glycine. This is because glycine may actually affect clozapine’s effectiveness and that could have huge negative consequences

And (sorry to be a broken record here) once again, if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a chronic health condition, always speak with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen, including glycine.

Alternatives to Glycine Supplements

While glycine supplements can be a convenient and effective way to reap the benefits of this versatile amino acid, they’re not the only option. If supplements aren’t your preferred choice or if you’re looking for ways to complement your glycine supplementation, consider these alternatives:


Glycine is found naturally in a variety of foods, especially high-protein ones. Incorporating these into your diet can boost your glycine intake. Good sources include:

  • Meat, particularly skin and connective tissues (that’s why bone broth is the perfect source; try a homemade low-sodium bone broth for the healthiest option)
  • Fish
  • Dairy products
  • Legumes
  • Soy products (look for less processed options like edamame beans over highly processed soy-based fake meats for example)

Bone Broth

Bone broth, made by simmering animal bones and connective tissue, is an excellent natural source of glycine. Not only is it warm and comforting, but it’s also a solid way to increase your intake of this beneficial amino acid.

Collagen Supplements

Because collagen is largely composed of glycine, a collagen supplement is by definition rich in glycine, too. Taking a collagen supplement not only provides glycine but also other amino acids that are beneficial for skin, joint, and bone health. And, there could be an absorption benefit, too. Since glycine by itself competes for absorption with other amino acids, supplementing it alone is likely less effective than taking a collagen supplement.

Balanced Amino Acid Supplements

Supplements that provide a balanced blend of essential amino acids, including glycine, can be a good option. They can ensure you’re getting a well-rounded array of the amino acids your body needs. This could be a very good option for athletes or if you’re just trying to build some extra muscle mass.

For most people, however, getting your amino acids from food is still usually the better call. And, even if you are taking an amino acid supplement, that doesn’t mean you get to be less careful with your diet. While supplements and dietary sources can provide you with beneficial glycine, it’s always important to maintain a balanced diet and lifestyle for overall health and well-being.


Well, this was a very detailed exploration of glycine and its many benefit – and it sure shows that this humble amino acid plays an exciting and very promising role in promoting health and well-being. From enhancing sleep and supporting muscle growth, to protecting vital organs, assisting with blood sugar management, and boosting gut health, glycine truly stands as a multifaceted contributor to our health.

While glycine supplements can be an effective way to harness these benefits, they aren’t the only avenue. Incorporating glycine-rich foods into your diet or opting for alternatives like bone broth, collagen supplements, or balanced amino acid supplements can also help you optimize your glycine intake.

As always, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen. Glycine, like any supplement, should be used as part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle.

I hope this guide has provided you with a clear understanding of glycine’s many benefits and how to effectively and safely incorporate it into your routine. Remember, the journey to health is always a personal one—listen to your body and choose the path that best supports your unique needs and goals. To your health!

What is glycine supplement used for?

You can supplement 3g of glycine before bed for better sleep. It can also help with oxidative stress, blood sugar control, gut health, and more.

Can I take glycine everyday?

Yes, glycine is safe to take daily for most people. But, before you begin a new supplement, make sure you talk to your doctor about any personalised tips or reasons it might be unsafe for you specifically.

What are the negative side effects of glycine?

Glycine is relatively safe but a small number of people still experience negative effects. For the most part, they’re gastrointestinal symptoms – upset stomach, nausea, vomiting in more extreme cases. If you’re not feeling well after taking glycine, stop the supplement and talk to your doctor if the symptoms won’t go away.

When should I take glycine supplements?

Since glycine can help with sleep quality, it’s best to take it before bed.

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