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Glycine is a simple organic compound that consists of a single hydrogen atom to represent its side chain, making it the smallest protein amino acid.  Glycine does not exist in a chiral configuration, but is required for DNA and RNA construction in order for adequate cellular functioning.   It was first discovered in 1820, by French chemist and pharmacist named Henri Braconnot by boiling gelatin with sulfuric acid.  Industrially, glycine is formed by combining ammonia to chloroacetic acid in a reaction that also produces ammonium chloride as a by-product.


Glycine is found highly concentrated in the muscles as it aids in the development of muscle mass by promoting high levels of creatine in the body.  The skin and connective tissues also have a high percentage of glycine due to its composition in collagen.  Collagen provides firmness and flexibility to the skin and connective tissues.  In the absence of glycine, the body would be more susceptible to free radical damage, oxidation, and UV rays.  This amino is responsible for healing wounds and repairing damaged tissues.


The central nervous system contains inhibitory neurotransmitters of glycine, abundantly situated in the spinal cord, brainstem, and retina.  The activity of these neurotransmitters hinders the effects of seizure activity, hyperactivity, and bipolar depression.   It can also transform into serine neurotransmitters, which are responsive to schizophrenia.   Overall health and well-being are among few of the benefits provided by glycine.  Bile synthesis is regulated, to digest fats and gastric antacids so a healthy digestive system is maintained.  Studies are currently on-going to determine a correlation between glycine and cancer treatment.  Initial research has posed glycine a potential preventative to carcinogens and melanoma by inhibiting tumor growth in laboratory mice.


Natural foods that are high in protein, such as fish, meats, beans, and diary products are excellent sources for glycine.   Supplementation of glycine is also available in capsule and powder forms.  People with kidney or liver disease should consult with a medical professional prior to supplementing with glycine.


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