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Vitamins, Minerals and Dietary Supplements

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Glycine

What is glycine? Why do we need it?

Glycine is a non-essential amino acid used by the body to build proteins. It is also considered the simplest amino acid because of its chemical structure. It is present in considerable amounts in prostate fluid. It is also an important building block in collagen.

Because glycine is abundant in prostate fluid, it is thought to play a role in the health and maintenance of the prostate gland. Studies have shown that glycine supplements, taken in combination with alanine and glutamic acid, may reduce the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia in men. Glycine also enhances the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain that are involved in memory and cognitive functions.

How much glycine should I take?

Because the body makes glycine naturally, most people do not have glycine deficiencies. Studies examining the role of glycine in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia used doses ranging from 390 milligrams to 780 milligrams per day.

What forms of glycine are available?

Glycine can be found in most foods that are high in protein, such as fish, meat, beans, and most dairy products. Glycine supplements can also be found at some nutrition stores.

What can happen if I take too much glycine? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

Because glycine is made naturally in the body, there have been no reported cases of glycine toxicity from taking large amounts of supplements. However, people with kidney or liver disease should not consume high amounts of amino acids without first consulting a licensed health care provider. In addition, patients taking clozapine or haloperidol should not take glycine supplements without consulting a licensed health care practitioner. As always, make sure to speak with a qualified health care professional before taking glycine or any other dietary supplement or herbal remedy.

References

  • Bechade C, Colin I, Kirsch J, et al. Expression of glycine receptor alpha subunits and gephyrin in cultured spinal neurons. European Journal of Neuroscience 1996;8:429-35.
  • Betz H. Structure and function of inhibitory glycine receptors. Quarterly Reviews in Biophysics 1992;25:381-94.
  • File SE, Fluck E, Fernandes C. Beneficial effects of glycine (Bioglycin) on memory and attention in young and middle-aged adults. J Clin Psychopharmacol 1999;19:506-12.
  • Pfeiffer F, Simler R, Grenningloh G. Monoclonal antibodies and peptide mapping reveal structural similarities between the subunits of the glycine receptor of rat spinal cord. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1984;81:7224-7.
  • Triller A, Cluzeaud F, Pfeiffer F, et al. Distribution of glycine receptors at central synapses: an immunoelectron microscopy study. Journal of Cell Biology 1985;101:683-8.

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