Glycine is the simplest and smallest amino acid and is the only amino acid in human nutrition that does not show chirality. Glycine plays a number of important roles in human metabolism, including as a substrate for the cellular antioxidant glutathione. Glycine has a number of physiological effects that include anti-inflammatory, cytoprotective and immunomodulatory effects, and as such it can affect a number of physiological systems and modulate the course of a number of diseases. One important brain function of glycine is its ability to bind partially to the N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor. This may be important in reducing the excitability of the brain, and by binding in this way, glycine may protect NMDA receipts from becoming overstimulated by other agonists. Normal blood levels of glycine in humans are around 300 micromolar, but ingesting glycine can increase blood levels to 900 micromolar. Studies suggest that high intakes of glycine are safe, but it is not clear how much is required to benefit health. 

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Pérez-Torres, I., María Zuniga-Munoz, A. and Guarner-Lans, V. 2017. Beneficial effects of the amino acid glycine. Mini reviews in medicinal chemistry. 17(1): 15-32

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Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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