Glycine: The Secret to Better Sleep, Less Stress & Glowing Skin
Written by Allie Baker, wellness writer
Written by Allie Baker
Wellness, spirituality, lifestyle expert and writer
One of the secrets to supporting sleep, busting stress, and looking younger is an amino acid you may not know… yet. Meet glycine. It’s the smallest amino acid in the body, yet it plays a big role in enhancing your holistic health. We’re breaking down everything you need to know about glycine — what it is, how it’s connected to collagen, and all its science-backed benefits for your body and mind.
What is glycine?
Glycine is one of many amino acids, which are compounds our body uses to make protein. Glycine stands out from the crowd because it's an essential building block for our muscles, tissues, and hormones. Your body naturally produces glycine from other amino acids, but it’s also found in protein-packed foods and supplements like collagen (more on that in a minute...).
“Glycine plays various roles in health and aging. Glycine has been shown to extend lifespan in different species in humans. Higher glycine levels are associated with heart health, combating inflammation at the cellular level, and supporting glucose metabolism,” says Dr. Mani Kukreja, MD, the founder of LivAgeWell, an integrative health and wellness coaching practice. “Glycine is one of the supplements that's been really well studied, and it helps in areas where I see a lot of issues in our society.”
A building block of collagen
Before we talk more about what glycine does for the body, let’s explore where it’s found. The short answer: in collagen.
“Collagen is a type of protein found mainly in bones, tendons, ligaments, skin, and other connective tissues,” Dr. Kukreja explains. “Collagen consists of amino acids woven together to form a triple helix.
”One of these amino acids — in fact, the main and most abundant amino acid — is glycine. Says Dr. Kukreja, “One third of collagen is composed of glycine.” It is an integral building block in the collagen helix. Research shows that since glycine is the smallest amino acid, it allows the chain to form a tight configuration, and it can withstand stress.
The best news: because glycine is found in collagen, you’re already getting it in your Sparkle collagen powders.
Rest assured, glycine promotes deep, high quality sleep. “Glycine acts as a brain neurotransmitter in a similar way to GABA,” says Dr. Kukreja. (GABA, which stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid, is known to have a soothing effect and support sleep.) “Glycine is released with GABA to calm parts of the central nervous system,” she continues. “Supplementing with glycine can improve sleep quality, lessen daytime sleepiness, and improve the performance of memory recognition tasks.”
A recent study found that glycine triggered a drop in body temperature, which helped people fall asleep faster and spend more time in REM sleep. Plus, “it helps you move more quickly into a deep, slow delta wave sleep,” adds Dr. Kukreja.
Glycine can help soothe stress and bring on serenity. “It calms down the central nervous system and helps stimulate its parasympathetic mode,” Dr. Kukreja explains. The parasympathetic nervous system is the “rest and digest” system that relaxes your body after periods of stress.
Dr. Kukreja also notes that studies suggest glycine may help people with anxiety disorders and OCD.
Supports gut health
Just as glycine soothes the mind, it soothes the gut. Because glycine activates the “rest and digest” system, it literally helps you digest. “It calms gut inflammation,” Dr. Kukreja says. “People who get adequate amounts of glycine have reported that their leaky gut syndrome, symptoms of SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome get substantially better.”
Fights aging and wrinkles
You can’t turn back time, but glycine may help you look like you did. “The reason that, as we get older, our skin gets wrinkly and droopy is because our collagen loses its elasticity. We don't have as much collagen as we used to,” points out Dr. Kukreja. “There's some research showing that getting good sources of collagen — of which a major component is glycine — really helps to make fine lines and wrinkles get less noticeable.”
In one study, 114 women between the ages of 45 and 65 consumed a daily dose of VERISOL®, the bioactive collagen peptide in Sparkle Skin Boost. Their wrinkles reduced significantly, and the collagen in their skin increased by 60% in four weeks.
Glycine is a multitasker. In addition to being the primary amino acid in collagen, it’s alsoone of the building blocks of glutathione. “Glutathione is a valuable antioxidant that isused to prevent cellular damage and reduce the signs of aging,” says Dr. Kukreja. “It scavenges for free radicals throughout the body and recharges other antioxidants, thuspreventing chronic diseases and inflammation.”
Yet another important job: glycine helps create creatine, an amino acid that enhances muscle growth. Studies show that creatine, in combination with exercise, is effective at augmenting workouts and increasing muscular strength and lean body mass.
To step it up even more, try our Muscle Boost. It's made with BODYBALANCE collagen peptides, which not only deliver glycine, but have been shown to improve strength, decrease waist circumference, and reduce fat mass.
Keeps bones and joints strong
Because it’s a building block of creatine, glycine “is going to help keep your bones as strong as they can possibly be,” says Dr. Kukreja. “It's also going to bolster your joint health by helping to keep cartilage, tendons, and ligaments strong, and to help repair them as quickly as possible.”
Sparkle Joint Boost — made with FORTIGEL and TENDOFORTE collagen peptides — has been found to help strengthen ligaments and replenish cartilage and tendons.
Get your glycine
Want all these perks? The simplest way to get more glycine in your diet is through supplementing with collagen. All of Sparkle’s collagen powders — including Skin Boost, Muscle Boost, Joint Boost, and Osteo Boost — are rich sources of glycine. Stock up here.