L-Glycine (or simply Glycine) is a non-essential amino acid that can be produced from other chemicals, including the amino acids, Serine and Threonine. However, if already deficient in Serine levels, a non-essential amino acid itself, an increase in high-protein foods such as fish, eggs and legumes may be the best option to take. Structurally, glycine is the simplest type of amino acid as its side group contains only a single hydrogen atom, giving it the ability to fit in both hydrophilic and hydrophobic environments and having a very high solubility in water (between a fourth and third of glucose’s water solubility under room temperature).
Collagen is a protein that is a critical structural component of the skin, muscle and bone of animals (including humans) and is more than one-third glycine in its composition. It is suggested that at least 10 grams of collagen synthesis is needed on a daily basis and as glycine is collagen’s central component, the expected daily synthesis of 3 grams of glycine from one’s own body doesn’t seem to be enough. Therefore, it is reasonable to suggest substituting “semi-essential” for “non-essential” when labelling glycine.
Glycine was one of the first amino acids to be isolated from Gelatin in the early 19th century and is well-known for its sweet taste, which explains its modern use as a sweetener or taste enhancer. In fact, its discovery in 1820 was by Henri Braconnot, a French chemist and pharmacist. The product, glycine, was the result of Henri’s boiling of a gelatinous object with sulfuric acid.