Glycine is the simplest possible amino acid. It has a single hydrogen atom as its side chain. It is a colorless, sweet-tasting crystalline solid. It can fit in both hydrophilic and hydrophobic environments. It was first prepared by a French scientist, Henri Braconnot in 1820 and coined the term ‘ sugar of gelatin’ for glycine. Glycine acts as a precursor to proteins. It is an inhibitory neuron transmitter for our central nervous system (CNS).
In industrial scale, glycine can be obtained 2 ways. One method is to produce glycine using chloracetic acid and ammonium carbonate and the other using chloracetic acid and ammonia. The above two methods are widely used in the USA and in Japan for industrial scale glycine production. In our bodies, glycine is biosynthesized from amino acid serine.
Glycine is added in protein shakes and made as dietary supplements for food industry as it is believed to be an excellent mineral absorber in our body.
Glycine serves as a buffering agent in antacids, analgesics, antiperspirants, cosmetics, and toiletries. A variety of industrial and chemical processes use glycine or its derivatives, such as the production of fertilizers and metal complexing agents.
Glycine is used in animal and pet foods as a sweetener and as a taste enhancer. Benefits of glycine as feed additives are:
- Plays crucial role as neurotransmitter in the central nervous system
- Helps build the immune system
- Alters calcium ion levels to regulate immune function, production of superoxide, and synthesis of cytokines
- Facilitates conjugation of bile acids in pigs, and hence absorption and digestion of lipid soluble vitamins and lipids
- Helps with electrolyte regulation
- Muscle and cartilage formation and repair
Glycine is used in protein analysis. It serves as a buffering agent, maintaining pH and preventing sample damage during electrophoresis.
It is widely used as an intermediate of the medicine such as thiamphenicol, as an intermediate in the production of glyphosate, as a solvent for removing carbon dioxide (CO2) in the fertilizer industry, and as the galvanizing solution in electroplating.