? What are amino acids?
Amino acid are defined as simple organic compounds which contain amine and carboxylic group as their functional side chains. The basic elements of amino acids are nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen and carbon. Amino acids are considered as building blocks of proteins which combine together to form proteins. Proteins play important role in chemical and biological processes of our body and are essential part of cells. Amino acids play their role in the repairing of tissues, in skin, muscles, in healing of wounds, hair and removal of various waste product which are produced as a by-product of certain metabolic processes.
? Classification of amino acids:
Amino acids can be classified into three groups:-
o Essential Amino Acids:
Amino acids that are not synthesized by body and are required from diet that we eat are called essential amino acids. Such as
o Non-essential Amino Acids:
Amino acids that are produced by our body even if they are not taken externally from the diet are called non-essential amino acids. Such as
Aspartic acid
o Semi-essential Amino Acids:
Amino acids that have to be consumed from diet under certain circumstances to prevent the use of essential amino acids are called semi-essential amino acids which include:
About 22 amino acids are present in human body. Amino acids are building blocks of proteins. These amino acids are important for functions of body and manufacturing of proteins. Among all these amino acids glycine is the simplest and smallest amino acid present in our body. Glycine contains simplest hydrogen atom which forms its side chain. It is symbolized or abbreviated as Gly or G and has chemical formula as (NH2-CH2-COOH). It is most widely spread amino acid present in human proteins and enzymes. In liver, glycine is formed from serine and threonine which are also amino acids. Behaving as a solid glycine is a sweet crystalline substance and in sugar cane it is the principle amino acid. In human body, glycine is present in high concentrations in connective tissues, skin and muscles.
Sources of Glycine:-
As glycine is non-essential amino acid because it can be prepared by chemicals present in our body. Glycine can also be obtained from food which are high in protein contents. For example, dairy products, fish and meat are rich sources of glycine.
Vegetables also contain glycine which includes beans, spinach, cauliflower, cabbage, cucumber, soybeans, pumpkin, kale, kiwi fruit and banana.
Glycine is also taken as supplement in the form of powder or capsules. These supplements help in medical conditions such as poor memory, stroke, prostate problem and schizophrenia. Some supplements can be helpful in treatment of diseases like anemia, hypoglycaemia and chronic fatigue syndrome. These supplements also boost the energy level of body.
Uses of Glycine:-
Glycine has several important roles in body. It is necessary for production of different acids including bile acid, creatine phosphate and nucleic acid. It is used by body for support and regulation of essential processes. This amino acid is necessary one for the healthy digestive system, it helps to regulate the production of bile acid which is used in digestion of fats. It also functions as inhibitory neurotransmitter in central nervous system (CNS) especially in retina, spinal cord and brainstem. It also provides protection to cancer causing agents by the use of antioxidants. It is also involved in synthesis of Heme which the major component of haemoglobin, oxygen carrying protein present in red blood cells.
? Muscle Growth
In body glycine is used to synthesize creatine which helps to build muscle tissue and strength and provides muscles with direct source of energy. So glycine is essential for athletes desiring to enhance their muscle performance and mass. It helps to prevent muscle wasting and helpful for patients recovering from any surgery.
? Regulation of Hormones
This amino acid is methylated to dimethylglycine (DMG) which play a role in one-carbon pathway that is necessary for production of steroids like estrogen and androgen hormones. It also regulates the secretion of growth hormone.
? Repairing of Tissues
Glycine makes approximately one-third portion of collagen that is essential protein used by body to keep the skin and connective tissues firm and flexible. However in the absence of glycine body cannot repair damaged tissues. Glycine is an important anti-aging amino acid.
? Blood sugar regulation
Glycine helps in blood sugar regulation through conversion of glucose to energy. Therefore scientist have found it to use glycine to improve long-term blood sugar level for patients suffering from type 2 diabetes. It is also recommended as sugar supplement for diabetics because it is sweet in taste.
? Treatment of Cancer
This amino acid may have a role in treatment cancer. It prevents the formation of cancer melanoma. Studies revealed that dietary glycine stops the growth of cancerous tumors.
? Mental Health
Glycine acts as neurotransmitter in central nervous system. It functions especially in brain and spinal cord where it helps in conduction of nerve impulses. It is also used in treatment of epilepsy, schizophrenia, bipolar and hyperactivity.
Other uses of glycine
Glycine is also used in beverages and food products as a sweetener and taste enhancer. Many commercial applications use this amino acid in its synthetic version produced by use of ammonia to treat chloroacetic acid. It is used as buffering agent in cosmetics, agricultural fertilizers and antacids.
Diseases caused by high level of glycine:
o Glycine Encephalopathy
It is inherited disease which is characterized by high level of glycine. Glycine encephalophaty is caused by deficiency of enzyme that breaks glycine, this is resulted by changes in genes. Diagnosis of disease is based on the deficiency of enzyme, genetic testing and high levels of glycine. It can be treated by reducing glycine level using sodium benzoate, N-methyl-D-aspartate and anti-seizure drugs. In classic form babies die in few week whereas survivors have seizures, small head and stiffness. In transient form patient can improve symptoms.
o Glycinuria
This disease is characterized by excess of urinary secretion of glycine. It is autosomal disease which is caused by defect in renal tubular secretion of glycine. Clinically it has tendency to form oxalate stones in kidney.
Glycine Deficiency
Glycine deficiency is uncommon however, its deficiency can occur in individuals with diseases such as AIDS and cancer or individuals that are malnourished. Individuals that suffer from low energy level, fatigue or digestive disorder also have inadequate amount of this amino acid in their bodies.
Commercial production of glycine
Glycine can be obtained in three ways:
? It can be produced by reaction of chloroethanoic acid with ammonia. In cold temperatures it requires couple of days for formation of glycine.
? Another method is classical Strecker synthesis. In this method methanal is treated with aqueous ammonia and KCN, which forms a-aminoalcohol as an intermediate and then amine which is converted to nitrile. It can be hydrolyzed by dilute mineral acid to produce amino acid.
? Third method is Miller Urey method in which the mixture of methane, hydrogen, water vapor and ammonia was applied and it had an electric discharge. Glycine was obtained by paper chromatography and after a week liquid turned brown and number of other amino acids were also detected. But glycine was the principal amino acid of this method.
Use of glycine as supplement
To improve sleep quality:
Intake of glycine helps to enhance sleep quality and function better even with less sleep. 3g of glycine are given before sleep which improves the liveliness, fatigue and clear headedness.
Improves skin:
Women take 2.5g of collagen peptide which reduces their eye wrinkles and improve skin. Glycine increases the speed to heal skin ulcers. It also heals the wounds in diabetes. It is also applied to leg ulcers which increases wound healing and decreases pain.
Helps mental illness:
Glycine reduces the symptoms of OCD and has positive effects when used in the treatment of obsessive-impulsive disorder.