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Glycine and GABA: What Are They?

What is Glycine?

Glycine is an amino acid. This means that this compound is one of the essential building blocks used by your body to make protein. Your body produces glycine and several other amino acids on its own, but it’s also found in high-protein foods. In addition, you can get glycine from supplements. 

What is Glycine’s Role Within Your Body?

Below are the primary purposes served by glycine within your body. As you’ll find out, this amino acid is a vital nutrient!

Glycine may help you sleep. When taken as a supplement, glycine can be used to calm your mind and help you get the rest you need each night. If you’re dealing with nighttime stress or racing thoughts, taking a glycine supplement may help. 

Glycine helps your body create creatine. Creatine is a compound that helps your muscles function quickly and powerfully during physical exercise. Many weightlifters take a creatine supplement, which is often touted for its benefits for building muscle. Low levels of glycine are associated with insufficient creatine production in your body. Without enough creatine production, you may run into health problems.

Glycine is also the main amino acid used to produce collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body, making up the majority of your skin, bones, joints, teeth, and more. While there are multiple amino acids that comprise the structure of collagen, glycine is the most abundant.

Glycine is found in high-protein foods. The amino acid primarily comes from animal products, including meat, dairy, and eggs. It’s also found in gelatin. For vegans, some of the best plant-based sources of glycine are beans, nuts, whole grains, and seeds.

Supplementing with Glycine 

Taking glycine supplements is generally considered safe. The results of one study indicated that up to 90 grams of glycine via supplements can generally be safely taken without causing serious problems. 

However, most glycine supplements include animal-derived ingredients, making these supplements unfit for a vegan diet. While vegans can get glycine from numerous plant-based foods, you’ll most likely need to steer clear of glycine supplements if you adhere to a plant-based diet.

What is GABA?

GABA stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid. Like glycine, GABA is an amino acid. However, GABA acts as a neurotransmitter in your brain. 

Neurotransmitters like GABA serve important roles, communicating with the nervous system to help your body and mind maintain equilibrium. GABA’s primary purpose is to help to keep your nervous system from getting overactive in times of stress, helping to prevent stress from negatively impacting your physical and emotional health.

GABA produces a calming effect by binding to special proteins in your brain called GABA receptors. Increased GABA activity in your brain is associated with better sleep, less stress, and an overall calmer mind. In contrast, too much breakdown of GABA is linked with more stress and problems with sleep.

Gamma amino-butyric acid is naturally produced by your body, but it’s also found in numerous foods. In addition, you can take GABA as a supplement.

What Foods Contain GABA?

Below are some of the best dietary sources of gamma-aminobutyric acid.

  • Fish and seafood
  • Some nuts, especially walnuts
  • Soybeans
  • Mushrooms
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Eggs

GABA and Valerian Root

Valerian root is derived from a plant of the same name that is native to parts of Europe and Asia but is also grown in North America as well. For centuries, valerian has been used as a sleep aid in the parts of the world where it grows. It’s also often used for its calming, soothing effects. 

This relaxing herbal remedy primarily works by increasing GABA activity in the brain. Valerianic acid, one of the primary compounds in valerian root, has been found to have an inhibiting effect on the breakdown of GABA in your brain. 

While increased GABA breakdown can make you feel stressed and give you trouble sleeping, valerian root can help to calm your mind and get you settled down and ready for a good night’s sleep.

GABA and Exercise 

Exercise is one of the most important aspects of a comprehensive stress management routine. Getting regular exercise helps to increase the production of endorphins, hormones associated with feelings of calm and peace. In addition to boosting your endorphins, exercise also promotes GABA signaling. That means that moving your body each day can help to promote a calmer, happier mind.

Even if you’re not a big fan of hardcore working out, you can still reap the stress-fighting benefits of exercise. Just 30 minutes of walking each day can have a major impact on your stress levels and can also help to keep you physically in shape. If you don’t love walking, try to find a form of exercise that is fun for you – you might even want to consider taking a group exercise class if one is available to you!

While you can get GABA from food and supplements, adding exercise to your daily routine is another great way to promote gamma-aminobutyric acid activity in your brain. It’s also simply one of the best ways to take good care of yourself both physically and emotionally. 


GABA and glycine are two essential amino acids that serve important purposes in your body. While glycine helps to form creatine and collagen and can play a role in helping you sleep, GABA primarily acts as a neurotransmitter, keeping your nervous system activity balanced out. 

You can get both of these amino acids from both foods and supplements, but they’re also produced naturally by your body.

If you’re curious about supplementing with glycine and GABA, it’s always wise to consult your doctor before getting started. Your doctor can provide knowledgeable insight about whether these supplements are right for you. 

To learn more about stress defense ingredients like glycine and GABA, make sure to check out the R3SET blog. There, you’ll find a multitude of helpful articles about forming a healthy anti-stress routine, as well as the botanical ingredients included in our Calm and Unwind supplements.



Whole Body Creatine and Protein Kinetics in Healthy Men and Women: Effects of creatine and amino acid supplementation

HEGPOL: randomized, placebo controlled, multicenter, double-blind clinical trial to investigate hepatoprotective effects of glycine in the postoperative phase of liver transplantation [ISRCTN69350312]

The effect of exercise on GABA signaling pathway in the model of chemically induced seizures

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