What Is an Amino Acid?
Did you know that super simple chemical compounds can be vital to life? The amino acid glycine is evidence of this fact. Amino acids are compounds that contain carbon and are very important to life. Glycine is the simplest of these amino acids and will be explained in detail later. Amino acid compounds are made up of an amine group, which is a nitrogen compound plus two hydrogens, and a carboxyl group, which is a carbon with two oxygen elements and a hydrogen, centered around a central carbon. This amine, carbon, and carboxyl group make up the backbone of an amino acid and is universally the same in all amino acids. It is the side chain or R group that makes each amino acid unique. There are 20 important amino acids that make up genetic code. Amino acids are broken into two very important groups:
- Essential amino acids: An amino acid that must be obtained in the food that is consumed because it cannot be made in the body.
- Non-essential amino acid: An amino acid that can be made in the body from other chemicals.
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Definition of Glycine
Glycine is one of the 20 amino acids important to life. Its chemical formula is C2H5NO2. When studying this amino acid, it might be common to refer to it as Gly or just G. It is the smallest of all amino acids and has a side chain of just a hydrogen molecule. This amino acid, in its purest form, is sweet in taste, is non-polar, and does not have a charge. Glycine is made in the body from the amino acid serine and is generally formed in the liver.
Why Is Glycine Important?
Glycine is important in the formation of proteins in the body. This amino acid, when repeated in large quantity, forms collagen. Collagen is the substance that holds connective tissue, like muscles, ligaments, nerves, and fat together. It is vital to forming the shape and general structure of life on planet earth. Glycine makes the long collagen protein flexible. It's this flexibility, that is associated with the non-polarity and hydrogen bonding ability of the molecule, that helps long proteins like collagen to pack into very small structures. Glycine in a protein allows for helical structure to occur, which shortens the protein.
Glycine is also used as a chemical in the body to send nerve messages to the spinal cord, brain, and eyes. Other applications of glycine include the enhancement of food flavor, use in cosmetics and deodorants, stomach medicine, and use in adhering metals to one another in industry.
Glycine is the smallest of 20 amino acids. It is non-essential and has a formula of C2H5NO2. This amino acid is vital in the production of proteins in all organisms. Glycine is made in the body from another amino acid called serine and is important in collagen production and neurotransmission. Additionally, it's used for enhancing food flavor, making cosmetics, and adhering metals together. If glycine was not present, many proteins that are vital to life would not be able to fold or function, resulting in the organism having poor health or not being present at all.
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Glycine: Formula, Structure & Benefits
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