MagTech’smagnesium glycinate is a high bioavailability form of magnesium supplementation in which the essential metal ion is chelated to the amino acid glycine. The amino acid allows it to be easily absorbed from the intestinal tract and to be quickly distributed to cells. Apart from the obvious advantages of good absorption chelating magnesium to glycine this form of magnesium supplementation is well tolerated and does not have the unpleasant laxative side effect of inorganic magnesium salts such as magnesium sulphate.

Glycine is structurally the simplest amino acid, and is used as a building block during the synthesis of proteins. It is the second most common amino acid in proteins, and also necessary to create biochemical such as creatine. However, aside from this, it has a very specific role in the nervous system as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Glycine is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brainstem, but it is also a co-agonist for the NMDA glutamate receptors, where it has an excitatory role. 

Both glycine and magnesium act to facilitate and modulate transmission across synapses. Synapses are the gaps between the axon of one neuron and the dendrites of another. Electrical impulses cannot jump across synapses, which is why neurotransmitters are necessary. However, synapses are far more than just obstacles to neural transmission that have to be bridged. The ease with which a signal can be created across the synapse can be modified, and this ‘synaptic plasticity’ is the basis of learning, memory, and many other brain functions. Substances that can modify the transmission of signals across a synapse, the way both glycine and magnesium do, have powerful effects on brain function.

Glycine, therefore, is far more than just a carrier for magnesium in MagTech’s magnesium glycinate. It has significant health benefits of its own, notably in improving sleep quality, and works synergistically with magnesium’s calming effects to improve mood and mental focus. Insomnia is an ever-increasing problem in modern societies. No matter how optimised your diet is to support optimal brain health and function, you will not perform well, physically or mentally, if you don’t get the amount of high quality sleep that you require on a regular basis.

Many of us are aware that staying an x number of hours in bed is not the same as getting a good night’s sleep. Often even when we do fall asleep the sleep is shallow, we wake up frequently and we feel tired in the morning before the day has even begun. Nobody can be expected to perform well under these conditions. Luckily MagTech’s magnesium glycinate should help with these problems. In a trial with human volunteers who complained of low quality sleep, 3 g of glycine taken before bed was shown to result in more restful sleep as assessed by both a subjective questionnaire and polysomnography. Ingesting glycine also appeared to improve the efficiency of sleep, the ratio of the time actually asleep to the time a person spends in bed.

Glycine appears to improve sleep quality through its role as an excitatory co-agonist of the NMDA (N-methyl D-aspartame) receptors in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). The SCN regulates the circadian rhythm, the 24 hour cycle of oscillating hormone levels and neural activities that determine the cycle of sleep, wakefulness and other biorhythms. The nucleus is a grain-of-rice structure in the hypothalamus, and is well known that deficits in it can result in insomnia and sleep disturbances. Neuroscience research in rats suggests that signalling through the NMDA receptors in the SCN results in a decrease in the core body temperature and relaxation of blood vessels that results in a better quality of sleep.

Recent studies have discovered that glycine as well as enhancing sleep quality also improves mental performance and wakefulness in people with mild sleep deprivation. Hence magnesium glycinate is the perfect supplement to take for those times when you need to burn the midnight oil to achieve an urgent task, or to revise for exams. The magnesium will improve your cognitive skills and your memory recall, while keeping you calm and focused, while the glycine will decrease your feelings of fatigue and sleepiness the next day.

This function of glycine was again tested in a clinical trial, using volunteers who had mild sleep deprivation; they were aloud to sleep for only 75% of their usual time for three consecutive nights. Their sleepiness during the day was assessed with a subjective questionnaire, and their performance on a computer test was measured. Taking 3g of glycine before bedtime, appeared to make the volunteers feel less sleepy and tired the next day, and improved their scores on the PC performance test.

Magnesium also works through the NMDA receptors, and increased levels of magnesium in the central nervous system increase the number of synaptic connections. Although the effect of elevated magnesium levels on synaptic transmission in the suprachiasmatic nucleus hasn’t been specifically tested, it is known that magnesium exerts a calming effect, decreasing anxiety, and that it is a mood stabiliser. These effects all result in falling asleep faster, and it more restful sleep, whatever their exact mechanism.

MagTech’s magnesium glycinate is the third amino-acid chelate of magnesium in the supplement. Binding the metal ion to an amino acid ensures rapid absorption in the intestine, and good delivery to the cells. Glycine, the simplest amino acid, can cross the blood brain barrier and acts as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Especially noteworthy are its effects on the suprachiasmatic nucleus in the hypothalamus, an area of the brain that controls the circadian rhythm. Clinical tests in human volunteers have shown that taking a glycine supplement before bedtime improves the quality and depth of sleep, but that it also decreases fatigue and improves performance in cases of mild sleep deprivation. Glycine therefore works synergistically with magnesium, which has a calming, anti-anxiety effect, and improves cognitive performance and focus, to ensure that you obtain the restful sleep necessary for optimal brain health and performance.

Further Reading:

The effect of glycine on sleep quality:

Glycine improves daytime performance in mild sleep deprivation:

The effect of elevated cerebro-spinal magnesium on NMDA receptors, and synaptic connections: