Glycocyamine - how is it useful?
October 22 2015 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.


Glycocyamine is also known as 2-guanidinoacetic acid. Glycocyamine is formed by the transfer of the amidine group from l-arginine to glycine.


Glycocyamine for body building

Glycocyamine is being promoted for body building and increased muscle mass as an alternative to creatine. I am not aware of any human studies regarding the role of glycocyamine in muscle tissue growth.


Amino Acids. 2015. Guanidinoacetic acid as a performance-enhancing agent. Guanidinoacetic acid (GAA; also known as glycocyamine or guanidinoacetate) is the natural precursor of creatine, and under investigation as a novel dietary agent. It was first identified as a natural compound in humans ~80 years ago. In the 1950s, GAA's use as a therapeutic agent was explored, showing that supplemental GAA improved patient-reported outcomes and work capacity in clinical populations. Recently, a few studies have examined the safety and efficacy of GAA and suggest potential ergogenic benefits for physically active men and women. The purpose of this review is to examine possible applications of GAA supplementation for exercise performance enhancement, safety, and legislation issues.


Creatine Supplementation and Glycocyamine

Plasma guanidinoacetate levels are reduced  after creatine loading and remain approximately reduced throughout the maintenance phase. Several circulating guanidino compound levels are altered after creatine loading but not during the maintenance phase: homoarginine, alpha-keto-delta-guanidinovaleric acid, and argininic acid are increased, whereas guanidinosuccinate is reduced. The decrease in circulating guanidinoacetate levels suggests that exogenous supply of creatine chronically inhibits endogenous synthesis at the transamidinase step in humans, supporting earlier animal studies showing a powerful repressive effect of creatine on l-arginine:glycine amidinotransferase. This leads to enhanced utilization of arginine as a substrate for secondary pathways.


Guanidinoacetic acid in brain

Guanidino compounds of guanidinoethanesulfonic acid, guanidinoacetic acid, guanidinosuccinic acid, N-acetylarginine, beta-guanidinopropionic acid, creatinine, gamma-guanidinobutyric acid, arginine, guanidine, methylguanidine, homoarginine and alpha-guanidinoglutaric acid are present in the brain tissue. These guanidino compounds except for arginine and guanidine induce seizures and convulsions in rat, rabbit and cat by intracisternal injection. Hirudonine, audonine, alpha-keto-delta-guanidinovaleric acid, N,N'-dibenzoylguanidine and phenylethylguanidine are also convulsants.


Glycocyamine and kidney function

For more than 30 years, guanidinoacetic acid, together with other guanidino compounds, has been proposed as an important marker for renal failure, in kidney transplantation, and for renal metabolism, especially for the metabolic activity of the renal proximal tubules. Since the discovery of the first patient with guanidinoacetic acid methyltransferase deficiency in 1994 glycocyamine has become of great interest for all laboratories involved in the diagnosis of metabolic diseases.


Side effects, adverse reaction
No major side effects have been reported as of 2015 in the medical literature regarding supplementation with this nutrient.


Q. I read about glycocyamine  in a magazine and it said, "Glycocyamine represents the first genuine alternative for Creatine non-responders. A recent feature article in Flex Magazine touted glycocyamine as the biggest breakthrough in the sports nutrition world since creatine. Being an immediate creatine precursor, glycocyamine is a vital intermediate in the biosynthesis of creatine. Glycocyamine acts by increasing the body’s endogenous production of creatine, promotes insulin sensitivity, and delivers results to even the most stubborn creatine non-responders. Glycocyamine must be formulated with a methylating agent such as Betaine (See BetaPure™ below), B-6, B-12, Folic Acid, ect to counter act the rise in homocysteine that comes with glycocyamine supplementation." What is your opinion on glycocyamine?
   A. I don't have a strong opinion on this nutrient yet, I am awaiting for more human research to be published.