Everything you need to know about glutamine

-Dec 2, Jenny Paul , Health -

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body. It is involved in more metabolic processes than any other amino acid. Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid, which means that the body can usually synthesise it except during periods of stress.

In conjunction with cysteine, glutamine supplementation has been shown to enhance glutathione stores. Glutathione, the most powerful antioxidant in the body, is commonly depleted as we age.

What is Glutamine and what is it used for?

“L- Glutamine contributes to the health of the immune and digestive systems as well as to the repair of the soft tissue and muscles,” nutritional therapist Candice Van Eeden explains. 

Glutamine can contribute to the production of other amino acids, glucose, nucleotides, protein and glutathione. It is the principal metabolic fuel for the epithelial cells that line the small intestine (enterocytes) and for certain immune cells, namely lymphocytes, macrophages and fibroblasts.

Together with arginine and lysine, glutamine increases plasma HGH levels by stimulating the anterior pituitary gland. It is an important anti-catabolic agent in muscle, which helps preserve muscle tissue (preventing its breakdown) during and after exercise. The heavier one trains, the greater the stress on the muscle and, therefore, the greater the use of glutamine. Higher levels of intramuscular glutamine help stop the catabolism of branched-chain amino acids, as glutamine can diffuse from the muscle and become a source of glucose in the liver to help maintain blood glucose and liver glycogen levels during periods of stress (e.g., exercise). This is also the role played by alanine, and thus, higher glutamine concentrations might reduce the requirement for alanine synthesis in the muscle and spare the breakdown of muscle tissue during exercise and other periods of catabolic stress.

Glutamine also operates as a nitrogen shuttle, taking up excess ammonia and forming urea. Ammonia, a by-product of normal biochemical reactions in the body, is toxic, thus glutamine serves an important function in helping to convert ammonia into urea, a non-toxic end-product that the body can easily eliminate.

Which foods contain Glutamine? 

Glutamine can be found in animal proteins such as meats and dairy – a perfect source of this useful amino acid is bone broths and grass-fed dairy and whey protein. 

Plant-based protein sources can also be used to increase Glutamine levels, such as asparagus, broccoli, red cabbage and beans. 

What are the benefits of Glutamine?

Glutamine supplementation has been shown to enhance immune system function and result in a lower level of infection and a shorter hospital stay following surgery, radiation treatment, bone marrow transplantation and injury. Glutamine supplementation has also been shown to reduce the incidence of infections in endurance athletes, who are known to have their immune systems compromised by excessive training.

FAQ: What is the recommended daily dose of glutamine?

Around 60% of your skeletal muscle is made up of glutamine so it’s a really important amino acid. As always, your doctor can give you the best recommendations for supplementation – adult doses for glutamine supplements commonly range from 500 to 1,500 mg per day. 

Healthy Beauty 24|7

Sign up to our weekly newsletter