Learn More About Glutamine

What is Glutamine?
Glutamine has been known to be the most abundant amino acid in the bloodstream. It is considered a "conditionally essential amino acid" because it can be manufactured in the body, but under extreme physical stress the demand for glutamine exceeds the body's ability to synthesize it. Most glutamine in the body is stored in muscles followed by the lungs, where much of the glutamine is manufactured. Glutamine is also important for removing excess ammonia, a waste product, from the body. Many types of immune cells rely on glutamine and without this, the immune system would be impaired. Adequate amounts of Glutamine can be obtained from diet alone because the body is also able to make glutamine on its own. Medical conditions such as, injuries, surgery, infections, and stress can deplete the body of glutamine. In these cases, glutamine supplementation may be necessary.

What are the uses of glutamine?
Glutamine comes into play when the body is in need of repairing. When the body is stressed, cortisol is released into the bloodstream and elevated cortical levels can deplete glutamine stores. Since glutamine plays a key role in the immune system, a deficiency in this nutrient can significantly slow the healing process. Studies have shown that glutamine supplements enhance the immune system and reduce infections (particularly infections associated with surgery). Glutamine supplements may also aid in the recovery of severe burns.

What are its benefits?
Some benefits of glutamine are:

  • It keeps your muscles from being catabolized for use of the other cells in the body
  • It helps maintain cell volume and hydration and speeds up the wound healing process
  • Glutamine can help produce growth hormones
  • Glutamine and may serve to boost the immune system, for body builders this is important because heavy workouts tend to deplete glutamine levels in the body.
  • It helps with the transportation of potassium across the blood brain barrier, although glutamine itself does not cross the barrier easily.

Research on the ingredient?
Research that has been done on glutamine by the University of Maryland Medical Center, found that it aids with treatment of diseases such as:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)-supplementation during treatment of IBD is recommended because it promotes healing of the cells in the intestines and improves diarrhea associated with IBD
  • HIV/AIDS-Glutamine supplementation can help with weight loss in HIV/AIDS patients
  • Cancer-Glutamine is often given to malnourished cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatments and sometimes used in patients undergoing bone marrow transplants.
  • Glutamine is used to protect the lining of the small and large intestines from damage caused by chemotherapy or radiation.

A review from the Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston whose goal was to review the potential benefits of glutamine nutrition in patients with cancer stated that supplementation of glutamine for cancer patients can be vital to their recovery process.

Dosage Recommendations?
Glutamine, usually in the form of L-glutamine, it is available as an individual supplement or as part of a protein supplement. It comes in powder, capsule, tablet, or liquid form. Standard preparations are typically available in 500 mg tablets or capsules. Glutamine should be taken with cold or room temperature foods or liquids. It should not be added to hot beverages because heat destroys glutamine.

Safety?
Because of the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, dietary supplements should be taken only under the supervision of a knowledgeable healthcare provider.

Glutamine powder should not be added to hot beverages because heat destroys this amino acid. Glutamine supplements should also be kept in a dry location. Moisture leads to breakdown of this substance.

Conclusion
Adequate amounts of glutamine should be taken in through diet or supplementation. Glutamine is important for the body’s recovery process and depletion can cause impairment in the body’s system.

References

  • 1. University of Mary Medical Center, Glutamine (2004) http://www.umm.edu/altmed/ConsSupplements/Glutaminecs.html, accessed March 21, 2007.
  • 2. Bodybuilding for you, L-glutamine side effects and benefits. http://www.bodybuildingforyou.com/supplements-reviews/glutamine-side-effects-benefits.htm
  • 3. http://www.healthvitaminsguide.com/aminoacids/glutamine-and-glutamic-acid.htm
  • 4. http://www.maximuscle.com/research/glutamine.html
  • 5. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/drug-information/DR500551
  • 6. http://www.nutritiondynamics.com/research_articles12.htm