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Glutamine sources, health benefits and uses

Tuesday, September 12, 2017 by

Glutamine is also known as L-glutamine and is the most abundant amino acid in the body, comprising nearly 20 percent of all the freely floating protein-building structures in the human blood. It exists in a constant peptide-bonded state, which makes it chemically very stable. The amino acid was first isolated by Schulze in 1883.

Glutamine is involved in a variety of metabolic processes and is known to biologists as a conditionally essential amino acid. This means that while the body can naturally produce it, you may also benefit from supplementation both from tablets and food. Being conditionally essential also means that excess stress or nerve damage can inhibit production.

L-glutamine is mostly produced in the muscles and lungs where it serves the primary purpose of removing ammonia, a waste product in the human body.

The amino acid is also known by its other names of L-Glutamic acid 5-amide; 2-Aminoglutaramic acid; L-2-Aminoglutaramidic acid; Glutamic acid amide; Glutamic acid 5-amide; gamma-Glutamine; Levoglutamid; and Levoglutamide.

Medicinal uses for glutamine

Glutamine has three main functions: first, it increases water retention in muscle cells; two, it aids in signalling cell growth; and third, it intensifies the production of protein and glycogen. Through all these processes, glutamine works to constantly remove harmful and toxic ammonia in the body.

Our body also uses L-glutamine to produce ample supplies of the antioxidant, glutathione, which has been noted to prevent cell damage. At the same time, glutamine prevents muscle catabolism and allows the body to recover faster during sleep.

Moreover, glutamine regulates the stability of acids and bases in the body. When these are kept in check, we are less likely to get sick and recover faster from injuries. This is another reason why many doctors recommend L-glutamine supplements post-surgery or for patients who are suffering from injuries or burns. The amino acid likewise plays a crucial role in preventing muscle fatigue and/or loss among bodybuilders or those engaging in regular intense exercise.

Body systems supported by glutamine

This versatile amino acid is crucial in the synthesis of amino sugars and different types of protein chains in the body. Consequently, L-glutamine is necessary for all body systems that have a high cell division rate. This includes the:

  • Immune System
  • Mucous Cells in the Small Intestines
  • Mouth
  • Musculoskeletal System

As mentioned, the body is able to naturally produce glutamine. Athletes, however, are asked to increase their L-glutamine levels by eating foods rich in this amino acid. Most doctors recommend a minimum dose of around 10 grams of L-glutamine every day. This dosage can be higher for competitive athletes or patients with liver or kidney disease. For the most part, this nutritional deficiency can be addressed through supplementation, but there are also some food items to take note of. This includes some forms of cheeses, milk, and yogurt.

Glutamine is usually well-tolerated but care must still be taken when supplementing with this amino acid. Glutamine peptides are more potent and therefore have stronger side effects. An overdose of glutamine can cause gastrointestinal distress, kidney and liver damage, or a severe allergic reaction.

If you begin to have difficulty in breathing, an irregular heartbeat, or you begin to itch, consult your physician immediately.

Where to learn more


Glutamine (L-glutamine) is necessary for various metabolic functions and is especially necessary for athletes or those who regularly engage in intense physical activity. The amino acid is also recommended for those recovering from a major surgery.

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