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Of all of the amino acids produced by the human body, glutamine is the most prolific of them all. Not only is it the most abundant amino acid in the human body, but it mainly produced by the muscles in your body.

Because the body can produce its own glutamine, it is a non-essential amino acid. However, it is also considered to be a conditionally essential amino acid because under certain situations the body can deplete its natural resources and leave it without the glutamine it needs. Glutamine supplements are often used in such instances.

A deficiency of glutamine weakens the immune system. This simply means that someone with a glutamine deficiency, (a permanent deficiency is rare), will be more prone to colds and infections. Babies born with glutamine deficiencies that aren't identified and treated typically die within a couple of weeks of birth.

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Glutamine Deficiency Causes The circumstances that can lead to a temporary deficiency include concentrated workouts, competitive sports, illness or injury. In these cases a glutamine supplement can prevent a deficiency and allow you to function as normally as possible after one of these si... more

Glutamine Deficiency Causes

The circumstances that can lead to a temporary deficiency include concentrated workouts, competitive sports, illness or injury. In these cases a glutamine supplement can prevent a deficiency and allow you to function as normally as possible after one of these situations.

Serious athletes are more prone to a temporary deficiency because they spend more time working on their body than the average person. Often, when an athlete doesn’t take glutamine supplements, they will have more colds than the average person. Studies do show that athletes that take glutamine have less incidents of illness overall.

Glutamine Benefits

Glutamine is involved in a variety of metabolic processes. What this means is that it aids in many of the metabolic functions such as energy production, boosting the immune system, healing processes and more.

Although glutamine has been studied for over 15 years in both private and clinical studies, only a few studies have been published stating the benefits of glutamine. There are plenty of assumptions made about glutamine because of how much is produced in the human body, but there are only a few ways that it is used in traditional medicine.

In traditional medicine, glutamine is used for:

  • Post operative patients to reduce healing time
  • To treat side effects of cancer treatment
  • To boost glutamine levels in cancer patients to prevent infections/illness
  • To reduce healing time in burn patients

In studies, the benefits for healing are only proven when used intravenously. What this means is that these studies were not conducted using glutamine supplements that you can purchase in the store; only prescription grade intravenous glutamine.

With that being said, supplements are typically sold boasting these benefits. While glutamine supplements can certainly benefit those with a glutamine deficiency and help athletes maintain their glutamine levels, studies don’t support the claims made for pills, powders or liquids.

It is important to understand that this doesn’t mean that glutamine supplements can’t be beneficial in these areas, only that the studies on glutamine did not include supplement products! Straight glutamine supplements are well absorbed in the body; however, only 20% is effectively moved through the bloodstream to other parts of the body.

Glutamine and Muscles

Many supplement companies sell glutamine as a muscle boosting product. The assumption about glutamine is that it will reduce the healing time of the microscopic tears that develop in the muscles after a workout. If this is true, then this means that you would require less rest between muscle group workouts, which means that you could build muscle mass faster.

It is also believed that taking glutamine supplements will prevent the body from taking glutamine from the muscles when it needs it. This means that it can remain in the muscle and prevent muscle breakdown.

Glutamine is important for the maintenance of your muscle mass. In clinical studies, while there seemed to be no benefit for building muscles, glutamine played a major roll in maintaining current muscle levels. Potentially, this could mean that as you age, glutamine can prevent some of the muscle breakdown that naturally occurs.

Glutamine Sources

The body produces glutamine naturally. In addition, you can get glutamine from a variety of food sources, particularly foods that are high in protein.

Most doctors recommend that you attempt to get additional glutamine before you start taking glutamine supplements. As with most nutrients that the body needs, glutamine is easier for the body to absorb if received from foods.

Foods high in glutamine include:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Cabbage
  • Spinach

In supplements, glutamine is available in powder, liquid and pill form. If you take glutamine in powder or pill form, it is important that you do not add it to hot foods or liquids or it will cook the glutamine out of the supplement, essentially making it worthless.

Glutamine Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings

There are very few side effects associated with glutamine. In fact, the most common side effect comes if you go off label and take too much of glutamine. In that case, you may face stomach upset.

People with kidney disease, liver disease or Reye Syndrome should not take glutamine as it can worsen those conditions. If you have cancer, you need to talk to your doctor before you take glutamine because it has an enhancement effect on cancer drugs.

If you have any medical conditions or are taking any medication, talk to your doctor before taking glutamine. In addition, if you are nursing or pregnant, talk to your doctor about including glutamine supplements into your diet.

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  • Side Effects
  • Other Names
  • Uses
alpha-kteoglutarate, L-Glutamine
Cancer Treatment Side Effects
Muscle Recovery
Muscle Repair
Prevent Muscle Breakdown