what is glutamine good for
Glutamine. It’s not the popular kid. Which is probably why you may be wondering, what is it, and what is glutamine good for?
Supplementing your diet with L-glutamine has been found to have many beneficial health and ergogenic (performance) related effects. L-glutamine, commonly referred to as just “glutamine” is a nonessential amino acid found naturally in the body. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and glutamine happens to be the most abundant amino acid in the blood and other body fluids. However, the body’s requirement for glutamine seems to exceed its ability to produce this amino acid when under catabolic stress. And hence, glutamine supplementation has become widely popular!
Glutamine has also been used to counter side effects of medical treatments and used to help treat patients with burns, autoimmune issues, and critical illness. It has been used by athletes for increased strength, quicker recovery and decreased frequency of respiratory infections. It also has been widely used by people with Type 2 diabetes and in helping with digestive health issues, such as “leaky gut” syndrome. Here, we will discuss the ergogenic benefits, the health benefits, and the dosage, safety, and side effects of glutamine supplementation.
what is glutamine?
Glutamine comes in two different forms, L-Glutamine and D-Glutamine. They are actually mirror images of each other, but L-glutamine is the predominant form found in proteins and the form our bodies use. So, when we are referring to “glutamine”, we are talking about L-glutamine. An easy way of making sure you’re getting enough glutamine in your diet is to make sure you’re getting a sufficient amount of protein-rich foods. However, if you are immuno-compromised, an athlete or person who works out intensely, or suffer from digestive health issues, you may want to consider a glutamine supplement in addition to glutamine-rich foods.
sources of glutamine
The form of glutamine that is found in many foods is L-glutamine and eating a diet rich in glutamine is one of the easiest ways we can be sure to get enough of the amino acid. There are plenty of great tasting, nutritious foods that contain glutamine.
- If dairy isn’t an issue for you, consider adding grass-fed milk, yogurt, eggs, and/or ricotta cheese to your diet. These are all easy additions to your breakfast that can replenish your glutamine levels right as you start your day. Grass-fed milk will strengthen your bones in the process and yogurt is known for increasing healthy gut bacteria thereby aiding in digestion. When you think of ricotta cheese, you probably think of pasta, but it’s also tasty (and lower in calories) on its own with just a dash of salt and pepper. You can also toss it on top of a salad, in a sandwich or wrap, or in soup.
- Various meats are also a great way to get your daily dose of glutamine. Try adding grass-fed beef, chicken, lamb, or organ meat to reap the benefits. Seafood including fish, shrimp, crab, and mussels all contain glutamine. Keep in mind that fish that come from seawater are going to be richer in glutamine than fish from freshwater.
- Vegetables are also an excellent source of glutamine. Red cabbage is well known for being rich in this amino acid as well as kale, spinach, lettuce, cilantro, asparagus, and collard greens. Plus, vegetables are a great fiber source, rich in potassium and Vitamin K, and an easy side to add-in to any meal.
- Consider adding bone broth, nuts, beans, legumes, or parsley into your diet to make sure you are getting ample amounts of glutamine. Bone broth has many other benefits for joint pain, gut health, detoxification, etc. Nuts are a great source of fat and legumes and parsley are so simple to add to any meal!
Supplements – Top Notch HydratE
Top Notch Nutrition set out to amplify the benefits of electrolyte supplements. There are so many options on the market today. They wanted to be different and make an all-inclusive electrolyte supplement that would be beneficial to your whole body, including L-Glutamine.
Top Notch Hydrate ingredients:
- Coconut water powder – coconut water is a good source of many nutrients including: fiber, protein, vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium and calcium. Studies show that it may also contain antioxidant properties, have benefits against diabetes, prevent kidney stones, improve heart health, and reduce blood pressure.
- Himalayan pink salt – it is suggested to use this salt as often as possible when it comes to salt. In the Khewra Salt Mine, the salt is harvested by hand and therefore it can contain trace elements and minerals not found in regular table salt.
- L-Glutamine – We have already discussed at great length, it plays a big role in your immune health. If there is an insufficient amount of glutamine available, your immune system can be jeopardized. It is also important to your digestive system. Glutamine aids in facilitating a barrier between your body and the inside of your intestines. It is also responsible for assisting in maintenance and normal growth of the cells within your intestine.
- BCAA’s – BCAA stands for branched-chain amino acids and there are three of these: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These amino acids are known to increase muscle growth, reduce fatigue from exercise, decrease muscle soreness, prevent muscle wasting and aid those that have liver disease.
- Vitamin C – this vitamin cannot be produced in the body and therefore needs to be consumed in your diet whether it is through your food or a dietary supplement. It is an incredibly strong antioxidant and lowers the risk of heart disease. It also helps your body absorb iron which is an essential mineral responsible for making red blood cells and moving oxygen around the body. It is most commonly known for the immune system boost that occurs when it improves white blood cell function.
- Electrolytes – including Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium, and Sodium.
You can see that Top Notch Nutrition carefully planned this product to include essential ingredients for the best electrolyte supplements, including L-Glutamine.
dosage, safety and side effects
As we discussed earlier, glutamine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in the body. For this reason, there is no real concern that it is harmful as long as it is consumed in normal quantities. Daily glutamine intake from foods is considered safe, as well as short term supplementation of up to 14 grams per day. It is assumed that on average, a person will consume between 3 to 6 grams per day of glutamine, and a conservative dosage an individual could start supplementing with would be 5 grams per day.
There is still a good need for continued research on whether or not long term glutamine supplementation is safe, and the reason for this is that supplementing could result in a change in the way your body absorbs and processes amino acids. It seems that glutamine supplementation does not have the same effect if you follow an animal-based, high-protein diet versus a plant-based, low-protein diet. This is probably because your body is already receiving sufficient amounts of the amino acid and you are not in a deficit. For those that are insufficient in glutamine either due to their diet, immune reasons, overtraining syndrome, etc., glutamine supplementation may have a more positive and obvious effect.
According to WebMD, children aged 3 to 18 years old should not be given doses that are larger than 0.7 grams per kilogram of weight daily. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should avoid supplementing with glutamine due to lack of research on whether it is safe. People with cirrhosis, hepatic encephalopathy, mental disorders, or seizures should avoid glutamine supplements as it can potentially make the condition worse.
health benefits of glutamine
Now that we know what glutamine is and how it works in the body, we can start to answer the question, what is glutamine good for?
Glutamine for Immunity
Sufficient research indicates that glutamine plays a major role in aiding the body’s immune system. It acts as a major fuel and/or substrate for macrophages and lymphocytes, which help fight off foreign substances. In other words, it is very important in protecting the immunity of the body. There is evidence that glutamine levels drop as a result of “overtraining syndrome”, thus putting the immune system at risk. In such instances, supplementation of glutamine is deemed necessary. This is one of the major reasons athletes choose to add glutamine supplements to their regimens, and we will discuss that in more detail later.
Glutamine for Digestive Health
Glutamine is a key player when it comes to intestinal health. It acts as the energy source for the cells of the intestines and has been associated with combating “leaky gut syndrome”. “Leaky gut syndrome” is not a medical diagnosis, but rather a recently popular term used to describe an individual suffering from bloating, gas, cramps, food sensitivities, and aches and pains. It is very difficult for physicians to diagnose and pinpoint the exact issue with leaky gut syndrome, and for this reason, many who suffer from such have turned to holistic approaches. Glutamine has been found to be a helpful approach in treating this issue by acting as a barrier between the intestines and the rest of the body, preventing harmful toxins, bacteria, and undigested food from entering the bloodstream.
Glutamine for patients with Type 2 Diabetes
Studies have shown that glutamine is effective in combating the symptoms of patients with type 2 diabetes. An experiment over the course of 6 weeks, supplemented subjects with glutamine and noted significant changes in total fat mass. The study concluded that long term consumption of 10 g of glutamine 3/day with main meals would reduce glycemia, blood pressure, and WC. They also concluded that it would improve body composition in those patients with type 2 diabetes.
Ergogenic Benefits of Glutamine
Glutamine supplementation has become extremely popular in the health and fitness industry for its value as an “ergogenic aid.” An ergogenic aid is defined by the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) as any training technique, mechanical device, nutritional ingredient or practice, pharmacological method, or psychological technique that can improve exercise performance. They help maximize workouts, enhance recovery time, and/or assist in preventing injuries. Thus, glutamine, often in conjunction with other branch-chain amino acids (BCAAs) is considered an ergogenic aid. One study found that ingestion of glutamine alone appeared to help in restoration of glycogen stores, which in theory could aid in faster recovery and extended performance.
Many recent research studies have found that ingestion of BCAAs have been reported to decrease indicators of muscle damage. Glutamine is often supplemented in addition with BCAAs and recent research has supported claims of the benefits. However, this topic is growing in popularity and thus, more research is being conducted as the opinions and findings on the ergogenic effects of sole glutamine supplementation are conflicting.
We hope to have answered the question, what is glutamine good for? Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid found in our blood and body fluids. There are two different forms, but L-glutamine is the form our bodies use. It is a great supplement to aid in digestion. It helps to combat “leaky gut syndrome” and is an energy source for the cells of the intestine. As with any supplement, we recommend that if you have any major health concerns, you should talk to your doctor to find the best fit for you. We want you to have the information needed so you can make informed decisions when it comes to choosing products to support your diet and your overall health.