Glutamine is one of the 20 amino acids that the human body needs to function properly. Amino Acids are of two types – Essential Amino acids and non-essential amino acids. Glutamine falls under the category of non-essential amino acids because the body is capable of producing it.
There is a subcategory called conditional amino acids. The term conditional means that the body might stop producing the specific amino under certain health problems or mental stress. There is evidence that glutamine falls under the conditional category and it is a non-essential amino acid. In medicine and sports science it is known as L-Glutamine.
Glutamine and the Body
Glutamine is the most common amino acid present in the human body with 61% being in the skeleton and muscle. Glutamine has around 19% nitrogen and it serves as a primary nitrogen carrier. Glutamine levels gets dropped down due to heavy training or due to illness so the body might take up to 6 days to restore glutamine levels in the body, therefore it is advised to supplement with glutamine powder. A rise in stress hormone (cortisol) also lowers the level of glutamine in the body.
In humans, glutamate and glutamic acid are used to synthesize glutamine. Glutamine is primarily synthesized and stored in muscles and then lungs and brain. The chemical formula of glutamine is C5H10N2O3. The presence of 2 nitrogen atoms state its nitrogen carrying capabilities to tissues and organs.
As previously stated, glutamine is a conditional amino acid. The body produces it at a sufficient rate but the levels get dropped down due to heavy workouts and illness, and it then takes time for the body to restore the levels so supplementation is advised. The small and large intestines, hair follicles and immune system mostly utilize the glutamine produced in the body. The gastrointestinal system consumes around 40% of the present glutamine, with the liver and kidneys also consume glutamine for detoxification. Glutamine is available in most of the food sources in small quantities also.
Glutamine has numerous health benefits and those are not only limited to gym lovers.
1. Wound Healing and Expedite Recovery
Under stress, the body releases a hormone known as cortisol. The hormone has a negative effect on glutamine levels, as it tends to reduce them. Various studies have shown that glutamine supplementation can reduce mortality rates in critical injuries and illness. Glutamine might also be used post-surgery for the fast wound healing and prevention of post surgery infections.
2. Weight Management in HIV and AIDS patients
Patients suffering with HIV AIDS loose weight dramatically. A study suggests that supplementation of glutamine with other vital nutrients like B vitamins might help in regulating muscle mass and and in turn weight.
3. Chemotherapy Treatment
Patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment have great dips in glutamine levels. Studies show that supplementation might be helpful in these patients along with normal chemotherapy treatment.
Glutamine has been found very effective in the treatment of stomatitis, which is a type of inflammation in the mouth due to the effects of chemotherapy. Glutamine might also help in preventing diarrhea during chemotherapy.
4. Brain Function
There are almost no studies to prove this claim but it is stated that glutamine is really helpful in promoting concentration, mood and alertness levels.
5. Kills Craving
Supplementation with glutamine suppresses craving for sugar and alcohol. Glutamine helps the body in suppressing the insulin, thereby controlling blood sugar levels, allowing the body not to be dependent on muscle mass for calorie deficit diet.
5. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Glutamine protects intestinal linings (mucosa). A person suffering from IBD may not have enough glutamine in his intestines. More research is needed to prove the fact that supplementation with glutamine inhibits IFD or not.
6. Contributing to Growth
Studies have shown that glutamine increases the rate of growth hormone production in humans (HGH). A 2-3 gram of glutamine spikes up the GH levels to 400 %.
7. Fuel for Cells
Glutamine plays a major role in any athlete’s carrier. Post-workout, consumption of L-Glutamine prevents muscle catabolism – this could happen as cells are used to compensate for lost glutamine levels. Glutamine also helps in maintaining cell volumes.
8. Physique Improvements
L-Glutamine is a must pro workout powder. There are evidences that support Glutamine’s role in promoting lean muscle mass, strength and power in a healthy individual.
Glutamine Side Effects
Research says that Glutamine has almost NO side effects but consuming too much might not be beneficial. Below is the list of issues related to glutamine.
A. Children under 10 years SHOULD NOT be supplemented with glutamine unless prescribed by a doctor.
B. Heat destroys glutamine. Glutamine powder should not be consumed with hot beverages.
C. Patients having liver and kidney problems should not intake glutamine.
D. Patients with a record of seizures should carefully watch their glutamine intake. There are studies that glutamine might aggravate the symptoms.
For maximum benefits and utilization, glutamine intake should be 30-35 grams daily divided across the day. This dosage is applicable to patients suffering with low levels of glutamine as well as for athletes.
Athletes should consume glutamine pre workout, as well as post-workout and the quantity should be around 10 grams. Two 5 grams servings can be consumed any time of the day to maintain plasma glutamine levels.
Glutamine is not required to be cycled like other supplements.
NOTE: A whey protein shake consists of 5 grams of glutamine (this may vary), a 5 gram serving after the shake solves the 10 gram mystery.
Glutamine should be preferably consumed with some electrolytic medium like sodium. In fact, glutamine is transported through a sodium dependent process and has shown improvements in cell volume, hydration and electrolyte absorption.
Additionally glutamine can be stacked with BCAAs (Branch Chained Amino Acids). The reason for stacking it with BCAAs is that it increases BCAA metabolism.
Glutamine can also be stacked with citrulline as it increases the rate of nitric oxide production as it itself contain nitrogen. Nitric oxide increases the rate at which oxygen gets delivered to muscles.