What is Glutamine?
L-Glutamine, or simply glutamine, is one of 20 amino acids found in dietary proteins. It is the most abundant naturally occurring amino acid found in the body. Meat and eggs contain high levels of glutamine. However, whey protein and casein are the richest food sources of glutamine. Glutamine is crucial for gut and immune health, as those systems prefer glutamine over glucose for energy. Glutamine may also support exercise performance by reducing muscle soreness.
Although the body can synthesize glutamine, it can be a conditionally essential amino acid for some individuals. For instance, vegans and vegetarians may become glutamine deficient as they don’t consume enough glutamine through dietary sources. Prolonged or intense endurance training can also increase the body’s glutamine needs beyond its synthesizing capabilities. Individuals may need supplemental glutamine while recovering from injuries, illnesses, and surgeries. If the body’s glutamine demands outstrip its ability to synthesize the amino acid, the body may break down muscle tissues to obtain the glutamine it needs.
Potential Glutamine Benefits
Glutamine and the Immune System
Glutamine acts as a fuel source for leukocytes, a type of white blood cell that defends the body against diseases. Leukocytes prefer glutamine over glucose for energy, as glutamine provides faster energy. Leukocytes can’t synthesize glutamine and must obtain it from other tissues or dietary sources. Insufficient glutamine can compromise immune functioning.
Glutamine for Muscle Soreness and Exercise Performance
Athletes may benefit from adding glutamine supplements to their pre workout drink. One study found that glutamine supplements helped athletes recover faster following intense exercise. The same study reported that glutamine reduced muscle soreness after exercise. Another clinical trial noted that glutamine reduced inflammation caused by intense aerobic exercise. A faster recovery, reduced inflammation, and less soreness after exercise may allow athletes to train harder with less downtime between workouts. Glutamine can also help attenuate exercise-induced damage to immune cells.
L-Glutamine for Gut Health
Glutamine may benefit gut health in several ways. Research shows that glutamine stimulates protein synthesis in the mucosa, thereby improving the protein balance in the gut. It also plays a role in sustaining the intestinal barrier. Glutamine enhances transepithelial resistance, which is essential for maintaining gut integrity while reducing gut permeability. Glutamine also protects the gut against external factors that typically worsen permeability, such as alcohol metabolites.
Potential Glutamine Side Effects
Glutamine supplements do not typically cause side effects, as it is a naturally occurring amino acid in the body. Some individuals may experience mild side effects, such as bloating, heartburn, stomach pain, dizziness, or nausea. Individuals with liver function abnormalities should consult a physician before taking glutamine supplements.
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