Glutamine: what it is, why, how to drink

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We say the essential substance for the body, which will help to quickly restore strength, strengthen the immune system and accelerate wound healing

Amino acids are the second most abundant compound in the body after water. And glutamine is the most common and most flexible of all. It serves as a building block for any proteins that are responsible for many functions in the body, and is also important for the synthesis of glucose and other amino acids. Glutamine supplements help improve immunity, heal wounds faster and recover faster from strenuous exercise.

Material commented:

Natalia Antonova, endocrinologist, nutritionist at SM-Clinic.

Ilya Alekhin, director of the “Gym” department of the World Class fitness club network.

Galina Anisenya, nutritionist of the World Class fitness club network.

What is glutamine?

Glutamine is synthesized in skeletal muscle and from there is transported through the blood to all organs.

Glutamine is synthesized in skeletal muscle and from there is transported through the blood to all organs.

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Glutamine is a conditionally essential acid. Normally, the body itself synthesizes it in sufficient quantities, but in case of illness or injury, it may require additional tumors that can be obtained from food. Glutamine is mainly synthesized in skeletal muscle and from there it is transported through the blood to all organs.

Glutamine exists in the form of two isomers – L-glutamine and D-glutamine. They are almost identical, but have slightly different molecular structures. Studies show that L is found in food and is much more important in its functions than D. Therefore, its L-isomer is usually called glutamine.

It is believed that the body of a healthy person produces 40 to 80 g of glutamine per day and the average western diet provides another 6.84 g. [1]. For a healthy person this is more than enough. But if you are sick or injured, you may need more glutamine, because it is the main food for the cells of the immune system.

Natalia Antonova, endocrinologist, nutritionist at SM-Clinic

“In case of severe stress, from various causes, from intense physical exertion to cachexia (extreme exhaustion), infection, injury or trauma, the free glutamine in the body is depleted quickly. To raise its level, the body begins the process of breaking down muscle tissue proteins, from which it resumes its synthesis. This leads to abrupt suppression of the immune system. Then the only source of glutamine levels is the consumption of protein foods (meat, fish, poultry, legumes, dairy products), as well as the intake of glutamine in the form of supplements.

What is the use of glutamine?

Glutamine is a vital substance for almost all organs and systems.  It is rarely deficient because the body synthesizes them on its own and receives them from almost every food.

Glutamine is a vital substance for almost all organs and systems. It is rarely deficient because the body synthesizes them on its own and receives them from almost every food.

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Glutamine refers to substances that are vital for almost all organs and systems of the body, but are rarely deficient because the body synthesizes them on its own and receives them from almost every food.

Here are just a few of the functions that this amino acid performs [2]:

  • an essential substance for metabolism.
  • nutrition for the cells of the immune system.
  • protection of the gastric mucosa.
  • modification of the body’s antioxidant and cytoprotective reactions.
  • substrate for the synthesis of many substances in cells.
  • regulation of acid-base balance.
  • participation in the synthesis of any proteins – neurotransmitters, enzymes, hormones.

Glutamine in food

Glutamine is found in almost every food, but most of it is where there is a lot of protein.

Glutamine is found in almost every food, but most of it is where there is a lot of protein.

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Glutamine is found in almost every food, but above all it is where there is a lot of protein.

The following is a list of foods with the highest glutamine content (per 100 grams) [3]:

  • cashew nuts – 4.4 g;
  • marine fish such as mackerel – 3.8 g.
  • beef – 1.2 g;
  • greens: spinach, parsley, green cabbage – about 1.8 g.
  • red beans – 0.6 g;
  • tofu – 0.6 g;
  • egg – 0.6 g;
  • corn – 0.4 g;
  • rice – 0.3 g;
  • milk – 0.3 g;
  • red cabbage – 0.3 g;

The benefits of glutamine

According to endocrinologist Natalya Antonova, in medicine, the use of glutamine is indicated for reduced mental activity, exhaustion of the nervous system, diseases of the connective tissue and gastrointestinal tract and autoimmune diseases. Only a doctor prescribes it.

Helps heal wounds

Glutamine is very important for repairing damaged tissues – new healthy cells use it for nutrition. [4]. Some studies show that adding glutamine can speed up the healing of burns and reduce the risk of wound infection. [5], [6].

Accelerates muscle recovery

Glutamine supplements are widely used in sports medicine to speed up muscle recovery.

Glutamine supplements are widely used in sports medicine to speed up muscle recovery.

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The therapeutic function of glutamine works not only with diseases and wounds, but also with muscle wasting. Therefore, supplements of this amino acid are actively used in sports medicine to accelerate muscle recovery. Glutamine helps reduce muscle breakdown time and increase the frequency of intense workouts, as well as reducing pain and fatigue. This effect is confirmed by many studies. [7].

Ilya Alekhin, director of the “Gym” department of the World Class gym network

“It is recommended to use glutamine before and after intense training, especially strength training, as a means to accelerate post-workout recovery, reduce muscle pain and support the immune system. “My professional and personal experience has shown that glutamine really works, especially when combined with BCAAs, another popular protein supplement to speed up muscle recovery.”

Strengthens the immune system

Glutamine is often referred to as the fuel for the immune system – it is what nourishes its cells, such as white blood cells, cytokines, macrophages. Therefore, glutamine deficiency reduces immunity. And a sufficient amount of this substance, on the contrary, enhances it. [8]. However, excess glutamine will not make you more susceptible to disease – cells do not need more food than they can eat.

Protects the intestines

Glutamine is nutritious not only for the immune system, but also for the cells of the mucosa that cover the gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, a sufficient amount of this substance is necessary for normal digestion. Studies are underway on the effectiveness of using glutamine in the treatment of stomach ailments. In addition, the amino acid makes the digestive system more resistant to irritants such as alcohol and harmful chemicals. [9].

Glutamine damage

Because glutamine is an amino acid that is naturally present in the body and is found in many foods, there is no concern that it is harmful in normal amounts. There were no adverse effects in studies where patients received 45 g of glutamine per day. [10]. However, the long-term effects of consuming large doses (greater than 40 g) of glutamine have not been studied. Scientists suggest that this could lead to disruption of biochemical pathways and failure of cellular functions, as well as an increased risk of developing cancer. [11].

How to take glutamine

Glutamine supplements are sold in capsule form.

Glutamine supplements are sold in capsule form.

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Glutamine supplements are sold as capsules, usually 0.5 g each, and powdered mixtures, 4.5 g per serving.

Natalia Antonova:

“The daily dose of glutamine is not more than 4-5 g for women and not more than 8 g for men. It is usually taken twice a day. With self-administration of higher doses, side effects from the digestive system, hematopoietic system, dry skin may occur.

Galina Anisenya, nutritionist, World Class fitness club network

“Athletes take glutamine 30 minutes before meals, after exercise and before bed. On non-training days – morning or afternoon and evening. The daily dose is 5-10 g, depending on the intensity of the training program.

Trainer Ilya Alekhin explains that the daily dose of glutamine is usually calculated according to the formula 100 mg per 1 kg of body weight. Both experts note that you can take glutamine only with the approval of a doctor.

Contraindications

Glutamine has practically no contraindications. The only risk is that glutamine leads to elevated glutamate levels, which can be dangerous for people with head injuries and other neurosurgical problems. [12].

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