Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in our bodies. It is also a key building block for muscle, and for that reason, glutamine is a popular supplement among bodybuilders.
Glutamine is extremely important to our system, and it's a very hard worker. It comprises a large percentage of the free amino acids in our skeletal muscle tissue, and glutamine is involved in more metabolic processes than any other amino acid.
Also known as L-glutamine, it is predominantly synthesized and stored in skeletal muscle. However, when a muscle is placed under heavy stress, it can release a large amount of the glutamine it holds.
Glutamine is one of three amino acids involved in the synthesis of glutathione an important antioxidant comprised of glutamic acid, cysteine, and glycine. (We'll talk more about glutathione in the next section.) The health benefits of glutamine include immune system regulation, nitrogen shuttling, muscle preservation, intestinal health, and more.
Glutamine was recently re-classified as a conditionally essential amino acid. That means the body normally makes a sufficient supply, but that the need for it may spike under extreme physical stress. At such times, the demand for glutamine may exceed the supply, and supplementation may be needed.
- Glutamine is the most abundant free amino acid in blood and skeletal muscle.
- Glutamine is utilized as cellular fuel, especially in muscles.
- Glutamine supports exercise recovery.
- Glutamine is involved in more metabolic processes than any other amino acid.
- Glutamine is important for the proper functioning of the immune system.
- Glutamine supports protein metabolism.
- The body can make glutamine but in times of metabolic stress (such as with serious training or exercise), supplemental glutamine may be needed.
- Glutamine is a crucial component of muscle cells.
- Glutamine promotes bicarbonate production, which can be important for buffering lactic acid produced during intense exercise.
- Glutamine plays a role in the proper functioning of the GI tract.
- Glutamine serves as the primary source of fuel for intestinal cells.
- Glutamine can be converted to glucose when energy is needed. It also plays a part in helping us maintain a proper glucose level. And without glucose, cells cannot function efficiently.
- Glutamine helps regulate the expression of certain genes, including those governing protective enzymes. It also helps control the biosynthesis of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid). The construction of DNA is dependent upon glutamine.
- Glutamine assists in maintaining the proper acid/alkaline balance in the body, and is important for removing excess ammonia.
- Glutamine is a primary source of energy for cells of the immune system, including T cells and macrophages.
- Strenuous exercise and other demanding activities tend to cause glutamine depletion which can affect immune cells.
- Glutamine has been used by people concerned with the health of their stomach.
- Athletes training for endurance events sometimes have slow recoveries after the event is over. It has been speculated that one possible explanation is that extreme training may reduce the level of glutamine. For this select group of athletes, one study showed that the use of glutamine supplements had a positive impact on immune health.
- Glutamine may also:
- Support gastro-intestinal health
- Support athletic activity
- Decrease the desire for alcohol among alcoholics
Glutamine is widely available from diets rich in protein. Here are some good sources:
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