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What is Glutamine?

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Glutamine was first used in the fitness industry in powdered form first to preserve muscle tissue; it was used by athletes and bodybuilders. Over the years, research has shown that there are many more health benefits of L-Glutamine for those who live both an active and non-active lifestyle.

What is L-Glutamine?

Protein is one off the well-known macronutrients for protein building muscle, bone, skin, hair, and for repairing tissues. Just like an atom is made of sub-atomic particles, macronutrients are made up of smaller parts. Proteins are made up of chains of amino acids, which are molecules.  

Proteins serve different functions in the body and there are many kinds of proteins. There are 20 different kinds of amino acids that make up proteins in your body, some of which are required through food intake and others your body can actually synthesize. The amino acids that your body cannot create are called essential amino acids, such as lysine, phenylalanine, and leucine. Out of the 20 different kinds of amino acids, 9 of them are essential amino acids. The remaining 11 can be categorized as non-essential amino acids, meaning they are required by your body, but you don't have to get them from your diet because your body can synthesize them. L-Glutamine is an example of a non-essential amino acid.      

You might ask why a person would take glutamine as a supplement if the body is capable of producing this amino acid on its own. The reason is that glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid, which means that by supplementing with it to give the body a stronger amount, a person can reap the benefits of this additional glutamine in the body, mainly as related to immune function, gastrointestinal, and muscle recovery health.     

 

7 Benefits of Glutamine Supplementation

1) Reduces sugar cravings – Research shows that glutamine can help reduce cravings for alcohol and sugar. Lowering your sugar and alcohol intake can have massive health benefits from reducing belly fat to improving your skin.

2) Improves blood sugar and can help improve diabetes - Diabetes has become a devastating epidemic in the United States and glutamine has been shown to help.  

3) Improves ulcers, IBS, leaky gut, and other gastrointestinal problems - Glutamine can help to balance the mucus production in the gut to improve the bowels and can actually heal ulcers.

4) Promotes protein metabolism, muscle growth, and improves muscle building - Maintaining muscle is important for everyone, not just athletes. Protecting your muscles can keep you from falling, improves functional movements, helps to prevent injuries, and can allow you to do the things in life that you want to do.  

5) Improves metabolism - Metabolism is how your body converts nutrients into energy. The better this process works, the better able your body is to use its fuel (food) and burn more calories.  Many people's metabolisms slow as they get older or the less muscle mass they have, and other people struggle with a slower metabolism for other reasons. Glutamine can be effective in improving metabolism, which can also aid in weight loss.  

6) Improves immune system and can even fight cancer - Having an immune system that functions well is important. It protects you from disease, helps you to get better when you do get sick, and allows your organs to focus on other important functions. When you are sick, your body has to devote energy to making you well, which takes away from its ability to focus on other things, like weight management or muscle growth. People with compromised immune systems, such as those with cancer or who are undergoing medical treatment are often given high doses of glutamine to keep their immune systems strong and to help their body’s heal. Research shows that glutamine actually fights cancer.    

7) Aids in bodily repair – For example, after having surgery, the wounds need to heal and the body may need more glutamine than what the body has stored up.  A traumatic injury can also have this same effect, using up the body's store of glutamine and cause muscle breakdown.  This also can take away from the function of vital organs. Glutamine supplementation can keep glutamine in the body, assisting in the process of healing the body, maintaining muscle, and keep the vital organs working.    

 

Glutamine Effects in Athletes/Bodybuilders

Let's talk about the effects that glutamine can specifically have for athletes, bodybuilders, and people who are trying to get fit and lean. As mentioned previously, glutamine has the benefit of improving your immune function, which means that it can help prevent illness. When you are an athlete, bodybuilder, or are working your body harder than you normally would, this puts stress on the immune system. Taking L-Glutamine can keep your immune system strong so that you can keep training hard.L-Glutamine also helps to prevent catabolism of the muscles (i.e. muscle breakdown).

Glutamine also enhances glycogen stores. Glycogen is the stored form of glucose in muscles and the liver. Remember when we mentioned that the macronutrients are made up of smaller parts? The most common building block of carbohydrates is glucose, which is what it is broken down into through the body's digestive process. The body needs stored glucose to use as fuel for carrying out heavy exercise and for bodybuilders and athletes that means more capacity for doing work. Glutamine intake after a heavy workout is more effective at restoring glycogen stores than eating carbohydrates.       

Glutamine also helps increase metabolism, get rid of fat, and build muscle. For athletes who want to build muscle and also stay lean, glutamine is an effective choice for a supplement to aid in this process. The best part is that glutamine is a legal way to help you build muscle and no sports organization bans it since it is considered a supplement.  

The recommended dose for athletes and bodybuilders is between 8 and 10 grams per day, 1/2 before a workout and the second 1/2 after working out to assist in recovery.  When glutamine is taken within safe limits there are no side effects.  

 

Glutamine Effects in Children

For all of the moms and dads out there, glutamine has physical and mental benefits for kids too. It is safe for children to use as long as the intake of glutamine does not exceed the body's needs. In other words, the body will need to process the amount of glutamine and use it completely, and as long as this is the case, it is safe for children. Research has found it to be effective in infants, children, and adolescents who have diseases such as cancer or gastrointestinal diseases, in that it helps restore their energy and also assists with improving their immune systems since their immune systems are often compromised from their illness and/or from their medical treatments.

In children who do not suffer from diseases, but may have issues with food sensitivity, leaky gut, or ulcers, glutamine can be used to heal their gastrointestinal system and prevent a reoccurrence.  

There is also some research that shows that autistic children can benefit from taking glutamine. It has been linked to the improvement of health and also of language processing in autistic children. It helps with calming their behaviors, aiding in memory, and also in helping them to be more alert.  

In combination with Ginkgo biloba and B6, glutamine has been shown to increase IQ in children who struggle with intellectual impairment.         

 

Glutamine Effects in Women

Women can also experience all of the excellent benefits of glutamine and, lucky for them, there are some benefits that are exclusive to women.  For example, studies show that glutamine supplementation is helpful in treating PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome. Glutamine can also help you in menopause where women experience a decline in growth hormones. Glutamine can actually set you age back by 15 years, according to one study.  

Many women who struggle with gastrointestinal issues also struggle more with menstrual discomfort. It can be a time of the month where they experience flare-ups from IBS or other abdominal discomforts, making menstruation even more uncomfortable. Women who take glutamine for their intestinal problems say that they feel better during their periods as well. Some women have even stated that the flare-ups that are present when they are in the time of the month when they should have their periods will actually miss their flow because of the intestinal issues. Managing the digestive disorder with glutamine has been reported to resolve these menstrual issues as well because it has restored their hormones to balance.

It is also interesting to note that gastrointestinal issues have been links to infertility in women as well. Once these women begin to heal their gut, through supplements like glutamine and a complete fertility treatment plan, they are better able to conceive.  Women who have a hard time getting pregnant who also have leaky gut and/or food sensitivities should ask their doctors about the possibility of these things affecting their fertility. L-glutamine can effectively heal leaky gut and help people recover from food sensitivities.          

Studies even show that pregnant women who take glutamine will actually deliver more glutamine to their infants through their breast milk, which can be beneficial for the infant's health. There is still not enough known about glutamine intake during pregnancy, so be sure to speak with our doctor before supplementing while pregnant.       

   

Safety

Glutamine is considered to be safe when taken in moderation in healthy individuals. Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid present in the body, in the muscle and blood, approximately 60%. It is safe for doses up to 40 grams per day in adults and up to 600mg/kg of weight daily if received intravenously. For children who are 3-18 years old, a dose of 0.7g/kg of weight is considered the maximum for safely.

Most people tolerate glutamine well and not very many people report experiencing side effects after the first few days of taking the supplements. The most common side effects include headache, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, itching, tired feeling, and dizziness.     

Always check with your physician before taking any supplements. Although there has been a lot of research showing that glutamine can assist those with cancer, for example, there are studies that show glutamine increasing the growth of tumors, so it is always best to make sure that you speak to a medical doctor before deciding to supplement to make sure that it is the best option for you.  

Some conditions that can be worsened by glutamine supplementation:

  • Cirrhosis
  • Mania
  • Seizures
  • Those sensitive to monosodium glutamate (MSG) 

Supplements

When taking Glutamine, you can take it in different forms including: 
  • Powder
  • Pill/Capsule
To view various Glutamine Supplement products through Members Only Supplements, please click here.
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