Glutamine is an amino acid that plays a crucial role in protein synthesis. Find out some interesting facts about this amino acid and its health benefits through this article.
Being the most abundant amino acid, glutamine plays a very important role in protein synthesis and several other important metabolic processes of the body. However, it is not an essential amino acid, which means that the human body can synthesize this amino acid under normal circumstances. It is synthesized from another amino acid, which is known as glutamic acid. But in certain conditions like extreme physical stress, and severe injury and burns, our body may fail to synthesize enough glutamine. In such a situation, this nutrient may need to be obtained from food or supplements. Therefore, it is considered a conditionally essential amino acid.
It has immense importance in functions like protein synthesis, and the regulation of acid-base balance in the body. It also plays an important role in the removal of excess ammonia from the body, and the maintenance of muscle mass. This amino acid can help slow down the rate of muscle breakdown. This is the reason why its supplements are widely used by bodybuilders.
During an intense training or exercise program, the body depletes the level of stored glutamine rapidly. Therefore, bodybuilders and athletes take its supplements to preserve their muscle mass. This amino acid is also important for proper brain functioning, as it is the precursor of the neurotransmitter, gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). It has been observed that this nutrient can cross the blood-brain barrier to provide energy to the brain cells.
This amino acid is the precursor of glutathione, which an antioxidant. By helping the body to produce this antioxidant, glutamine can boost the immune system. Apart from these, it can help speed up the process of wound healing, and ensure faster recovery from illnesses. This amino acid can also promote the health of the gastrointestinal tract. It protects the mucosal lining of the gastrointestinal tract, and thus maintains the health of the digestive system. Nowadays, it is used for the treatment of alcoholism, depression, and Huntington’s disease.
So far, no major side effect has been observed, especially if this nutrient is obtained from food sources. Supplements of this amino acid are also considered to be safe. However, the intravenous administration of nutritional formula containing glutamine has been observed to cause elevated liver enzymes in some studies. Its supplements may also cause mania in the patients of bipolar disorder.
Apart from these, an excessive intake of this amino acid can cause diarrhea in some individuals. People with kidney and liver diseases, and Reye’s syndrome are usually advised to avoid its supplements. Individuals allergic to monosodium glutamate, and pregnant and breastfeeding women should better avoid the supplements of this amino acid. Its supplements are usually found in the form of powder and capsules. Glutamine supplements should not be added to a hot liquid or beverage, as the exposure to heat can destroy this nutrient.
A number of foods can also provide this amino acid, of which fish, chicken, beef, eggs, milk and dairy products, beans, wheat, and vegetables like cabbage, spinach, beetroot, and parsley are worth mentioning. But still, glutamine supplementation can be required at times, in which case, it is essential to follow the direction given by your physician.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.