Glutamine is a type of amino acid synthesized and stored in the muscle tissues of the body. Oral consumption of glutamine in the form of nutritional supplements is generally devoid of side effects, but an excessive intake may lead to certain temporary health issues.
Beef, pork and poultry, milk, yogurt, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, raw spinach, raw parsley, and cabbage are natural sources of glutamine.
Glutamine or L-glutamine is a non-essential amino acid, and is produced in our body. The muscle tissues are responsible for about 90% of the total production of glutamine, whereas the rest is synthesized in the lungs, liver or even brain.
The synthesized glutamine is released in the bloodstream, and distributed to the other tissues of the body. The excess amount of glutamine is generally stored in the muscle tissue itself.
Why is Glutamine Required?
» Being an amino acid, it is an essential structural component of almost all proteins of the body.
» It is responsible for ammonia or nitrogen homeostasis of the body, by providing ammonium in the kidneys as well as detoxifying the excess ammonium, as and when required.
» It serves to transport nitrogen to various body tissues, and provides the nitrogen required for synthesis of purines and pyrimidines, and is also needed for producing other amino acids.
» Glutamine aids the recovery from tissue trauma, and is an essential component of wound-healing process.
Side Effects of Glutamine Supplementation
Glutamine is a major component of many health drinks, and is available in the powdered form as well as in the form of tablets and capsules. Generally, our body is tolerant towards it, and the average dietary intake of glutamine has been observed to range from 1 to 6 g per day.
Although, glutamine consumption up to 14 g per day is considered safe, the recommended upper limit for glutamine supplementation is 1.5 g per day. High doses are prescribed for therapeutic purposes and must be resorted to only after appropriate professional consultation.
Prolonged intake of glutamine beyond the amounts required by the body, may lead to gastrointestinal problems like nausea, vomiting, flatulence and gastric distress. Excess amount of glutamine may bring about an increase in the levels of liver enzymes.
Kidney Function and Glutamine
The elderly, and other individuals with renal disorders, are more sensitive to glutamine levels in the body. This is because glutamine catabolism occurs in the kidneys, and these individuals exhibit lowered kidney function. In such cases, professional consultation must be sought before consumption of glutamine supplements, so as to correctly identify the need and dosage.
Rare Side Effects
|Allergic Reactions||Nervous System Side Effects|
|Immunologic Side Effects||Respiratory Side Effects|
|Musculoskeletal Side Effects||Genitourinary Side Effects|
|Cardiovascular Side Effects||Metabolic Side Effects|
» If you are suffering from any kidney or liver disease, mention it to your physician before any medication is prescribed.
» If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, avoid products containing glutamine, since its efficacy and safety with respect to these aspects is not clearly evaluated.
» Glutamine powder should not be taken with any hot beverage as heat dissolves the amino acids.
» RDA does not give any prescribed dosage, however, more than 40 grams of glutamine may be harmful.
» Children under the age of 10 should not be administered glutamine, unless advised by the doctor.
» Before starting any medication, always consult a professional healthcare expert regarding diet and dosage. In case you notice any of the above cited side effects of glutamine, you should immediately stop the supplement, and consult a medical professional for necessary intervention.
Is Glutamine Supplementation Beneficial?
Glutamine plays a vital role in strengthening our immune system. It removes excess ammonia from our system and improves the digestion process. Our muscle tissues, lungs and brain are the major and efficient producers of glutamine. However, at times our body may require external supply for proper functioning. When our body is under immense stress due to an injury, critical ailment, or surgery, a hormone termed cortisol is released into the bloodstream. This hormone, if present in high amount in the blood, weakens the immune system. Glutamine intake has been proved to counter this effect. It also speeds up the process of wound healing.
Weight loss in HIV or AIDS victims can be overcome with health drinks that contain glutamine, along with other nutrients. Also, patients undergoing chemotherapy often suffer from malnutrition and lowered immunity. Studies have shown that glutamine supplements can be helpful to treat mouth sores, nerve pain and diarrhea in cancer and sickle cell anemia patients.
Athletes undergoing intensive endurance training are often advised by their trainer to include either natural or supplements of glutamine in their diet.
Disclaimer: This NutriNeat article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.