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What is Glutamine?

Michael Pollick
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Scientifically speaking, glutamine is one of the 20 amino acids formed by the human body. It is considered a non-essential amino acid because it can be derived from glutamic acid, another member of the amino acid family. Both glutamine and glutamic acid can be found in protein-rich foods such as beans, red meat, nuts and fish. The body uses this amino acide to improve mental function, control blood sugar levels and maintain muscle mass, among other applications.

As a supplement, glutamine is seen as both a "brain food" and a muscle mass enhancer for body builders. Physicians have been known to use it for the treatment of alcoholism, mild depression and muscle-wasting conditions such as Huntington's disease. Glutamine is actually the most common free-form amino acid found floating in muscle tissues. During times of stress, the body may draw it away from the muscles in order to bolster the immune system or prevent blood sugar reactions. This is why many bodybuilders and other proponents of supplements often add daily doses of glutamine to maintain good muscle health.

The average diet provides anywhere from 5 to 8 grams of glutamine a day. It would not be unusual for bodybuilders in training to boost this level to 10 grams or more with supplements. Others who need to control their blood sugar levels may also benefit from additional amounts of this amino acid. Some non-scientific studies suggest that it may also help improve mental function, because the body naturally uses it to transport nitrogen to the brain and nervous system.

The human body does require a daily intake of glutamine, so the use of supplements is not generally seen as harmful or unnecessary. Higher doses may cause unpleasant side effects such as diarrhea, but most healthy bodies can safely assimilate the excess amino acid. Supplemental glutamine simply remains suspended in muscle tissue unless drawn away for other uses by the body. Some people also discover that higher levels reduce their desire for sweets or between-meal snacks.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to The Health Board, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
By anon180094 — On May 25, 2011

Can amino acid decrease blood pressure and cholesterol?

By anon145386 — On Jan 23, 2011

Can I take 100 percent L-Glutamine u.s.p with fat burners, will I get any side effects?

By anon126546 — On Nov 13, 2010

I have Raynauds disease and my hands are numb, white, blue and then turn red when the blood comes back every day just opening the refrigerator.

I was told to try L-Glutamine. What do you think?

By anon126312 — On Nov 12, 2010

is it true that Glutamine will control the desire for alcohol?

By anon109535 — On Sep 08, 2010

Are glutamine and L-glutimine the same thing?

By anon74171 — On Mar 31, 2010

how many products are there when glutamine is titrated?

By anon70057 — On Mar 11, 2010

Glutamine is the most abundant naturally occurring, non-essential amino acid in the human body and one of the few amino acids which directly crosses the blood-brain barrier.

In the body it is found circulating in the blood as well as stored in the skeletal muscles. It becomes conditionally essential (requiring intake from food or supplements) in states of illness or injury.

By anon67820 — On Feb 26, 2010

Please tell me what are the uses of L-Glutamine?

By anon66515 — On Feb 20, 2010

Glutamine is one of the amino acids which are the building blocks of muscle. glutamine sr occurs in each protein source. Protein sources are meat, fish, cereals, beans, etc. Today it is possible to find L-Glutamine in pure form as a nutritional supplement to take. Nutrimax

By anon42763 — On Aug 23, 2009

can glutamine help with low platelet count?

By anon40632 — On Aug 10, 2009

please tell me what does glutamine do? and is it good for that person who is taking nitro muscle tech with fat burner same brand?

By anon36799 — On Jul 14, 2009

Glutamine itself is simply an amino acid and does not contain any wheat, gluten, dairy, or any other known allergens. Just make sure when purchasing glutamine, that it is in fact pure L-Glutamine (and does not contain any allergens).

Source: I myself am gluten intolerant and take 4 grams a day to help speed up my recovery.

By marmar — On May 23, 2009

if a person is gluten intolerant, does that mean that he should not take the glutamine supplement, even through injection?

By anon8597 — On Feb 17, 2008

what other side effects does it have?. as per se any sexual side effects?

By anon4383 — On Oct 16, 2007

What is meant by high potent molecules, how they are classified, what precautions should be taken for handling them?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to The Health Board, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide...
Learn more
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