Glutamine: A Guide on What to Know

Of the many workout supplements available, glutamine has taken its place as one of the must-haves. Most anyone looking to build muscle and bulk up will include glutamine as part of their supplement regimen. 

Glutamine is an amino acid. To this extent, it is simply one necessary nutrient among all the others. But researchers and fitness people have found that glutamine supplements offer much more than simple nutrition. 

Glutamine can help with the soreness and fatigue that comes from serious exercise and training. It helps speed recovery time by providing a powerful source of nitrogen to damaged cells. The breakdown and repair of muscle tissue is part of the training process, and glutamine boosts the effectiveness of this natural process. 

But, like any other exercise supplement, there are always questions about the effectiveness and safety of glutamine. While anecdotal evidence can serve as proof for many people, others may want to see some science behind the claims behind the use of glutamine as a supplement. 

If you are new to supplements, or if you are new to the use of glutamine supplements, this guide is designed to give you all you need to know about glutamine. What exactly is glutamine? How does glutamine work? And how do you get the most from taking glutamine supplements? 

What Is Glutamine?

Glutamine is an amino acid and is one of the building blocks of proteins. In our bodies, proteins form muscles, transport essential substances in the blood, and help the immune system. As an amino acid, glutamine is essential to maintaining your health. 

Many amino acids exist in two forms. Glutamine is one of these amino acids. It exists as L-glutamine and D-glutamine. Though these molecules look identical, the two forms of glutamine function differently because they have a different molecular arrangement. 

The form that is found in foods and supplements is L-glutamine, although it is often listed as glutamate. L-glutamine is essential for building proteins. It is one of the most abundant amino acids in our bodies. 

Yet, there are times when our bodies require more L-glutamine that we can produce which means we need to get it from our diet or another source such as a supplement. Injuries and illnesses can require more L-glutamine than we normally need. It is this biochemical function that has led to the development of glutamine as a sports supplement. 

How does it work?

Glutamine can be synthesized by the body and it can be obtained from a variety of food sources such as eggs, beef, milk, and tofu. 

Glutamine is metabolized and converted into muscle tissue as well as key components of the circulatory system. Since glutamine is important to so many metabolic functions including the gut, liver, and skeletal muscles, it is considered essential not only to good health but to heal the body after injury or illness. 

Glutamine has also been found to work toward restoring the inter-tissue metabolism of amino acids. This means that glutamine can play a vital role in repairing the damage from intense muscle strain such as the kind we incur from high-intensity fitness training. For this reason, glutamine has emerged as an important supplement for athletes. 

One of the main medical uses of glutamine is to assist in recovery from trauma, severe illness, and even surgery. Glutamine works by providing nitrogen to wounds and other tissues. This allows these tissue systems to function after they have been damaged. It is this nitrogen boost that glutamine provides that has led people to see a link between the medical uses of glutamine and its potential as a workout supplement. 

Glutamine Uses

Currently, glutamine is used for a variety of essential medical purposes. As a supplement, glutamine has been found to be highly effective in helping to treat some specific illnesses and injuries. These include:

  • Sickle cell disease: Glutamine has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of sickle cell disease. It can reduce the number of stays in the hospital for people who suffer from this disease and can increase recovery rates. 
  • Burns: Administering glutamine through a feeding tube has life-saving effects for people with severe burns. Specifically, glutamine can help fight infections for people with severe burns. 
  • Critical illnesses and trauma: Glutamine appears to keep bacteria from forming in the gut during critical injuries and illnesses. This can help people whose immune systems are seriously compromised to focus their immune capabilities on recovering from the illness or the trauma. Glutamine also helps fight against hospital-acquired infections that can come with severe injuries and illnesses. 
  • Involuntary weight-loss associated with HIV/AIDS: Glutamine supplements have been shown to help people suffering from HIV/AIDS to absorb more nutrients from the food they eat. This helps combat the weight loss common to this condition. 
  • Recover from surgery: Intravenous glutamine can reduce recovery time for people who have had abdominal surgery. It also assists the immune system after surgery and can help with bone marrow growth. This last is especially important for people who have had bone marrow transplants. 

Glutamine Benefits

In addition to the therapeutic and medical uses of glutamine listed above, there are some basic metabolic functions for which glutamine is essential. AS an amino acid, glutamine is metabolized in various ways throughout the body. Of the major areas of importance for glutamine, the following is most prominent: 

Muscle Gain and Exercise Performance

Because glutamine is essential to building muscle, it would appear obvious that it would work as a supplement for muscle gain. One study showed that people taking glutamine supplements developed significant muscle gain ager six weeks. 

In addition to building muscle, glutamine supplements were also clinically shown to reduce muscle fatigue and soreness associated with high-intensity training. In fact, one study demonstrated that glutamine supplements helped reduce a blood marker of fatigue in as little as two hours. 

Immune System

Given that glutamine is already prescribed for medical purposes, it is easy to see that it has tremendous benefits for the immune system. Glutamine is a crucial fuel for immune cells like white blood cells that play a critical role in the immune system. 

The immune system can get depleted especially during times of illness or injury. Burns are especially taxing to the immune system. This means that the body’s need for glutamine will outpace its ability to produce it. In fact, your body may begin to break down muscle tissue in order to access more glutamine. This is when a glutamine supplement can become necessary. 

In these situations, glutamine supplements may be prescribed to boost the immune system. Glutamine supplements taken during situations of critical illness and trauma have been shown to decrease infections and reduce hospital stays. 

Other research has shown that glutamine supplements can help fight bacterial and viral infections. 

Intestinal Health

The immune system benefits of glutamine are related to its role in intestinal health. In fact, the intestines are considered the largest part of the body’s immune system. Many of the cells that line the intestinal system are part of the immune system. Glutamine is a crucial source of food for this intestinal/ immune system. 

The cells that line the intestinal system prevent bacteria from passing into the body and causing serious infections. It also acts as a wall against toxins passing into the body. In order to maintain this system, your body requires a steady flow of glutamine as a source of fuel. 

Glutamine ensures that the intestinal system remains healthy, and this also supports the immune system. 

Glutamine Dosage

Glutamine is an amino acid and is naturally produced by the body. It is also readily available in a variety of foods. Given this, there is no real danger from glutamine in normal quantities. 

A normal diet contains an estimated 3 to 6 grams of glutamine per day. This obviously varies according to your diet. 

Researchers have studied doses of glutamine that range from 5 grams to 45 grams for day and found no signs of ill effects.  Other studies have demonstrated that there are no safety concerns for up to 14 grams per day. 

If you are taking glutamine as an exercise supplement, it is recommended that you begin with a dose of 5 grams per day. While no serious side effects have been noted with taking glutamine supplements, there is the possibility that too much glutamine can inhibit the body's ability to absorb other amino acids. This would end up being counter-productive for a training program. 

Glutamine Side Effects

The only real side effect of taking glutamine supplements has been that it can reduce your body’s ability to absorb other amino acids. It should be noted that these side effects, and the relative safety of glutamine supplements, have only been studied for periods up to six weeks. Long term use and the potential side effects of long-term use are still not known. 

The only danger from taking glutamine is to people who already suffer from severe liver disease. Especially people who have difficulty thinking clearly due to liver disease. This is called hepatic encephalopathy, and glutamine can make this condition worse. 

Best Glutamine Supplement

With the popularity of glutamine supplements, you can be sure there are plenty of them on the market. Sorting through the choices can be a chore in itself. NF Sports offers a top of the line glutamine supplement. NF Sports Glutamine is known to hep gut function boost the immune system, and other essential processes, especially during times of high physical stress. It also provides nitrogen as a fuel to help cells in the body recover. 

Glutamine FAQS

What is glutamine?

Glutamine is a natural amino acid. It is synthesized by our own bodies and it is found in a variety of dietary sources. It is one of the most abundant amino acids in our bodies and is essential for building muscle, components of our blood, and for numerous other biological systems. 

How is glutamine used?

It has been found to be beneficial for several medical purposes. Glutamine is prescribed for sickle cell disease, to help treat serious infections, and to boost the immune system after trauma or serious illness. 

Is glutamine beneficial for building muscle?

Glutamine supplements have been shown to help build muscle. More precisely, glutamine is effective in reducing soreness and fatigue associated with high-intensity training. 

How much glutamine should I take?

The recommended dose of glutamine is 5 grams per day to begin. You can safely use as much as 45 grams per day.

Are there any side effects of glutamine?

The only known glutamine side effect is in high doses. This may impede the body’s ability to absorb other amino acids.

What are the benefits of glutamine?

Glutamine is known to help boost your immune system, help with intestinal functions, and assist in recovery from illness and physical trauma.  

Wrapping things up

Glutamine is simply an amino acid. It is produced by our own bodies. We can also get glutamine from a variety of foods. As an amino acid, glutamine is one of the building blocks of muscle cells. It also plays an important role in numerous other biological functions. 

Among the important roles, glutamine plays in our bodies is as a major source of fuel for our immune system. Glutamine makes it possible to fight infection and recover from serious physical injury. 

Because glutamine plays such an important part of the processes that allow physical tissue and systems to recover, it is a natural leap to use glutamine as a supplement for exercise and training. Many of the biological processes of physical recovery from a trauma are involved when we work our bodies with exercise and high-intensity training. Glutamine has been shown to help with the recovery from exercise and help build muscle in the long run. 

Glutamine is also known to be safe. It has almost no negative side effects. Given that glutamine can assist the body with building muscle and with recovery from soreness and fatigue from exercise, and it is safe, it has become a great addition to the choices of workout supplements.


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