By: Stephanie Anderson
Have you ever heard of L-glutamine powder? It almost sounds like something out of a sci-fi picture, but really glutamine is the most abundant protein in the human body and plays a huge role in immune system and intestinal health. Although the body naturally contains it in large numbers, supplementing with L-glutamine powder with a regular diet may have tremendous positive results.
Research on glutamine goes as far back as 1883, when German chemists Ernst Schulze and E. Bosshard isolated it from the juice of sugar beets (x). The fitness industry was the first to use it in powder form—namely bodybuilders to preserve muscle tissue—but also for weight loss, burning fat and building muscle (x).
What is L-Glutamine?
Think briefly back to your high school science class and recall the term “amino acids.” Glutamine is one of them. The body requires 20 essential and nonessential amino acids in order to produce various proteins. Because amino acids are the chemical components—the building blocks, so to speak—of proteins, they are essentially the building blocks of life, since protein is a must-have for the body to work properly. There are different types of amino acids (x):
- Essential amino acids, which the body does not produce on its own, so we must get them from our food
- Nonessential amino acids, which the body does produce on its own (including glutamine)
- Conditionally essential amino acids, which are more important in times of bodily stress or illness. Glutamine is also conditionally essential.
Of all the amino acids, essential or not, glutamine is the most abundant. Its release into the body lies mostly with key metabolic organs, like the liver and skeletal muscles that produce glutamic acid. Glutamic acid is typically released into the muscles, lungs and brain (x). Of all the places that use glutamic acid, the muscles consume the most, since they are most often in need of repair.
Glutamine also serves another major part of the body: the gut. Once glutamine metabolizes in the liver, much of it goes into maintaining gut health, mainly that of the intestines. Glutamine is essential for maintaining the integrity of the intestinal wall, which helps prevent certain toxins from entering the bloodstream. The body utilizes whatever nutrients it can get from food and those nutrients enter the body from the digestive system (x).
Glutamine vs. Glutamate
Keep in mind that L-glutamine and glutamate are two different amino acids, even though they sound similar to one another. Despite their differences, one of them is actually created from the other. With the help of the enzyme glutamine synthetase, glutamate synthesizes with ammonia to create glutamine (x).
In addition, both glutamine and glutamate are essential for brain function. They are both neurotransmitters, which carry messages from the neurons throughout the body, but they have different functions—glutamine is inhibitory and glutamate is excitatory. An inhibitory neurotransmitter prevents electrical signals in the receiving neuron, whereas an excitatory neurotransmitter promotes these electrical signals (x). Basically, messages pass between neurons at different rates depending on the type of neurotransmitter—inhibitory or excitatory.
What is L-Glutamine Powder Used for?
So L-glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body, but what difference does that make? What can this oh so important protein do for the common patient? Better yet, if the body runs low, how can you get more of it? Some of the roles that glutamine plays in the body include:
- Immunity & intestinal health
- Exercise performance
Immune System & Intestinal Health
Whether or not the body is generally healthy, immune cells consume L-glutamine faster than any other amino acid—even more than glucose (x). Glutamine’s greatest power lies in keeping the integrity of the intestinal wall. Because glutamine is a protein, it is a fuel source for the intestinal cells as well as white blood cells. Generally, proteins factor heavily in physical repair so they can heal wounds and damaged muscles. But that’s not all. Because proteins play a huge part in boosting the immune system and glutamine is heavily supplied to white blood cells, it can naturally help protect the body against various diseases.
For example, leaky gut syndrome is an autoimmune disease that can affect the intestines. The intestinal wall is lined by a protective series of proteins that absorb nutrients into the bloodstream. Leaky gut syndrome causes this protective layer to malfunction, allowing more toxins to pass into the bloodstream to the rest of the body (x). Supplementing leaky gut with L-glutamine may potentially decrease the permeability of the intestine, making it harder for toxins to leak out of the gut into the body (x). As a matter of fact, animal studies suggest that including L-glutamine powder into the diet may increase the patient’s ability to fight bacteria (x).
How Does Glutamine Work with the Immune System?
The immune system consumes more glutamine than any other protein. However, although the body produces a hefty supply of glutamine, the body may sometimes exceed that supply, especially after an endurance exercise or during an illness. That means there is less glutamine available for the immune system to use and it is less able to defend against infection as a result. (Remember that glutamine is a fuel source for white blood cells) (x).
Most cells in the body can function with a quick and easy turnover of nutrients, but the immune system is not quite as lucky. Because the immune system endures more catabolic (breakdown of molecules) stress than other parts of the body, its need for nutrients can sometimes override its supply (x). Glutamine works with the immune system to create barriers against toxins, so a high blood concentration is important to fight infection and disease.
This might sound surprising, but there are links between prolonged exercise and leaky gut syndrome. How can something as healthy as exercise possibly be linked to an autoimmune disease? It’s true, exercise is great, but too much of it may be unhealthy as well. According to studies, a two-hour long moderately intense workout may increase the risk of damaging the gut. That is, too much exercise can cause the intestines to start leaking toxins (x). If you exercise in a hot environment, it can also cause heat stress and reduce blood flow. Blood carries oxygen between cells, so when the cells don’t receive enough oxygen, they begin to break down. Losing these cells, especially along the intestinal barrier, makes it easier for toxins to leak into the bloodstream.
Exercise Performance & Muscle Mass
During exercise, the body becomes more stressed and depending on the exercise’s intensity, the muscles and tendons may use more glutamine than the body can supply. Several studies indicate that supplementing with L-glutamine may help improve strength and repair the muscles, especially on an intense training program (x). Some studies even indicate the supplement may have anti-fatigue factors as well, meaning that glutamine may delay fatigue, but not eliminate it altogether (x). A few of these same studies indicate a delay in fatigue and muscle recovery, but not necessarily an increase in physical performance (x).
How Does Glutamine Work in Muscle Synthesis?
The body has to be able to respond appropriately to what a person consumes, capturing all the nutrients from food. The enzyme glutamine synthetase—which builds glutamine—helps this process by controlling nitrogen use within the cells. Glutamine does help produce a lot of protein, but it also helps deliver nitrogen to nitrogen-rich cells, namely amino acids and DNA bases (x). Glutamine synthetase monitors the amount of nitrogen-rich cells and consequently slows or speeds up production of those cells depending on the circumstances.
Glutamine synthetase has twelve active subunits—all of which are production sites for glutamine—on a single molecule. During this reaction, an active site bonds to ammonia and glutamate, as well as to an ATP molecule, which powers the reaction (x).
Rather than making a plain list of nutrients, it’s more productive to ask the question: What foods have glutamine? Although glutamine is already abundant within the body, it’s a good idea to consume protein-rich foods to keep protein levels up throughout the day. The good news is that any food high in protein is high in glutamine as well. So these foods are all wonderful choices to keep glutamine levels stable (x):
How to Take L-Glutamine
Although glutamine supplements are generally safe, it’s still a good idea to know how and when to take it and to consult a doctor before taking it or any other supplement. Always remember to follow your doctor’s instructions. The recommended dosage for L-glutamine powder is 500-1,000 mg up to three times per day, preferably before a workout, or as directed by a physician.
Possible Side Effects of L-Glutamine Powder
Although glutamine supplements may cause some side effects, there is little risk in healthy quantities. An overdose of the supplement is not even expected to produce life-threatening symptoms, though it is certainly advised to avoid exceeding healthy daily servings (x). That being said, the supplement may cause the following side effects:
On the other hand, contact a doctor immediately if you experience any of these more serious side effects:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty hearing
- Signs of infection (fever, chills, sore throat, flu symptoms, mouth sores, unusual weakness)
Note that this is not a complete list of side effects. Patients should always talk to a doctor before taking L-glutamine as a supplement.
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Pregnant or nursing patients should also exercise caution if they supplement with L-glutamine. There is no controlled data on how the supplement affects pregnancy or excretion into human breast milk after oral consumption and researchers do not know how it may affect nursing infants (x).
Where to Buy L-Glutamine Powder
You can purchase pure L-glutamine in powder and capsule form at BulkSupplements.com. The company is an industry-leading manufacturer and distributor for pure dietary supplements. BulkSupplements.com is not just a consumer brand. It also supplies pure ingredients to other brands that distribute other food and supplement products. All products at BulkSupplements.com are manufactured and tested according to current and proper manufacturing practices.
Are you interested in trying pure L-glutamine as a dietary supplement to potentially support digestive and immune system health, as well as aid muscle recovery? Contact BulkSupplements.com to place an order today.
Glutamine might not be a household nutrient name, but it is the most abundant—and one of the most important—nutrients in the body, thanks to its tremendous healing power. Because the human body sometimes undergoes a lot of mental and physical stress, glutamine is essential for muscle recovery and assisting with lung and brain function. On top of that, the amino acid naturally helps support gut health by replenishing the cells that line the intestinal wall to prevent toxins from seeping into the bloodstream.
Although the body produces glutamine, it might be an effective supplement, especially for those who exercise heavily or suffer from a physical injury or illness. You can also maintain glutamine levels in the body with foods heavy in proteins, such as meat, eggs, fish and nuts. In other cases, you may choose to take supplements to get a controlled dose. Even though it may benefit the body, there is no concrete evidence that glutamine supplements can cure, treat or prevent any disease, illness or medical condition. Always consult a doctor for approval before taking any supplements.
**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.