what you need to know about glutamine(L-glutamine)

Amino acids are the building block of protein and after water are the second most abundant compound in humans and mammals.

L-glutamine is a semi-essential amino acid(or conditionally essential amino acid which means human body is normally capable of synthesizing enough to meet its needs But under certain conditions like long stressful periods, injury, surgery, high intensity training sessions or prematurity condition,  additional glutamine may be required). It also is the most versatile and abundant amino acid in our blood vessels(at a concentration of around 500-900 µmol/l) and our muscle cells(Approximately 80% of the body glutamine is found in the skeletal muscles).

l-glutamine is involved in more metabolic processes than any other amino acid.

When the body does not have a readily available source of glucose, the body converts glutamine into glucose(gluconeogenesis).

Glutamine helps vastly in balancing body’s acid-base ratio and removing excess ammonia(a toxic waste product of deamination reactions).

Glutamine and athletic performance

Glutamine serves as a fuel source for the cells lining the intestine tracks, and without it, these cells may waste away, that is most important reason coaches and doctors advise athletes to take glutamine especially during fat loss diets or long fasting periods; to help digestive system stay healthy since it promotes gut mucosal integrity by acting as an fuel source and preventing bacterial translocation to help absorb nutrients coming from foods(which has become even less during fat-loss diet).

The liver has big roles, one of them is metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and drugs and substances. glutamine is crucial for energy metabolism and proliferation of hepatocytes in the liver. In addition, glutamine is an important precursor for gluconeogenesis, the process of glucose production from other non-carbohydrate constituents, which is a central metabolic pathway in the liver that allows maintenance of blood glucose levels in fasting and starvation conditions following depletion of glycogen stores.

People who are not on a fat loss diet or do not fast also can benefit from L-glutamine since it helps to a large extent in insulin secretion and muscle protein synthesis.

Glutamine is actively transported into cells through a sodium-dependent channel system, whose outcome is a consumption of ATP.

Another great role played by glutamine is its capacity to help in formation of protective and resistance responses to injuries, which are also known as antioxidant and cytoprotective effects. An athlete who has trained under high intensity levels for so long is highly prone to injuries and this property is going to be beneficial for him.

glutamine uptake is believed to enhance cell swelling and hydration especially hepatocyte volume. It can be related to some degree to the fact that glutamine importation and exportation also affect osmotic balance and therefore influences hepatocyte volume which regulates anabolic processes, such as glycogen, lipid, and protein synthesis which leads to increased glycogen and fatty acid synthesis and the more body synthesized glycogen and fatty acid and stores them, the more water it needs.

Aside from fitness purposes, Immune cells largely depend on glutamine availability to survive and function, and ultimately defend our body against pathogens. L-glutamine is also used to cure some of the side effects of chemotherapy or to promote healing in people with serious burns(a 2009 study from India reported that L-glutamine reduced bacterial situations as well as hospital stays by almost 17 days).

Needless to say we still need lots of research on glutamine since it has not been fully sifted through yet.

Glutamine natural food sources

  • chicken
  • fish
  • cabbage
  • spinach
  • dairy
  • tofu
  • lentils
  • beans
  • beets
  • peas