6 benefits of supplementing with glutamine

Glutamine is an amino acid recognized as non-essential, since many tissues in our body produce it. However, the Journal of Endocrinology and Nutrition, notes that today it is the most versatile of human functioning.

Due to the above, it has been given the category of "semi-essential", since when the body exceeds its production capacity, it must be ingested as a supplement, especially in stressful situations.

There are many controversies about whether it is advisable to consume it frequently. Therefore, we invite you to continue reading to find out about its function, the proven benefits and its adverse effects.

What is the role of glutamine?

The journal Intensive Care Medicine refers to glutamine as the most abundant amino acid in the blood and in the muscle, where it is 30 times more concentrated. Due to this characteristic, it participates in many biochemical processes of the body. What are its most relevant functions?

  • It is a source of energy for muscle cells, lymphocytes, the kidney and the intestine.
  • It is essential to form glycogen, the main source of stored energy in the body.
  • It can form other amino acids such as aspartate and alanine.
  • Produces ammonia to help maintain kidney balance
  • It is used as a base to form neurotransmitters, glutathione, and other proteins.

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the blood. It stands out for being a main source of energy.

6 benefits of glutamine

According to a review published in the journal Nutriens, glutamine plays an important role in the functions of the immune system. For this reason, it is generally credited with various health benefits. We reveal them in detail below.

1. Muscle benefit during training

Glutamine represents 60% of all amino acids in muscle and is a primary nitrogen vehicle for the cell. When intense and prolonged exercise occurs, glutamine levels drop rapidly and strength and stamina are lost. Under normal conditions, it takes up to 6 days for the muscle to recover.

  • According to the journal Hospital Nutrition, these supplements can improve muscle protein metabolism and reverse wasting.
  • Likewise, studies have concluded that glutamine supplementation increases strength and muscle growth in experimental animals with exercise-induced muscle injury.
  • Other experts believe that intense exercise has a direct oxidative effect on muscle tissue cells. Consequently, the muscle becomes inflamed, but the nitrogen from glutamine fuels the immune system to restore it. However, the mechanism is still not entirely clear.
  • Meanwhile, Agostini and Biolo share that this amino acid helps to recover glycogen, a molecule that stores energy. Therefore, avoid fatigue and muscle exhaustion. Thus, greater strength and performance are obtained from exercise.

2. Mental health

Some psychiatrists comment that glutamine increases the production of GABA, a neurotransmitter whose low levels are associated with anxiety disorders, insomnia, depression and schizophrenia. However, as depression is a multicausal disorder, not all patients react the same to treatment with the supplement.

Other evidence was presented at the Medicine Research Congress. It was published that 70% of patients with generalized anxiety disorders, who received 900 milligrams or more of glutamine supplement, managed to improve symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Also read: Chronic depression: how does it affect people?

3. Gut health

A review in the The Journal of Nutrition suggests that glutamine supplements may be beneficial for the gut. On the one hand, it participates as a source of nitrogen for the intestinal cell. Moreover, it can improve the intestinal immune system.

Another publication states that these supplements – used in laboratory trials – were effective in improving irritable bowel, infectious enteritis and other related diseases. Still, no results have been found from studies on the intestinal tract.

4. Glutamine and diabetes

A review of 14 articles determined that there is a positive relationship between glutamine and the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Ingesting between 15 and 30 grams per day of the supplement increases a protein called GLP-1 peptide at the level of intestinal cells. .

GLP-1 enhances the insulin response in tissues to transport blood sugar. In addition, it maintains the development of the cells of the pancreas. This amino acid also may contribute to the reduction of complications in type 2 diabetic patients, but there are not enough studies available to recommend its regular use.

5. Glutamine and its relationship with cancer

Some studies concluded that the administration of 30 grams of glutamine per day reduces the post-treatment symptoms of different types of cancer, both in adults and children. However, the number of trials is not enough to suggest it as part of treatment in cancer patients.

6. Immunity and glutamine

The Institute of Nutrition and Eating Disorders of Madrid establishes that glutamine is a fuel for immunocompetent cells that will form lymphocytes, cytokines and phagocytosis by macrophages. In addition, he found a positive correlation between the activity of natural killer (NK) cells and an adequate concentration of glutamine in the blood.

On the other hand, the doctor in pharmacy, Adela Gómez, emphasizes the role of this amino acid on the immune system, since being an energy substrate for the enterocyte, keeps the intestinal barrier mucosa intact against possible infections.

Glutamine is associated with an optimal functioning of the immune system.

Read also: The immune system: our army against diseases.

Side effects

Before incorporating glutamine as a nutritional supplement, you should consult with your doctor, as it can cause allergic reactions such as hives, swelling, itching, among others. Other adverse effects may be the following:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Dehydration or abdominal pain.
  • Headache.
  • Cough.
  • Back pain or lower or upper limbs.

Who should not take glutamine as a supplement?

Anyone with a kidney disorder the excretion of toxic substances from the degradation of proteins and nitrogenous substances such as amino acids may be compromised. Therefore, it is recommended to refrain from taking glutamine supplements.

In liver disorders, such as cirrhosis, inflammation of the liver, among others, the use of the supplement is not indicated. This amino acid has 2 nitrogen groups that produce a lot of ammonia, a substance that can be toxic to the brain, since the liver cannot metabolize it when it is sick.

In short, taking glutamine as a supplement should be under the advice of a health or sports professional. It is important to know the advantages and disadvantages of its use, as well as the appropriate dose for each case.