L-glutamine is an amino acid that is produced naturally in the body. It is considered a non-essential amino acid because the body typically produces sufficient quantities without the need for additional sources. However, there are some instances where supplementation with glutamine is beneficial to health, leading many to refer to this as a conditionally essential amino acid. Glutamine and L-glutamine are used interchangeably when referring to the naturally occurring form rather than that which is synthetically made.
Why Take L-Glutamine Suppements
Certain illnesses, injuries, medical treatments, and activities will deplete the body’s natural stores of this amino acid, making it necessary to take supplements of glutamine to replenish the body instead of waiting until it can produce more, which may take up to a week once it has been depleted. L-glutamine can be found in certain protein powder products or singly as a supplement by itself. You can also obtain this amino acid in plant and animal products that are high in protein.
L-glutamine is used by the body to properly metabolize protein for use. This amino acid is necessary for proper functioning of the digestive system and the immune system. It is important for healthy brain function as well. Glutamine is also important to remove toxic ammonia from the body. When levels of glutamine are depleted, these body functions are all negatively affected. Muscle tissue might even be digested in order for the body to obtain proper amounts of glutamine for other areas of the body.
Recovery from Illness or Injury. Those who suffer severe trauma to the body due to extreme illness, severe burns, and other injuries need the healing and strengthening benefits of glutamine. The body produces excess stress hormone called cortisol, which depletes glutamine levels. Supplementation with this amino acid is necessary for proper recovery and healing.
Cancer Treatment. Those undergoing certain treatments for cancer, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, often experience weakened immune systems as a result. Glutamine levels are also depleted during these treatments. Supplementation with L-glutamine is effective in many ways for patients undergoing cancer treatment:
- Strengthens the immune system
- Reduces toxicity of certain cancer treatments
- Increases the effectiveness of certain cancer treatments
- Prevents glutamine depletion in muscles
Those who have undergone surgery for certain types of cancer can also benefit from L-glutamine supplements. The positive healing effects help those patients to heal more quickly allowing for shorter hospital stays with a reduced risk of post-surgical side effects.
Athletes and Body Builders. Those who engage in strenuous workouts use up their glutamine stores. These individuals are at increased risk of developing illness and infections if they do not replace depleted glutamine stores in the body. Also, weight training causes small tears in the muscles. As the body repairs these tears, the muscles grow stronger. Glutamine carries nitrogen to tissues and helps to repair and strengthen muscles from heavy workouts, while encouraging the production of growth hormones necessary to make muscles grow larger. L-glutamine also helps muscles retain more water and helps reduce the risk of fatigue.
Digestion. L-glutamine has been shown to be effective in helping to reduce many symptoms of gastrointestinal problems. Those with ulcers, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and irritable bowel syndrome seem to benefit from supplementation with glutamine. Glutamine is naturally found in high levels in the digestive tract in healthy individuals. Improper diet and unhealthy lifestyle choices all affect and reduce the levels of glutamine, resulting in many gastrointestinal disturbances. This amino acid can strengthen the lining in the stomach and intestines, reducing the symptoms of gastrointestinal issues.
Wasting. Certain illnesses and diseases may lead to muscle wasting and weight loss, such as HIV/AIDS infection. Supplementation with L-glutamine and other appropriate nutrients can help slow down the progression of muscle tissue loss and help these individuals to maintain their weight. Strengthening of the lining og the intestines also allows for more nutrients to be absorbed and to be used appropriately by the body, increasing overall health.
Brain Functioning and Mood Regulation. L-glutamine readily crosses the blood-brain barrier to be used as a nutritional source for the brain. Glutamine prevents excess ammonia build up that could negatively affect the brain’s functioning as well. Some have found supplementation with this amino acid helpful at reducing symptoms associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is believed that glutamine might even help alleviate many symptoms associated with mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, by relieving moodiness and irritability and reducing insomnia.