Glutamine, the most abundant and versatile free amino acid in the body, also appears to be the most active amino acid due to its involvement in numerous metabolic functions. It plays a vital role in protein and glutathione synthesis, energy production, immune function and the maintenance of optimal antioxidant status. Essential for maintaining intestinal function and mucosal integrity, as well as the repair and maintenance of gut barrier function, glutamine is a precursor for the synthesis of proteins, ribonucleotides and vitamins and also serves as a major energy source for cell division by providing nitrogen when glucose is low. As well, glutamine aids in the maintenance of normal blood glucose and proper acid/base balance.
As a main fuel source for a large number of cells, amino acid availability is fundamental to cell survival, maintenance and proliferation. The majority of glutamine is synthesized and stored in the muscles and lungs, and is released into circulation by key metabolic organs, including the gut, liver and skeletal muscles. Glutamine is so essential to immune function that the rate of glutamine consumption by immune cells, which often function under nutrient restricted microenvironments, is comparable to or greater than that of glucose. The body’s biochemical and metabolic pathways control pathogen infections by increasing amino acid catabolism, aiding immune response and helping to control inflammatory responses to infections.
Recent studies have highlighted the critical role of glutamine in the maintenance of intestinal barrier integrity. It is estimated that during a normal lifetime, 60 tons of food passes through the gastrointestinal tract, posing a continuous threat to the integrity of the multifunctional, rapidly proliferating epithelial cells that line mucosal walls. A healthy functioning gut barrier is essential for the absorption of nutrients and the rejection of pathogens, toxins and allergens. Mucosal barrier dysfunction is associated with increased gut permeability and the development of multiple gastrointestinal and autoimmune diseases. Glutamine is reported to enhance intestinal absorptive cell proliferation and regulate intestinal barrier function during injury, infection and other conditions.
Growing evidence supports the theory that glutamine is a nutritionally essential amino acid for newborns and a conditionally essential amino acid for adults. As a functional amino acid with multiple physiological roles, glutamine may protect the gut from atrophy and injury from a diverse number of stress-related conditions characterized by chronic inflammation, such as stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. It’s theorized that chronic stress can lead to a poorly functioning immune system and change the balance of the gut microbiota, allowing ulcer-inducing H. pylori and other harmful bacteria to thrive.
Traditionally termed a nonessential amino acid, glutamine is normally synthesized by the body in adequate amounts. However, given the importance of glutamine in maintaining normal cellular functions, glutamine is considered a conditionally essential amino acid when the body’s consumption of glutamine exceeds the rate of production. This may occur during times of increased demand, particularly post-surgery or traumatic injury, during critical illness or metabolic stress, a physiological process that occurs during exercise in response to athletic exhaustion. In addition to synthesis, glutamine is a naturally occurring amino acid obtained from dietary sources, including animal proteins, such as chicken, seafood and dairy, and plant- based proteins, including beans, leafy greens, tofu, beets and lentils. As glutamine stores are depleted during illness and metabolic stress and the intestines utilize about 30 percent of total glutamine, supplementation when indicated may improve clinical outcomes for intestinal, immune and overall health.
Professional Supplement Center offers these and other high quality supplements in support of immune, intestinal and overall health:
L-Glutamine 1,000 mg by Pure Encapsulations®: This hypoallergenic formulation provides nutritional support for enhanced mucosal lining health, intestinal integrity and a healthy functioning gastrointestinal tract, as well as lean muscle mass growth and maintenance. Gluten free, Non-GMO vegan formulation.
L-Glutamine Powder by Designs for Health®: This professional powdered formulation provides 3 g of L-glutamine per serving for immune and digestive support, as well as maintenance and growth of lean muscle mass. Gluten free, Non-GMO formulation.
Glutamine Forte by Integrative Therapeutics®: Each serving of this naturally flavored powdered formula provides 5 g of L-glutamine blended with 100 mg of bioavailable turmeric, supporting enhanced immune function and the restoration and maintenance of healthy gut barrier function and permeability. Free of sugar, salt, yeast, wheat, gluten, soy, dairy and artificial coloring, flavoring and preservatives. Vegetarian formulation.
L-Glutamine 500 mg by Designs for Health®: Each capsule provides 850 mg of L-glutamine, supporting immune and digestive tract health, as well as optimal muscle growth and maintenance. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.
Glutamine: Metabolism and Immune Function, Supplementation and Clinical Translation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6266414/
Glutamine and intestinal barrier function. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24965526
Role of glutamine in Protection of Intestinal Epithelial Tight Junctions. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4369670/
Glutamine supplements show promise in treating stomach ulcers. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2009/05/glutamine-supplements-show-promise-in-treating-stomach-ulcers/