An In-Depth Look at Glutamine

glutamine1By Jacquie Eubanks BSN, RN

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body.  Glutamine is considered a non-essential amino acid, meaning it can be synthesized by the body under normal situations.  In the case of injury, illness, intense exercise or extreme stress, however, glutamine can be considered a conditionally-essential amino acid as the body may not be able to produce adequate amounts.  Glutamine plays a major role in many bodily processes including muscle preservation and metabolism, protein synthesis, wound healing and cell proliferation.  Glutamine is a major energy source for the immune system, a nutritional source for gastrointestinal cells and a source of fuel for the brain in the form of glutamic acid. 

Most of the body’s glutamine is produced in muscle tissue, where about 60% of all glutamine is synthesized.  The lungs and the brain also release small amounts.  The liver regulates the large amounts of glutamine derived from the gut.  Although intestinal cells, kidney cells and activated immune cells are the largest users, glutamine provides nitrogen and carbon in the form of fuel to many bodily cells.  After surgery or injury, nitrogen is necessary to heal wounds and keep vital organs functioning.  Much of this nitrogen comes from glutamine.  Glutamine provides support for muscle function and post exercise recovery and resistance.  It helps maintain the integrity of the intestinal tract and enhances the protective mucosal lining, which helps in nutrient utilization and absorption.

When the body uses glutamine more quickly than it can produce it, muscle wasting as well as decreased immunity function can occur.  Supplemental L-glutamine can be useful in the treatment of arthritis, autoimmune diseases, and intestinal disorders.  Because it can enhance mental function, it can be useful treating a wide range of problems such as developmental disability, fatigue, depression and senility.  L-glutamine is used to counter side effects of chemotherapy and can help protect the immune and digestive systems while undergoing radiation therapy.  L-glutamine is known to increase wellbeing in those who have suffered traumatic injuries and to aid in preventing infections in the critically ill.  L-glutamine is often used after surgery to reduce healing times and improve nitrogen balance, intestinal permeability and lymphocyte recovery.

L-Glutamine Powder by Pure Encapsulations provides free-form L-glutamine derived from fermented vegetables. 

L-Glutamine 500 mg (7940) by Douglas Laboratories supports the function of the entire gastrointestinal tract and its extensive immune system.

L-Glutamine Powder (Free-Form Amino Acid) by Biotics Research supports the rapid turnover of tissues such as intestinal cells and components of the immune system.

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