- Stronger immune system
- Prolonged, high intensity training weakens the immune system. Glutamine is a nutrient for lymphocytes and macrophages, therefore glutamine supplements are required during training for proper immune function.
- Increasing muscle size
- Glutamine stimulates the increase of muscle cell volume that induces anabolic processes in cells according to certain opinions related to the mechanism of action of creatine.
- Faster muscle regeneration
- It may stimulate muscle regeneration, not least by restoring the glycogen storage of the skeletal muscles.
Amino acids are compounds containing nitrogen; they are the building blocks of proteins. Glutamine, L-glutamine is a nonessential amino acid and therefore our body (the liver and muscles) is able to synthesise it; however, under certain conditions, natural synthesis cannot compensate for the demands of the body, for instance in cases of serious infection or major injury.
Prolonged, high intensity training weakens the immune system while moderate activity strengthens our immune function. In high intensity, exhausting training and among athletes, anabolic steroids are unfortunately popular; their use has been shown to weaken the immune system. Muscle can synthesise high amounts of glutamine; some of it is released and used by the lymphocytes and the macrophages as a nutrient and it provides protection against free radicals by glutathione (an antioxidant) synthesis. Therefore an adequate amount of glutamine is required to create and maintain proper immune response and health. There is no doubt that glutamine is essential in the function of the immune system; however, its anabolic effect has not yet been substantiated adequately. According to certain scientists, glutamine increases the level of growth hormone significantly and, in conjunction with this, it results in increased muscle mass. Scientists were unable to prove this latter hypothesis n healthy people properly but the use of L-glutamine combined with arginine and HMB (14 g arginine/day, 3 g HMB/day and 14 g glutamine/day as a supplement) in AIDS and cancer patients has proven to be beneficial, while it assisted wound healing and collagen synthesis in other studies . The mix may be prepared at home; the original product (Juven) with slightly less arginine has limited availability abroad.
The antianginal (angina-sensation of chest pain or squeezing) effect of the amino acid is proved partially but it MUST NOT be used as self-treatment. In a study, Duchenne showed an anabolic effect in children with muscular dystrophy. Anabolic combinations (even homemade ones) should be used by sick people only under medical supervision and with regular checkups.
The amino acid, the “mother of all amino acids” may stimulate the increase of muscle cell volume (by increasing their hydration state - known as super-hydration) that induces anabolic processes in cells, according to certain opinions related to the mechanism of action of creatine. Many body builders and medical writers believe that 6-30 g/day or other doses of L-glutamine (in free form or peptide bonded) used once or in multiple doses has a beneficial effect on muscle build. Another opinion, based on personal experience, is that glutamine intake may reduce the decrease of body weight after a course of creatine. According to the official line, people performing endurance and extremely exhausting training may benefit from its use, since it helps to prevent overtraining and decreases the incidence of infections. Restoration of glycogen storage is important in regeneration; it may be increased greatly by consuming glutamine with a carbohydrate drink. According to recent opinions, hypotonic carbohydrate and protein drinks are suggested for athletes performing endurance training; it may be advisable to supplement the drink with glutamine.
It is also important in the maintenance of pH-balance and it may be effective in dietary alkalization as well. Too many acid-producing foods may have a detrimental effect on the human body; they may increase glutamine loss from the skeletal muscles; the NH3 produced from glutamine is able to bind the acidic hydrogen ions and therefore to prevent the detrimental effect of acidosis. Glutamine is stored in our muscles in high amounts; its use may decrease the storage in the skeletal muscles and therefore muscle loss may occur. It may be prevented or restored by consuming a lot of fruit and vegetables and with glutamine supplements. Glutamine is essential in ammonia detoxification; physicians use it for this purpose in serious liver damage.
Supplements contain free L-glutamine and peptide bonded form; supposedly there is no substantial difference in their effectiveness. The benefits of the peptide bonded forms may arise from the amino acids consumed together and from their higher rate of absorption (the intestine uses a lot of glutamine and may use less of the peptide bonded form). Glutamine peptides are usually more expensive than pure glutamine; it seems strange to experts since it is usually cheap, hydrolyzed wheat protein and, logically, pure glutamine should be more expensive. Commercials say something different so something doesn't smell right here; the chances are that they sell less valuable stuff to consumers as glutamine peptides.
Why is it worth using?
- Glutamine is a nutrient for lymphocytes and macrophages, therefore it is required for proper immune function.
- It may reduce muscle loss and increase muscle build.
- It may stimulate the increase of muscle cell volume, which induces anabolic processes in the muscles.
- It may stimulate muscle regeneration, not least by restoring the glycogen storage of muscle.
How to use it
Supplements contain free L-glutamine and the peptide bonded form; there is supposedly no substantial difference in their effectiveness. The daily dose is at least 2 g, it may be taken once a day or in multiple doses. The normal dose is 6-10 g/day, multiple doses may be used as well. It should be consumed with some fluid, preferably with a carbohydrate and protein drink. Since it is a nonessential amino acid, in standard situations we cannot talk about glutamine requirements.
Interactions and synergies
- Shouldn’t be combined with epilepsy medication.
It is a building block of proteins thus of whey (6.6%) and wheat protein (26%); it is synthesised by our body, therefore deficiency is not an issue though it is often used as a supplement to achieve expected/hypothetical goals.
Possible side effects
In health problems, especially liver and kidney problems, glutamine supplementation should be used only under medical supervision and close monitoring. High amounts of this material can be found in nature and in food; on the basis of current knowledge it is considered to be a safe food supplement but people with known sodium glutamate sensitivity should be careful with it. People with mental problems, epileptics and gastric ulcer patients should not take it (use only under medical supervision).
Glutamine was first isolated from carrot juice in 1883 (by Schulze and Bosshard, 1883); it was isolated from gliadin, a protein present in wheat, in 1932 (by Damodaran); first chemical synthesisation was achieved in 1933. Its biological importance was uncovered only after that, but its significance is still not recognised unanimously by scientists, although we have more than ten years of experience in its use in medicine and as dietary supplement.
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Julio J. Boza, Martial Dangin, Denis Moënnoz, Franck Montigon, Jacques Vuichoud, Andrée Jarret, Etienne Pouteau, Gerard Gremaud, Sylviane Oguey-Araymon, Didier Courtois, Alfred Woupeyi, Paul-André Finot, and Olivier Ballèvre Free and protein-bound glutamine have identical splanchnic extraction in healthy human volunteers Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 281: G267-G274, 2001
Kevin, J. Finn, Robin Lund, Mona Rosene-Treadwell GLUTAMINE SUPPLEMENTATION DID NOT BENEFIT ATHLETES DURING SHORT-TERM WEIGHT REDUCTION Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2003) 2, 163-168 http://www.jssm.org
Rathmacher JA, Nissen S, Panton L, Clark RH, Eubanks May P, Barber AE, D'Olimpio J, Abumrad NN. Supplementation with a combination of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB), arginine, and glutamine is safe and could improve hematological parameters JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2004 Mar-Apr;28(2):65-75.
Williams JZ, Abumrad N, Barbul A. Effect of a specialized amino acid mixture on human collagen deposition. Ann Surg. 2002 Sep;236(3):369-74; discussion 374-5.
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