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14 Proven Benefits of Glutamine + Side Effects

14 Proven Benefits of Glutamine + Side Effects

There are many claims out there about certain supplements and what they are and are not capable of.  Many face intense scrutiny. No supplement is immune to it and L-Glutamine is not an exception. First, let’s talk about the function of Glutamine.  It’s an amino acid which occurs naturally in the body as well as can be found in some types of foods.

However, when you go through any strenuous activity like playing sports or an intense workout your body gets depleted of its Glutamine stores and therefore your athletic performance will suffer.  When this happens many people like to add Glutamine supplements to their routine.

It should be noted that Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in your body. So it is obviously an extremely important element to your physical capabilities,

Glutamine is used by our bodies as fuel for the cells of the immune system and macrophages.  It’s also used to keep the bodies nitrogen balanced and as fuel cells which line your gut. Glutamine is a building block for proteins in the body and it prevents other amino acids from being burned off as well.  

Your skeletal muscles account for 70% of the production of Glutamine in the body.  Along with the skeletal muscles; the kidneys, liver, and small intestines use Glutamine as well.  So that tells you just how important Glutamine is to our well being. Below are the 14 proven benefits of L-Glutamine as well as its side effects.  

Prevents Liver Disease

Studies have shown that Glutamine decreases the uptake of fat to the liver.  Studies have also shown that when Glutamine stores are low or the diet is void of Glutamine there is a large build up of fat inside the liver.

Protects the Heart

Studies have shown that if Glutamine is not present during recovery from heart attacks no hearts were able to recover.  On the other hand, they showed that are fewer complications and heart injuries in those taking Glutamine.

Fights Stress

Studies have shown that taking Glutamine supplements increases HSP-70.  HSP-70 has been seen to reduce death rates in trauma patients.

Muscle Growth

When Glutamine was used with other BCAA’s (Branched-Chain Amino Acids) and whey protein studies saw an increase in athletic performance and muscle size.

Muscle Soreness

Studies have shown that supplementing with .3 grams per kilogram of bodyweight saw better leg strength and less soreness after exercise according to a 2015 study published in NCBI.  Ninety minutes after taking 2 grams of Glutamine studies showed that Growth Hormone was multiplied by four according to a 1995 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study.

Prolonged Exercise

Studies such as a 1992 study published in Medical Science for Sports and Exercise state that prolonged high-intensity exercise of more than one hour reduces the levels of Glutamine in your body.

Injuries and Muscle Wasting

Studies have shown that post injury and when muscle wasting happens Glutamine levels in the body are decreased.

Nitrogen Retention

In a study of 24 bone marrow transplant patients, Glutamine helped retain nitrogen while it also helped nitrogen retention for those having stomach surgery.

Recover From Surgery

We know that having surgery depletes the muscles of Glutamine while it also reduces the protein synthesis in muscles.  Both pre and post workout Glutamine supplementation have been shown to have positive recovery effects on patients.

Chemotherapy Side Effects

Glutamine is known to reduce levels of pain and mucositis which is the inflammation of the mucous membranes in the larynx, pharynx, and oral cavity in those on chemotherapy.  However, there have been some contraindications since cancer patients may use Glutamine as fuel for tumors. So anyone in this situation should consult their physician on a case by case basis.

Healing Wounds

Cells that are important to wound healing use the energy from Glutamine.  Cells such as connective tissue, macrophages, and lymphocytes. Immune cells and tissue use up Glutamine after an injury.

Fighting Infections

Studies show that supplementing with Glutamine reduces infection and inflammation while also reducing recovery time.  

Gut Flow

Patients who had stomach surgery and part of their stomach removed who ingested 3 grams of Glutamine for 12 days saw a major increase in gut flow for the small intestine.

Leaky Gut

Glutamine is shown to repair and prevent the symptoms of a leaky gut when taken prior to receiving radiation treatment and was shown to maintain intestinal villi.  The villi help increase the surface area that the intestine has for absorption. Glutamine inside the gut is used to help absorption and transport nutrients. It is also necessary for cell production and growth.  Glutamine is one of the biggest sources of fuel for the small intestine as well.

Side Effects

Most studies show there are little or no side effects from taking Glutamine supplements.  However, there are some that allude to potential side effects mostly in long-term use. A 2013 JPEN study states that those who take 40 grams or higher of L-Glutamine may experience one or all of the following side effects.  

  • Alteration in the transportation of amino acids
  • Alterations in metabolism
  • May have impaired ammonia detoxification
  • Abnormalities in plasma levels and other amino acid levels
  • Alterations to the immune system
  • Effect on tumor growth
  • Withdrawal effect and enhancement of health problems from Glutamine deficiencies

The study concluded that a chronic Glutamine intake and Glutamine-enriched diet over the long term has substantial side effects.  More studies should be conducted.

Most studies find Glutamine supplementation to be highly beneficial and a positive part of your fitness routine.  There are at least 14 confirmed benefits of using Glutamine and others claim they receive added benefits from Glutamine that have not been studied as of yet.  All in all, it seems Glutamine is safe to use as long as you don’t go over 40 grams. Typically 5-10 grams of Glutamine will provide several benefits and help athletic performance and enhance recovery time after high-intensity activities.

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