What is Glutamine?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

Scientifically speaking, glutamine is one of the 20 amino acids formed by the human body. It is considered a non-essential amino acid because it can be derived from glutamic acid, another member of the amino acid family. Both glutamine and glutamic acid can be found in protein-rich foods such as beans, red meat, nuts and fish. The body uses this amino acide to improve mental function, control blood sugar levels and maintain muscle mass, among other applications.

The chemical structure of glutamine.
The chemical structure of glutamine.

As a supplement, glutamine is seen as both a "brain food" and a muscle mass enhancer for body builders. Physicians have been known to use it for the treatment of alcoholism, mild depression and muscle-wasting conditions such as Huntington's disease. Glutamine is actually the most common free-form amino acid found floating in muscle tissues. During times of stress, the body may draw it away from the muscles in order to bolster the immune system or prevent blood sugar reactions. This is why many bodybuilders and other proponents of supplements often add daily doses of glutamine to maintain good muscle health.

Nuts contain glutamine and glutamic acid.
Nuts contain glutamine and glutamic acid.

The average diet provides anywhere from 5 to 8 grams of glutamine a day. It would not be unusual for bodybuilders in training to boost this level to 10 grams or more with supplements. Others who need to control their blood sugar levels may also benefit from additional amounts of this amino acid. Some non-scientific studies suggest that it may also help improve mental function, because the body naturally uses it to transport nitrogen to the brain and nervous system.

Glutamine has been used to treat alcoholism.
Glutamine has been used to treat alcoholism.

The human body does require a daily intake of glutamine, so the use of supplements is not generally seen as harmful or unnecessary. Higher doses may cause unpleasant side effects such as diarrhea, but most healthy bodies can safely assimilate the excess amino acid. Supplemental glutamine simply remains suspended in muscle tissue unless drawn away for other uses by the body. Some people also discover that higher levels reduce their desire for sweets or between-meal snacks.

Glutamine is often considered a "brain food" and a muscle mass enhancer.
Glutamine is often considered a "brain food" and a muscle mass enhancer.
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments


Can amino acid decrease blood pressure and cholesterol?


Can I take 100 percent L-Glutamine u.s.p with fat burners, will I get any side effects?


I have Raynauds disease and my hands are numb, white, blue and then turn red when the blood comes back every day just opening the refrigerator.

I was told to try L-Glutamine. What do you think?


is it true that Glutamine will control the desire for alcohol?


Are glutamine and L-glutimine the same thing?


how many products are there when glutamine is titrated?


Glutamine is the most abundant naturally occurring, non-essential amino acid in the human body and one of the few amino acids which directly crosses the blood-brain barrier.

In the body it is found circulating in the blood as well as stored in the skeletal muscles. It becomes conditionally essential (requiring intake from food or supplements) in states of illness or injury.


Please tell me what are the uses of L-Glutamine?


Glutamine is one of the amino acids which are the building blocks of muscle. glutamine sr occurs in each protein source. Protein sources are meat, fish, cereals, beans, etc. Today it is possible to find L-Glutamine in pure form as a nutritional supplement to take. Nutrimax


can glutamine help with low platelet count?


please tell me what does glutamine do? and is it good for that person who is taking nitro muscle tech with fat burner same brand?


Glutamine itself is simply an amino acid and does not contain any wheat, gluten, dairy, or any other known allergens. Just make sure when purchasing glutamine, that it is in fact pure L-Glutamine (and does not contain any allergens).

Source: I myself am gluten intolerant and take 4 grams a day to help speed up my recovery.


if a person is gluten intolerant, does that mean that he should not take the glutamine supplement, even through injection?


what other side effects does it have?. as per se any sexual side effects?


What is meant by high potent molecules, how they are classified, what precautions should be taken for handling them?

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