Of the 20 amino acids in the body, L-Glutamine (not to be confused with Glutamic Acid), is the most abundant and naturally occurring ‘nonessential’ amino acid. I say nonessential because the body already produces this naturally and obtains additional quantities from animal based foods. If you’re an athlete or endure greater amounts of exercise than the average Joe, listen up. After physical stress, it can take 6 days to restore glutamine levels in your body. Keeping this in mind, you may want to look into glutamine ‘supplementation’ for the many benefits that this muscle-building marvel is capable of – without the added calories from food.
Over 60% of skeletal muscle is glutamine, so it represents the largest amount of free amino acids in the body. Glutamine consists of 19% nitrogen, making it the primary transporter of nitrogen into your muscle cells, and also has the highest concentration in blood plasma, musculature and cerebral and spinal fluid, making it the supreme amino acid.
As you know, amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Glutamine is generated in the muscles and is distributed by the blood to the organs that need it. Glutamine aids in metabolic function, strengthening the immune system, and other essential processes in the body. Furthermore, it is also important for providing “fuel” (nitrogen and carbon) to many different cells in the body. Glutamine is needed to make other chemicals in the body such as other amino acids and glucose (sugar), functional and also assist in the removal of extra ammonia in the body. Ammonia is a waste product, formed when protein is broken down by the bacteria present in the intestine – excess accumulation of this can cause liver problems.
If the body uses more glutamine than the muscles can produce (during times of physical stress), or if the muscles aren’t being utilized to their fullest capacity, (people w/ sedentary lives), the muscles will lose size and strength. This can happen to people that are sick or malnourished like HIV/AIDS victims, other medical conditions, OR people that are generally healthy but need additional intake such as athletes, and weight trainers – so it’s advised that taking glutamine supplements will keep the glutamine stores up so muscle atrophy doesn’t occur.
Glutamine plays key roles in protein metabolism, cell volumization, and has anti-catabolism effects that give the body the ability to prevent the further breakdown of muscles. Glutamine also increases the body’s ability to secrete Human Growth Hormone, which helps metabolize body fat and support new muscle growth. This is especially useful for ‘muscle recovery’ and for people that are ‘cutting down’ or preparing for an event.
In conjunction to one’s diet, it’s recommended that bodybuilders or fitness enthusiast should take 10 to 15 grams of glutamine a day, supplementing it 2 to 3 times daily, with each serving at around 5 grams. Many protein supplements already have some glutamine mixed into it, so read the labels to know for sure. Best times to take glutamine are in the morning, after a workout, and at night before bedtime. Up until now, there have been no adverse side effects with taking this product as long as you don’t exceed 10-15 grams per day.
On a side note, glutamine is one of the most important nutrients for your intestines. It has the ability to ‘repair a leaky gut’ by maintaining the structural integrity of the bowels, according to Dr. Oz. After surgery or traumatic injury, nitrogen is necessary to repair the wounds and keep the vital organs functioning. As mentioned previously, a good portion of this nitrogen comes from glutamine.
In addition, glutamine can even cure ulcers – according to “Men’s Journal,” studies have found that 1.6 grams of glutamine a day had a 92% cure rate in 4 weeks. Also because glutamine helps maintain cell volume and hydration, this will speed up wound and burn healing.
What are the best food sources for glutamine? Animal proteins are very rich in glutamine and have high concentrations of the amino acid. Some of the best sources of animal proteins with glutamine are meat/dairy products. These include: milk, ricotta cheese, yogurt and cottage cheese. The meat sources that are high in glutamine are: chicken, beef, fish, turkey and pork. Secondly, beans and certain types of vegetables are also great sources of glutamine. Raw vegetables tend to have greater amounts; some of the best vegetables to eat for glutamine are: parsley, raw spinac and cabbage.
Scientist refer to glutamine as the ‘internal fountain of youth’ because of all of its responsibilities to the body. As we age, the body produces less glutamine – as a result, this stresses the muscles and deprives other parts of the body with all of its essential nourishment. In addition, glutamine is beneficial for immunity, skin, hair, anxiety, tension, and sleep disorders. Check out the supplement section of Fitness RX for Men to see what exciting products they carry that list GLUTAMINE as the main or secondary ingredient(s), so you can include it in your daily supplement regimen.