Glutamine is an amino acid synthesized by the body from another amino acid called glutamic acid, or glutamate. Glutamine is represented as a conditionally essential amino acid because under certain circumstances the body is unable to produce enough glutamine to meet it’s needs, so that it becomes "essential" during attempts to obtain glutamine from food.
The most abundant amino acid in blood and muscle tissue – glutamine, participates in many important physiological functions and is essential for maintaining the health of the gastrointestinal tract and immune system. In recent years, glutamine has become more popular among athletes because it is believed to help prevent infections resulting from exercise and that it speeds recovery.
Functions of glutamine
Glutamine is the preferred source to nourish the cells that make up the lining of the small intestine. Thus it helps to maintain the health and integrity of the gastrointestinal tract. In addition, glutamine plays an important role in maintaining the proper acid balance. It is synthesized from glutamate and ammonia. Ammonia is a toxic waste, which is combined with high acidity, which means it is s base (as opposed to acid). If elevated levels of ammonia are present, the body clears ammonia from the blood through the synthesis of glutamine. If the blood is too acidic (pH is too low), the body may split glutamine into glutamate and ammonia, resulting in an increase in blood pH.
Glutamine is also a precursor of the antioxidant glutathione, which participates in the synthesis of glycogen.
Deficiency of glutamine
It is a fact that glutamine can be synthesized by the body from the amino acid glutamate, so its deficiency is not very common. intakes of glutamine from food sources is not known to cause adverse effects, even doses greater than 10 grams per day, are also considered safe.
Muscle and blood concentrations of glutamine are quickly depleted when the body is faced with some kind of physical stress. For example, high-intensity exercise, injury, surgery, burns, infections, and malnutrition cause the body to use its reserves of glutamine during these stressful conditions, being unable to synthesize glutamine fast enough to meet its needs. Also, people with low muscle mass due to age and muscle diseases (eg AIDS ) may be at risk of glutamine deficiency.
Benefits of Glutamine
Glutamine may help reduce side effects associated with taking drugs for chemotherapy, for mouth ulcers, diarrhea, muscle and joint pain.
The body’s glutamine processing happens from another amino acid called glutamate. Many medications taken for seizures including carbamazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin and primidone act by blocking the glutamate stimulation of the brain. As a result, people taking such medications should consult a physician before taking glutamine supplements.
Glutamine may play a role in the prevention and / or treatment of the following diseases: alcoholism , side effects of chemotherapy, food allergies, AIDS, irritable bowel syndrome, colds, flu, burns, ulcerative colitis and others.
Sources of glutamine
As a dietary supplement, glutamine is available as mixable powders or protein powder for drinks.