The Surprising Benefits of Glutamine

Often, when we consider taking any amino acid supplement, we associate it with building proteins, and thereby muscle. Of course, amino acids have many more functions than just this in the body! For example; Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, the ‘happy’ hormone, or Methionine, which makes some important minerals, such zinc and selenium, more bio-available.

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What is Glutamine?


Glutamine is one of the 20 amino acids found in the human body. In fact, it is the the most abundant amino acid in muscle tissue. Glutamine makes up 61% of the free intracellular amino acid pool.

Glutamine is considered conditionally essential. For the most part, our body can synthesise it. But under conditions of extreme stress, such as illness or intense exercise, we can become deficient and benefit from additional glutamine from supplementation.

Unlike other amino acid supplements, like BCAAs (leucine, valine and isoleucine), which are often taken to help build and maintain muscle tissue, Glutamine does not seem to directly affect body composition. This can be backed up by several studies. So why is it so popular in the bodybuilding world?

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Benefits

Glutamine is effective when used for: 
-gut health
-immune health
-Recovery

GI Tract

The small intestine requires more L-Glutamine than the rest of the body. L-Glutamine strengthens the gut lining by fuelling the cells lining the mucosa of the SI and balancing mucus production. It is even been shown as an effective way to treat the symptoms of leaky gut and IBS. As important as it is to consume a healthy, balanced diet, being able to process those nutrients effectively is key to achieving the best results, something often overlooked.

Immunity

Glutamine is utilised at a high rate by white blood cells of the immune system, it plays an important role in helping T-cells and macrophages carry out their roles. As training depletes L-Glutamine stores, and can cause stress and inflammation on the body which might increase the likelihood of illness, L-Glutamine supplementation makes sense, especially in the lead up to competition when an athlete is potentially more run down and simultaneously needing to be at peak health status.

Recovery

Glutamine plays a role in protein synthesis and may diminish muscle soreness at a faster rate than placebo.

Street, B., Byrne, C., & Eston, R. (2011). Glutamine Supplementation in Recovery From Eccentric Exercise Attenuates Strength Loss and Muscle Soreness. Journal Of Exercise Science & Fitness, 9(2), 116-122. doi: 10.1016/s1728-869x(12)60007-0

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Why Supplement?

It is possible to consume naturally occurring glutamine through foods in our diet, such as bone broth and grass-fed meats. However, these are expensive. Glutamine is a relatively cheap supplement. Most brands recommend 5g a day for best results. Always follow the directions on the packaging. Powder and capsule options are available, also look out for other supplements with added glutamine.

PhD Powder Glutamine

Explore our range of glutamine supplements here.

About the Author

Savannah Westerby, BSc Sport and Exercise Nutrition. IG:@savannahwesterby
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