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Glutamine Q&A

What is Glutamine?

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the blood comprising as much as 60% of the free amino acid pool in the body. Glutamine is a nonessential amino acid produced primarily in skeletal muscle. In this case, nonessential means that glutamine can be manufactured by the body through the conversion of existing amino acids such as aspartic acid, isoleucine, asparagine, glutamic acid, and valine when needed. Glutamine can also be found in various foods, with the highest concentrations found in those foods that are high in protein, such as legumes, poultry, fish, and other lean meats. Since glutamine is a component of protein, glutamine can often be found in various food products without being listed on the label, but most supplements will either have an amino acid profile or gram amount listed on the label. 

Can Glutamine help to build muscle mass?

Glutamine has stormed onto the bodybuilding supplementation circuit recently with all the fervor of 900-lb gorilla on steroids. The reason for this is that research has shown glutamine to play a very important role in protein metabolism, cell-volumization, anti-catabolism (the breakdown of muscle), and normal muscle cell function. Under periods of stress, glutamine is broken down and used as an energy source and your body may not be able to make enough of it fast enough. There is the potential that, like burn and disease victims, surgery patients, and those who have been under a lot of stress or trauma, bodybuilders can gain from the supplementation of glutamine. Studies show that glutamine supplementation is an effective way to replace these declining levels and thus maintain peak athletic performance and fight the potential for muscle deterioration. After intense workouts, research has shown that glutamine levels within the body can be reduced by as much as 50%. Catabolism or muscle breakdown can occur if the body robs muscles of glutamine for use elsewhere such as nitrogen transport or maintaining the immune system. When supplemented, it may help bodybuilders reduce the amount of muscle deterioration that occurs because other tissues that need glutamine will not rob the glutamine stored in the muscle cells. No conclusive studies have been done to evaluate the effects of L-glutamine supplementation on weight-training adults, however, a recent study showed up to a 400% increase in growth-hormone levels when as little as 2 grams of free-form L-glutamine supplement was consumed! 

I've heard that Glutamine supplementation can also be good for the immune system, is this true?

Glutamine isn't only for bodybuilders. Glutamine is essential for maintaining intestinal function and aiding in the immune response as well. After glutamine is synthesized in skeletal muscle it is released into the bloodstream and transported to the kidney, liver and small intestine and cells of the immune system where it plays another vital role. Glutamine is used by white blood cells and contributes to normal immune-system function. Individuals with muscle-wasting and immune-system related illnesses (such as cancer or AIDS) who may be incapable of manufacturing their own supply of glutamine may benefit from glutamine supplements taken along with other amino acids. Becoming ill or losing lean muscle mass are potential signs of glutamine deficiency.

What about other benefits of glutamine?

Intestine: One of glutamine's most important tasks in the body is to nourish cells that line the intestine and stomach. Those with stomach problems associated with Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis may theoretically benefit from glutamine too.

Brain function: Glutamine passes freely across the blood-brain barrier. Once in the brain, it's converted to glutamic acid and increases the concentration of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), an important neurotransmitter. Both glutamic acid and GABA are essential for proper mental function. Some feel that glutamine is "brain fuel" capable of stimulating mental alertness and clear thinking, but this is yet proven.

Body buffer: Glutamine can be converted to glutamic acid to help regulate the pH of the body and act as a buffer against lactic acid buildup.

Glutamic acid and glutamine are so similar, why not just take glutamic acid supplements?

Since glutamic acid cannot cross the blood brain barrier, where most of the metabolism takes place, it would need to be converted by the body. Glutamine, which can cross this barrier, would be the wisest choice to take in supplement form.

What is the effective daily dose of glutamine? Are there any side effects from glutamine supplementation?

The recommended dose for bodybuilders is ten grams of L-glutamine per day, in divided servings, although clinical studies have not determined a precise amount for muscle metabolism optimization. More studies are required to substantiate this recommendation. 

To date there are no side effects associated with L-glutamine supplementation. Most proponents for glutamine supplementation would agree that since it is a nutrient naturally occurring in the body, the potential for side effects of supplementation would be small if not nonexistent. Reports of an upset stomach are associated with ingesting a great deal of glutamine, using smaller doses is recommended if this occurs.




Article source: Optimum Lifestyle.

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