You may know that one of the reasons protein is so important to health is that it contains what’s called amino acids. Amino acids are used by every cell in your body to help with cellular metabolism.
Glutamine is one such supplement that’s often touted by body builders as an amino acid that’s an essential supplement. Let’s take a look at the benefits of glutamine and how this simple amino acid might improve your health.
Glutamine has been shown to improve digestive health in two primary ways. The first is that it helps repair the intestinal lining and many people with Chron’s Disease or other Irritable Bowel Diseases take glutamine to help improve their absorption and digestion.
Additionally, there is evidence that glutamine helps prevent bacteria from moving out of the intestine and infecting other parts of the body. Injuries to the intestinal lining can happen from injury and disease. People with chronic diarrhea may also benefit from additional glutamine in their diets.
When you exercise, particularly intense exercise, glutamine levels are depleted. Because your skeletal muscles are high in this particular amino acid, more than 61% of skeletal muscle is glutamine, depleting this amino acid can cause muscle breakdown.
Glutamine consists of 19% nitrogen, and it’s essential for transporting nitrogen into your cells. Glutamine also increases your ability to secrete HGH or Human Growth Hormone. HGH helps facilitate new muscle growth and burns fat.
Glutamine is often used to help cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. It helps prevent muscle wasting. It also may help reduce other symptoms from radiation therapy and chemotherapy. And some studies have shown that it actually makes cancer treatments more effective.
While it is generally considered to be quite safe, there are some risks for supplementing with this amino acid. In large amounts it can cause liver damage and it’s not recommended for pregnant or lactating women. If you’re allergic or sensitive to MSG (monosodium glutamate), then you may also be sensitive to glutamine.
For the general fitness population, glutamine can be a great way to reduce post workout soreness and increase your recover rate. Recommendations are that adults should use no more than 40 grams daily. Ideally, your pre- or post-workout recovery drink should have some glutamine, along with several other amino acids to promote rapid muscle recovery and better workouts.