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L-Glutamine Benefits, Uses, Side Effects and Functions

Discover the Function, Sources and Benefits of the Health Supplement Ingredient L-Glutamine, or 2-Amino-4-Carbamoylbutanoic Acid

Glutamine – also known as L-glutamine and 2-amino-4-carbamoylbutanoic acid – is considered a conditionally essential amino acid. This means that while the body is usually able to produce sufficient amounts of glutamine for its daily needs, L-glutamine supplementation may be required in instances when glutamine is depleted due to stressors. Illness, injury, surgery, chemotherapy and intense exercise can all deplete glutamine levels. Individuals who need to replenish L-glutamine can obtain it through certain food sources as well as in natural health and bodybuilding supplements such as HGF-MAX, HGH 30,000 Nanograms pills and spray, and whey protein mixes.

Functions of L-Glutamine

Amino acids serve as the building blocks of protein, and glutamine acts as a precursor for protein synthesis. It is primarily produced by and stored within muscle, and distributed to other organs via the bloodstream. L-glutamine is believed to act as a human growth hormone (HGH) releaser, also known as an HGH secretagogue. In addition, glutamine is the major fuel source for enterocytes (intestinal absorptive cells) as well as lymphocytes and macrophages (white blood cells that play a key role within the immune system), and it appears to be required for healthy brain function and digestion. Furthermore, L-glutamine is involved in nitrogen exchange and plays a critical role in removing excess ammonia resulting from protein catabolism.

Sources of L-Glutamine

Dietary sources of glutamine include meat (beef, pork and poultry); dairy (milk, yogurt, ricotta cheese and cottage cheese); egg whites; leafy greens (raw spinach and cabbage); legumes (peanuts and soybeans); and grains (wheat, corn and barley). L-glutamine may also be consumed directly – in powder, tablet, capsule or liquid form – as part of a natural dietary supplement.

L-Glutamine Benefits and Uses

Considering L-glutamine’s role as an HGH releaser and precursor for protein synthesis, and given that glutamine levels typically drop following intense exercise, this amino acid has become a popular ingredient in health and bodybuilding supplements. Rigorous workouts and lifting reduce intramuscular glutamine stores and can weaken the muscles if levels are not replenished. That’s why athletes, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts often take L-glutamine supplements to aid in muscle maintenance, promote cell renewal and support the immune system – particularly when undergoing intensive training.

For many of the same reasons, L-glutamine can be a useful dietary supplement for individuals recovering from illness, injury, infections, severe burns and surgery. By strengthening the immune system, L-glutamine helps to fight off infections and neutralize excess ammonia and cortisol in the body. Its role in protecting the gastrointestinal lining may help individuals suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or short-bowel syndrome. It can help HIV/AIDS patients avoid weight loss, as it enables the intestines to better absorb nutrients. Evidence also suggests L-glutamine may be beneficial for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy by helping to combat cachexia (weight loss, muscle atrophy and fatigue) and stomatitis (inflammation and soreness in the mouth).

Side Effects of L-Glutamine and Potential Interactions

L-glutamine supplements are generally considered safe for adults, and no significant side effects have been reported in healthy users. However, L-glutamine may exacerbate symptoms in people with certain medical conditions, including liver disease, hepatic encephalopathy, kidney disease, Reye syndrome, seizures and mania.

Interactions are possible with some medications; for example, L-glutamine supplements may decrease the effectiveness of lactulose and anticonvulsants. There has also been conflicting evidence concerning the use of glutamine for cancer patients; while some studies confirm its beneficial effects, others indicate it may interact with cancer medications or potentially stimulate tumor growth. More detailed safety information on L-glutamine side effects and interactions can be found on WebMD. As with any medication or health supplement, it is best to consult your physician before taking dietary supplements containing L-glutamine.

L-Glutamine Research and Studies

Numerous research studies have explored the impact of L-glutamine supplements on subjects ranging from healthy athletes to critically ill patients. In terms of its efficacy as an HGH releaser, an article published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicated that a small oral L-glutamine load is capable of raising alkaline reserves and increasing HGH concentration in plasma. Another study cited in Nutritional Neuroscience found that an oral supplement containing L-glutamine, glycine and niacin was shown to enhance HGH secretion in healthy middle-aged and elderly subjects.

According to the Asian Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers found that L-glutamine and carbohydrate supplementation improved the physical performance of athletes during repeated competitions by preventing anaerobic power decrease. An article published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition reported that L-alanyl-L-glutamine supplementation provided a significant ergogenic benefit by increasing time to exhaustion during endurance exercise. Animal studies also showed promising results; in Cell Biochemistry and Function, scientists examined muscle damage and inflammation in rats following prolonged exercise and found that L-glutamine supplementation diminished inflammation biomarkers and the inflammatory response.

Other research has explored L-glutamine’s effects from a medical perspective. A meta-analysis published in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care concluded that L-glutamine has a beneficial effect on infectious complications and reduces the length of hospital stays, and noted that it may reduce morbidity and mortality in critically ill patients. For additional L-glutamine research, refer to the PubMed site sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

HGH.com Supplements With L-Glutamine

Athletes, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts can replenish glutamine levels and leverage the positive impact of L-glutamine with natural HGH and bodybuilding supplements from HGH.com:

HGF MAX – These capsules were scientifically developed to elevate HGH levels with key ingredients such as L-glutamine and other amino acids, which collectively help to build muscle, enhance muscle tone, increase metabolism and improve stamina.

HGH 30,000 Nanograms Pills and HGH 30,000 Nanograms Spray – Available in capsule and spray forms, HGH 30,000 Nanograms stimulates HGH production through a powerful combination of L-group amino acids, including L-glutamine. These oral supplements support muscle growth, fat-burning, increased energy and other benefits.

Multi-Pro Chocolate Whey Protein – With more than 3.7 grams of L-glutamine and 24 grams of protein per serving, Multi-Pro is a complete protein supplement that is designed to help users gain muscle, lose body fat and support the immune system.

Elite Whey Protein Butter Toffee and Elite Whey Protein Chocolate Mint – Each serving of Elite whey protein delivers more than 3.5 grams of glutamine and glutamine precursors plus 5 grams of branched-chain amino acids to help grow and strengthen muscle while aiding in muscle repair and recovery.

CytoSport Vanilla Whey Protein – One serving of low-fat, low-lactose, CytoSport whey protein contains 18 grams of protein and is naturally rich in L-glutamine and branched-chain amino acids. It aids users in developing lean muscle mass and recovering more quickly after intense training.

CytoSport EvoPro Berry – Each scoop of EvoPro Berry contains 3 grams of L-glutamine and 26 grams of protein, yet has very little carbohydrates or fat. It helps to promote lean muscle mass, stimulate growth receptors and sustain an anabolic state.

Mega Shake Strawberry – Featuring a powerful blend of active ingredients – including L-glutamine – Mega Shake provides 32 grams of total protein per serving. It is formulated to help increase muscle tone, reduce body fat, provide energy and support muscle recovery.

NOX-CG3 Fruit Punch and NOX-CG3 Blue Raspberry – With a blend of L-arginine, creatine and L-glutamine, this advanced formulation is designed to boost energy, enhance nutrient absorption and reduce recovery time after strenuous workouts.

NxLabs Plasmavol, NxLabs Pump System and NxLabs Ultimate Muscle Expansion Pack – These NxLabs supplements contain L-glutamine and other amino acids to help accelerate nitric oxide production, enhance muscle pumps and vascularity, and increase strength.


References (Function, Sources, Benefits/Uses and Side Effects/Interactions):

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “Glutamine”; published under “About Herbs, Botanicals & Other Products” within Integrative Medicine area of website; last updated February 21, 2013. <http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/herb/glutamine>

University of Maryland Medical Center. “Glutamine”; published under the “Complementary and Alternative Medicine Guide” on the website; last updated May 7, 2013. <http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/glutamine>

Presser, Art. “Amino Acids”; Smart Supplementation, published by Huntington College of Health Sciences; 2009. <http://www.hchs.edu/literature/Amino%20Acids.pdf>

WebMD and Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. “Glutamine”; published under “Vitamins & Supplements”; accessed August 14, 2014. <http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-878-glutamine.aspx?activeingredientid=878&activeingredientname=glutamine>

Research Sources:

Arwert, Lucia I.; Deijen, Jan Berend; and Drent, Madeleine L. “Effects of An Oral Mixture Containing Glycine, Glutamine and Niacin on Memory, GH and IGF-I Secretion in Middle-aged and Elderly Subjects”; Nutritional Neuroscience; October 1, 2003. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14609312>

Cruzat, Vinicius Fernandes; Rogero, Marcelo Macedo; and Tirapegu, Julio. “Effects of Supplementation With Free Glutamine and the Dipeptide Alanyl-Glutamine on Parameters of Muscle Damage and Inflammation in Rats Submitted to Prolonged Exercise”; Cell Biochemistry and Function; January 2010. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19885855>

Hoffman, Jay R.; Ratamess, Nicholas A.; et al. “Examination of the Efficacy of Acute L-Alanyl-L-Glutamine Ingestion During Hydration Stress in Endurance Exercise”; Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition; February 3, 2010. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20181080>

Khorshidi-Hosseini, Mahdi and Nakhostin-Roohi, Babak. “Effect of Glutamine and Maltodextrin Acute Supplementation on Anaerobic Power”; Asian Journal of Sports Medicine; June 2013. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23802055>

Melis, Gerdien C.; ter Wengel, Nathalie; et al. “Glutamine: Recent Developments in Research on the Clinical Significance of Glutamine”; Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care; January 2004. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15090905>

Welbourne, Thomas C. “Increased Plasma Bicarbonate and Growth Hormone After an Oral Glutamine Load”; The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; May 1995. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7733028>




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