Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid (protein building block) in the body and is involved in more metabolic processes than any other amino acid. Glutamine is converted to glucose when more glucose is required by the body as an energy source, it is easily converted to glutamic acid and vice versa. It serves as a source of fuel for cells lining the intestines, without it these cells waste away. It is also used by white blood cells and is important for immune function.

Glutamine is found in many foods high in protein, such as crab, cod, turkey, cottage cheese, tuna, haddock, cheddar cheese, soya protein, cabbage, spirulina and beans. Stress or excessive exercise can create a need for more glutamine than the body can provide.

What it does

  1. Mental Stimulant: Glutamine readily passes the blood-brain barrier where it is converted to glutamic acid, which the brain needs to function properly. Glutamic acid is thought to play a role in mental alertness and memory enhancement. It also increases the amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is needed to sustain proper brain function and mental activity.
  2. Intestinal Healer: Glutamine is necessary for cellular repair in the gut where it may help to improve gut barrier function, as well as immune activity.
  3. Immune Support/Healing: Glutamine nourishes important immune cells which assist healing of surgical wounds, trauma injuries and burns. Their proper functioning is dependent on glutamine as a metabolic fuel for growth and proliferation.
  4. Athletic Performance: Glutamine has been shown to improve nitrogen balance, increase protein synthesis, and decrease 3-methylhistidine excretion. It may also raise human growth hormone secretion. Theoretically this means faster recovery for both the endurance and strength athlete, along with faster muscle growth. Glutamine may also stimulate the accumulation of muscle glycogen, which could provide an added advantage for the endurance athlete, who relies heavily on glycogen stores for energy.
  5. Cravings: Glutamine can convert to sugar for energy production and may therefore be helpful in stabilising blood sugar. This, in combination with the effect of glutamine supplementation on brain chemistry, has been shown to significantly reduce craving for alcohol in clinical research.
  6. Anti-Ulcer Agent: As a major metabolic fuel for the endothelial cells of the intestinal tract, glutamine has been shown to speed the rate of healing of digestive ulcers.

Potential Uses

Mental alertness Athletic performance Sugar addiction
Memory enhancement Alcoholism Stomach and duodenal ulcers
Leaky gut Ulcerative colitis Crohn’s Disease


High dosages of glutamine may affect anticonvulsant medication so is best avoided.

Avoid if sensitive to monosodium glutamate or suffering kidney or liver problems.

May be beneficial alongside human growth hormone, indomethacin, methotrexate and paclitaxel.

Generally, there are no side effects or contra-indications from using glutamine.

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