You might have heard of glutamine supplements that people going to the gym take in order to build muscles. Some of you may not even have heard of it. In this article, let’s get down to the details of glutamine, its benefits and side effects and whether you should consume in through supplements
WHAT IS GLUTAMINE?
Glutamine is an amino acid that is produced by the body and also found in food. It is a building block of proteins and it performs many functions in the body. Our body requires about 20 essential and non-essential amino for building essential proteins. Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid that is naturally occurring in the body. It is the most abundant amino acid found in the blood and other body fluids.
Generally, people produce sufficient amount of glutamine to meet their bodily needs. However, there are circumstances when the body does not produce enough glutamine and the need for glutamine is greater than the body’s ability to produce it. This could occur in case of illness or injury. When there is such a deficiency, there may be a need to take supplements of glutamine. Furthermore, there are even a few health benefits in increasing the intake of glutamine.
Glutamine is found in many foods. It is generally higher in meat and animal products due to their high protein levels. However, some of the vegetarian food such as white rice and corn has a high level of glutamine content in their protein level. Since glutamine is an essential component of proteins, it is found in any food containing protein albeit in varying amounts. Consuming a protein-rich diet would ensure that you are consuming sufficient amount of glutamine
BENEFITS OF GLUTAMINE:
Firstly, Glutamine contributes to the immune system of the body. It functions as a fuel source for white blood cells and certain intestinal cells. Glutamine is produced in the muscles and is trasported to other organs through blood. It helps in forming other chemicals in the body such as glucose and other amino acids.
Nitrogen is necessary for repairing wounds and damaged tissues after surgery and about a third of nitrogen come from glutamine. Consequently, glutamine levels in the blood may reduce in the case of cuts, wounds or surgery. In such a situation when the body’s need for glutamine is greater than its ability to produce it, glutamine reserves such as muscles may break down to release more amino acid. Furthermore, when glutamine is otherwise involved, its primary function of fueling immune cells may be compromised bring down the vigour of immunity in the body.
WHY GLUTAMINE SUPPLEMENTS?
Thus, glutamine supplements are highly beneficial to the body in times of injury and repair. They are found to be life-saving among critically ill patients while also reducing medical costs. There is also some evidence that they improve the immunity of animals affected by bacteria or virus.
Secondly, glutamine plays an important role in keeping the intestine healthy. Many intestinal cells and trillions of bacteria living in the gut contribute to the immune system of the body. In turn, these cells are powered by glutamine. Glutamine is also needed for normal growth and maintenance of these intestinal cells. Glutamine also prevents the situation called ‘leaky gut’ where the contents inside the intestine are stopped from mixing with the rest of the body.
It helps improve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Glutamine protects the mucous membrane of the oesophagus and intestine. The mucous membrane, in turn, blocks any possible infiltration of bacteria during digestion. Glutamine prevents inflammation and infection of the intestine and soothes the gut tissue. It also reduces intestinal spasms. Also, increasing the intake of glutamine can help reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome caused by stress.
Thirdly, glutamine supplements reduce muscle soreness after an intense workout and promotes fast recovery. There is no conclusive evidence that suggest that glutamine can promote muscle building and improve exercise performance. Besides, atheles and bodybuilders may already be consuming enough amount of glutamine through their protein-rich diet which calls no need for glutamine supplements.
Fourthly, glutamine is used to rectify some of the side-effects caused by medical treatments. It helps reduce soreness and swelling inside the mouth of patients who have undergone chemotherapy. It can also be used to placate the side effects of radiochemotherapy, improve recovery after bone marrow transplant surgery and bowel surgery. Glutamine supplements help HIV/AIDS patients to absorb food better and gain weight.
Lastly, it is also used when a person is suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sickle cell anaemia and alcohol withdrawal support.
SIDE EFFECTS OF GLUTAMNE:
Consuming glutamine through regular diet is natural and poses no danger. When it comes to glutamine supplements, small doses taken for a short period is found to be possibly safe. However, taken large doses for a long period of time affects how the body processes amino acids. There is also a lack of information regarding the effect of a large intake of glutamine in the long run.
There is little knowledge as to how a large intake of glutamine affects pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is also unclear if large doses are safe for children.
People suffering from cirrhosis (kidney diseases), hepatic encephalopathy (liver diseases) and Reye’s syndrome should avoid taking glutamine supplements as they can aggravate these conditions. Certain tumour cells feed of glutamine and multiply. People suffering from cancer must avoid any glutamine supplements.
Furthermore, glutamine can be sensitive to some people and may cause allergic reactions. It might trigger seizures in some people.
Additionally, it can also create mental changes in people suffering from mental disorders such as mania.Read our article on WHEY PROTEIN SIDE EFFECTS to know make sure that you are consuming it in the recommended way.
A typical diet contains about 3 to 6 grams of glutamine in it. If you decide to take glutamine supplements, be aware of what your present diet consists of. High-protein, animal-based diet already contains a good amount of glutamine in it. Adding a dose of supplement to it may result in a generous addition of glutamine to the the body than what it naturally craves. However, if you are consuming a plant-based diet with low protein content in it, then you may benefit from taking supplements that might help meet out your body requirements.
It would be a good idea to start with a small dose of 5 grams per day and notice how it changes your body before taking larger doses. You can also increase glutamine intake by simply adding some of the glutamine-rich foods to your diet. Some of the sources of glutamine are lentils, beans, peas, spinach, tofu, cabbage, chicken, fish and dairy.
TO SUM UP:
Glutamine is an essential amino acid required for the smooth functioning of the body. It performs many vital functions in the body.
When the body fails to produce enough amount of glutamine required in times of injury or illness, it is beneficial to support the body by consuming glutamine through supplements.
In times of health and when the body is functioning as normal, consuming glutamine supplements could reduce muscle soreness and revitalise the body after a workout. However, It is not shown to provide other benefits such as strength building and muscle growth.
If you decide to take glutamine supplements, consult with your doctor and make sure you take the right dosage and be aware of the side effects.
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