The Wonderful Non-Essential Amino Acid: L-Glutamine

This amino acid has grown increasingly popular as more and more is understood about its numerous functions in the body.

Scott Berliner, RPh

Due to its ability to cross the blood brain barrier,L-glutamine is a wonderful way of providing glutamic acid to the brain. Many people think that, like other amino acids, this provides more neurotransmitters to the brain, but this is not the case. Actually, L-glutamine provides the glutamic acid that the brain uses as fuel (the only other substance the brain uses for fuel is glucose). Glutamic acid has the ability to pick up ammonia molecules in the body and convert them to glutamine. A shortage of glutamic acid, therefore, can produce brain damage due to excess ammonia or can produce that “I can’t get my brain going” effect.

This amazing amino acid provides the nitrogen that is necessary for proper lymphocyte function making it an important supplement for those individuals with immune issues.

Glutamine can block cravings for alcohol as well as sugar. This key benefit can be used in individuals as a diet aid. Taking one capsule or one quarter teaspoonful of L-glutamine at the onset of sugar or alcohol cravings has been shown to deter these feelings. This may not work in all individuals, but the non-toxic nature of this harmless food additive and the many other benefits that can be derived from this supplement make it worth trying.

L-Glutamine, the 'L' referring to a particular property of the amino acid, can be an amazing aid in healing stomach ulcers, stopping diarrhea, repairing a “leaky gut,” and helping the body repair its cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. Glutamine is the only amino acid containing two amine groups. This enables glutamine to “give up“ one of these amine groups to combine with glucose to make: n-acetyl-glucosamine—necessary for repairing intestinal lining; and acetyl-d-glucosamine—responsible for healing cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. This same property makes it the primary energy fuel for the small intestine and therefore increases immune function of the stomach.

The energy properties of L-glutamine make it an important part of any nutritional protocol where maximizing absorption, energy, and recovery are essential. Most athletes will find its use yields major benefits, especially in recovery and in increasing lean body mass while minimizing body fat.

Dosage recommendations:
In all suggested dosage recommendations I believing that working up to the desired level in small increments is most beneficial and creates the least imbalances. Spreading the desired dose out over three periods will maximize energy benefits as well as stabilize moods and help in the battle against depression.

For general health benefits:
Week One: One dose (one tablet or the equivalent amount of powder depending on manufacturer’s content) once a day
Week Two: One dose twice a day
Week Three: One dose three times a day

Recovery after exercise:
Adding the equivalent of 5 grams to a good whey protein shake after exercise will increase protein absorption and aid in battling the catabolic nature of exercise and maximize the anabolic phases.

Repairing a “leaky gut” often categorized by diarrhea, flatulence or bloating:

The dose here will vary from person to person, but I have found that in some cases it may require as much as 30 grams a day. I suggest using only powdered L- glutamine for this, due to the high doses necessary to achieve these benefits.

Week One: One quarter (1/4) teaspoonful (approx. 1000mg) three times a day
Week Two: One half (1/2) teaspoonful (2000mg) three times a day
Week Three: Three-fourths (3/4) teaspoonful (3000mg) three times a day
Week Four: One teaspoonful (4000mg) three times a day.

*At this point reassessment by a qualified health practitioner should be sought if satisfactory results are not achieved.

Sugar and alcohol cravings:
This particular aspect of glutamine has variable doses that are dependant on the individual response. I suggest trying between 1 and 5 grams of glutamine at the first sign of cravings. Powdered L-glutamine would be preferable since fast absorption is most beneficial here.

For those of you that haven’t experienced the benefits of glutamine, I strongly suggest that you integrate this most “essential” amino acid into your regimen of dietary supplements.