Glutamine, or L-glutamine, is an amino acid derived from another amino acid, glutamic acid. Glutamine plays a role in the health of the immune system, digestive tract, and muscle cells, as well as other bodily functions. It appears to serve as a fuel for the cells that line the intestines. Heavy exercise, infection, surgery, and trauma can deplete the body's glutamine reserves, particularly in muscle cells.
The fact that glutamine does so many good things in the body has led people to try glutamine supplements as a treatment for various conditions, including preventing the infections that often follow endurance exercise, reducing symptoms of overtraining syndrome, improving nutrition in critical illness, alleviating allergies, and treating digestive problems.
There is no daily requirement for glutamine because the body can make its own supply. As mentioned earlier, various severe stresses may result in a temporary glutamine deficiency.
High-protein foods such as meat, fish, beans, and dairy products are excellent sources of glutamine. Typical daily intake from food ranges from approximately 1 to 6 g.
Typical therapeutic dosages of glutamine used in studies ranges from 3 to 30 g daily, divided into several separate doses.
Based on glutamine's role in muscle, it has been suggested that glutamine might be useful for athletes experiencing overtraining syndrome . As the name suggests, this syndrome is the cumulative effect of a training regimen that allows too little rest and recovery between workouts. Symptoms include depression, fatigue, reduced performance, and physiological signs of stress. Glutamine supplements have additionally been proposed as treatment for attention deficit disorder , ulcers , and as a " brain booster ." However, there is little to no scientific evidence for any of these uses.
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Glutamine?
Infections in Athletes
For other approaches to this problem, see the article titled Sports and Fitness Support: Aids to Recovery .
Recovery From Critical Illness
Maximum safe dosages for young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease have not been determined.
Interactions You Should Know About
If you are taking:
- Antiseizure medications, including carbamazepine , phenobarbital , phenytoin (Dilantin) , primidone (Mysoline) , and valproic acid (Depakene) : Use glutamine only under medical supervision.
- Nelfinavir or other protease inhibitors for HIV, or cancer chemotherapy drugs: Use of glutamine may reduce intestinal side effects.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 08/2013 -
- Update Date: 08/22/2013 -