January 21, 2017

Glutamine – A Building Block for a Healthy Body

An in-depth look at the popular amino acid

By Rob Fischer

What do cancer treatment, extreme sports and stress all have in common? They all deplete the glutamine in your body compromising your immune system and your health.

Glutamine, or L-glutamine, is the most abundant amino acid in your body comprising as much as 61% of your skeletal tissue.[1] Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and vital to human health. And your body needs this particular amino acid in large amounts.

  • Your immune cells gobble up glutamine as fuel.
  • Your body can use the glutamine in the muscles to synthesize protein and build muscle mass.
  • Your brain uses it to help you think, feel, and move through life.
  • Your small intestines are dependent on glutamine to support the regeneration and repair of cells lining the intestinal wall. [2]

Essentially, glutamine is required for muscle growth, brain health, and the integrity of your gut, which profoundly impacts your immune system. Increased glutamine levels are thought to allow more of your body’s processes to run as scheduled, even in times of injury, overwork, or stress.

Under ideal circumstances your body can produce all the glutamine you need from what you eat. But few people eat in a way that provides the necessary glutamine. Additionally, cancer treatment, physical trauma due to injury or surgery, prolonged physical exertion and even heavy stress can drastically reduce the amount of glutamine in your body.

Low levels of glutamine in your body especially impact your digestive system. Normally, your gut should serve your body as the primary defense against disease. But without the glutamine it needs, your gut can become a gateway for infections and autoimmune diseases.[3]

Leaky Gut Syndrome

Have you ever wondered why there’s been such a sharp rise in allergies and autoimmune diseases in recent years? Millions of Americans suffer with leaky gut syndrome today. And we now know that leaky gut syndrome is the primary culprit behind almost all of these autoimmune diseases.[4], [5]

leaky-gut-autoimmune-diseaseSome of these autoimmune diseases include:[6]

  • Lupus
  • Alopecia areata
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Polymyalgia rheumatic
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Thyroiditis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Hives
  • Raynaud’s syndrome
  • And others

Inflammation in the cells of the intestines results in abnormally large gaps in the lining of the intestines. These gaps allow the gut to “leak” toxins into the bloodstream that your body would normally eliminate. We could compare this to your septic system leaking sewage into your drinking water! No wonder you get sick!

Glutamine is the primary fuel source for cells in your small intestine. So it comes as no surprise that glutamine has been shown to repair leaky gut syndrome in clinical studies.[7] In fact, if you have any kind of inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s, colitis, diverticulosis, diverticulitis, Hashimoto’s, or issues associated with leaky gut syndrome, supplementing with glutamine may be one of the best things you can do for your health.[8]

Other Benefits of Glutamine

glutamine-for-brainAs mentioned above, injuries, surgery, cancer treatment (chemotherapy), extreme physical exertion, and plain old stress can deplete your body’s level of glutamine. Following any of these episodes, your body is more susceptible to disease and infection. If you’re experiencing any of these traumas to the body, a glutamine supplement may help you get your health back on track.[9]

Burn victims and cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy are especially finding relief through supplementation with glutamine.[10]

Many athletes and bodybuilders supplement with glutamine because it promotes speedy recovery, and enhances muscle repair and growth. Glutamine also assists in the release of Human Growth Hormone (HGH), which increases the metabolism and reduces fat.[11]

Glutamine can also improve brain function and calm anxiety and stress. The importance of glutamine in the brain is seen from the fact that glutamine is 10 to 15 times more prevalent in the brain than in the blood. Taking glutamine may be the ticket to sharpening your focus, alertness and memory. .[12]

Increase Your Glutamine Intake Naturally

Notice that we’re talking about eating right before we talk about supplementation. Too many people think they can continue poor eating habits and simply take a pill or supplement to offset their bad habits. That’s like building a nice house on a bad foundation. So let’s start with really healthy foods.

The recommended minimum daily allowance of glutamine is 10g. Under certain circumstances higher doses up to 40g per day are taken.

Glutamine is abundant in animal proteins: meats, fish, and dairy as well as many vegetables. Some great sources of glutamine include:[13]

  • glutamine-natural-sourcesBone broth
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Wild fish
  • Wild meats
  • Turkey
  • Cottage cheese
  • Beans
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Beets

Supplementing with Glutamine

It’s best to get your vitamins, nutrients and minerals naturally through your food. Unfortunately, most people do not get enough glutamine from their diet. Therefore, supplementing with glutamine can help boost your immune system and overall health.

There are two types of glutamine supplements: glutamine peptides and L-glutamine. Glutamine peptides are bonded with other amino acids, are more stable and your body can assimilate them more easily. L-glutamine is not bonded to other amino acids and is therefore called “free form.”[14]

Glutamine supplements are also manufactured in two ways: synthetically and via fermentation of vegetable matter (the real thing). We recommend taking real glutamine.

Finally, glutamine comes in two forms: a tasteless powder that can be added to shakes and smoothies, or capsules.

To sum up, you’re looking for glutamine obtained via fermentation in powder or capsule form. Most sources recommend taking between 2 and 5 grams of the supplement twice daily: once in the morning and again at night.[15]

Many of the glutamine supplements cater to athletes, so if you’re not an athlete don’t be put off by the packaging and advertising hype! The top two rated glutamine supplements happen to be manufactured by the same company. One is a powder, the other capsules.

Glutamine Powder by Kaged Muscle. (I warned you about the marketing hype!) This is 100% pure, vegetable fermentation, GRAS approved, made in the USA. This product rated 9.7 out of 10 with 136 reviews. It costs $14.99 for 300 grams (60 servings). (GRAS approved means, “Generally Recognized As Safe” by the American Food and Drug Administration.)

Glutamine Capsules by Kaged Muscle is also rated very high with the same quality standards as the powder form. One dose equals 1.45 grams of glutamine. A $13.99 bottle contains 250 capsules or a little over a two-month supply.


If you suffer from leaky gut syndrome, have any other digestive disorder, or suspect that your glutamine levels might be low, why not try a glutamine supplement for a couple of months and see what happens. Also, don’t forget to eat plenty of those foods that naturally contain glutamine.

No matter what your gut type, you can probably benefit from these probiotic supplementsprobiotic beverages, and a healthy dose of fiber. (Bonus: they’re all super tasty!)

Rob FischerRob Fischer has been writing professionally for over 35 years. His experience includes ghostwriting, creating curricula, study guides, articles, blogs, newsletters, manuals, workbooks, and training courses. He has written over a dozen books and serves as an editor for a nationally known copywriter.





[1] L-Glutamine Benefits, nd, http://www.l-glutaminebenefits.com/.
[2] Dr. Josh Axe, “L-Glutamine Benefits,” nd, https://draxe.com/l-glutamine-benefits-side-effects-dosage/.
[3] L-Glutamine, nd, http://aminoacidstudies.org/l-glutamine/.
[4] Dr. Josh Axe.
[5] Dr. Jill Carnahan, MD, “Leaky Gut – The Syndrome Linked to Many Autoimmune Diseases,” Dr. Jill, July 7, 2014, http://www.jillcarnahan.com/2014/07/07/leaky-gut-syndrome-linked-many-autoimmune-diseases/.
[6] Dr. Jill Carnahan, MD.
[7] Dr. Josh Axe.
[8] Dr. Josh Axe.
[9] L-Glutamine.
[10] WebMD, “Glutamine,” nd, http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-878-glutamine.aspx?activeingredientid=878&.
[11] L-Glutamine Benefits.
[12] L-Glutamine Benefits.
[13] Dr. Josh Axe.
[14] Lisa Freedman, “Glutamine,” Men’s Fitness, nd, http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/supplements/glutamine.
[15] Dr. Josh Axe.

Glutamine: Brain Food For Autistic Children

Antioxidants are known to help prevent diseases such as cancer and heart disease, but the presence of the antioxidant glutathione is gaining popularity in helping to fight autism.

Glutathione, a protein and natural antioxidant defense against free radicals, acts on toxins such as pesticides, lead, dry cleaning solvents and others to transform these toxins into something the body can excrete more easily.

Unfortunately, glutathione is not absorbed into the system when taken orally.  But by taking other supplements, such as Vitamin C or Glutamine, you can raise natural glutathione levels in the body.

Glutamine, in particular, does so many good things in the body that is being used to treat various conditions, such as preventing infections that often follow endurance exercise, reducing symptoms of overtraining syndrome, improving nutrition in critical illness, alleviating allergies, and treating digestive problems by fueling the cells of the intestines.

Particularly in autistic children, glutamine has had some success in improving health and language processing by acting as a “brain food.” Those with learning and developmental disabilities use this “smart drug” to help manage inflammation and readily cross the blood-brain barrier to stimulate alertness, improve intelligence, sooth erratic behavior, aid in memory recall and most importantly, helps with behavioral problems and autism in children.

To determine if glutamine will work for someone with autism, a 30-day trail period is recommended.

For young children, under the age of 9, try up to 1,000 mg.  Older children can take up to 1,500 mg.

Glutamine occurs naturally in high protein foods such as raw meat, fish beans and dairy products.  However, cooking destroys glutamine, so try recommended Glutamine supplements.





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