I am absolutely mystified… For some strange reason glutamine or L-Glutamine as it was officially christened, as of today has not been truly discovered by the world at large! What do I mean by discovered? Well, it just seems a little odd to me that an amino acid that composes the greater portion of your skeletal muscle mass and is depleted through daily and excessive physical exertion does not play a bigger role in repair, recovery and general maintenance of…well the greater than 60% of your body. Glutamine is an amino acid found in proteins of all life forms and is classified as a semi-essential or conditionally essential amino acid. This means that under normal circumstances the body can synthesize sufficient L-glutamine to meet physiological demands. Nonetheless, there are conditions where the body cannot do so. So my dilemma is, should I open up the floodgates and exclaim to the world how important glutamine is or should I contribute to the suppression of what I view as one of the most vital elements necessary for bodily integrity and overall health? You know what… I’m going to do what I do and that is to speak the truth, and I’ll let you determine how vital glutamine is to you. Okay? Great!
Of late, glutamine has come to be reputed as merely an important amino acid when the body is subjected to such metabolic stress situations as trauma (including surgical trauma), cancer, sepsis and burns, this list also includes traumas or excessive uses as hard-core training for athletics, emotional stress and the daily rigors of a demanding lifestyle, I couldn’t agree more. Under these conditions, L-glutamine becomes an essential amino acid, and it is therefore very important to ensure adequate intake or replacement of the amino acid in order to meet the increased physiological and psychological demands created by these circumstances. But again, with all the physiological, psychological and shall we even dare say spiritual stressors that we are subjected to…my personal assessment (guess) is that glutamine is far more important to us than those who are in the positions of power, persuasion and leverage might have us believe. Logic dictates that if we fall apart faster, more often and do so frequently…well there is just the system already in place to take care of us…think bout it!
Luckily glutamine is indeed and without argument the most abundant amino acid found in the body, (thank goodness for science) and plasma (blood) glutamine levels are the highest of any amino acid. Glutamine is predominantly manufactured (synthesized) and stored in skeletal muscle. The amino acid L-glutamate is metabolized to L-glutamine in a reaction catalyzed (To initiate a chemical reaction and enable it to proceed under different conditions) by the enzyme glutamine synthase, a reaction which, in addition to L-glutamate, requires ammonia, ATP and magnesium…ya’ dig?
And if that isn’t fascinating enough, glutamine is also an overtly multipurpose amino acid and participates in many particular reactions in the body. Glutamine is very important in the regulation of acid-base balance and glutamine additionally allows the kidneys to excrete an acid load, protecting the body against acidosis. This is accomplished by the production of ammonia, which binds hydrogen ions, to produce ammonium cations (a positively charged polyatomic ion of the chemical formula NH4+ and a molecular mass of 18.04, resulting from protonation of ammonia (NH3).) that are excreted in the urine along with chloride anions. Bicarbonate ions are simultaneously released into the bloodstream. If that just ain’t powerful enough, check this out…glutamine helps protect the body against ammonia toxicity by transporting ammonia, in the form of glutamine’s amide group, from peripheral tissues to visceral organs, where it can be excreted as ammonium by the kidneys or converted to urea by the liver. Sorry about the science mumbo-jumbo, but because I whole-heartedly feel glutamine is so important, I only think that it is right to convey these messages, so without further delay…a little more uh…mumbo-jumbo (gibberish).
This miracle amino acid also participates in other metabolic activities such as; serving as the most important nitrogen shuttle, supplying nitrogen for metabolic purposes (from glutamine-producing tissues, such as skeletal muscle) to glutamine-consuming tissues. Pretty cool huh? Well that isn’t the whole shebang, please continue.
Besides all that good stuff, glutamine also participates in the formation of purine and pyrimidine nucleotides, amino sugars (such as glucosamine), L-glutamate and other amino acids, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide and glutathione. As well as the participation in protein synthesis, energy production and, if necessary, the production of D-glucose and glycogen. Importantly, glutamine can serve as the primary respiratory substrate (The material or substance on which an enzyme acts or a surface on which an organism grows or is attached) for the production of energy in enterocytes and lymphocytes. Glutamine is considered an immunonutrient, and supplemental L-glutamine is used in medical foods for such stress situations as the above mentioned traumas, cancers, infections and burns and post-burn infections to all degrees.
Supplemental glutamine’s possible immunomodulatory role may be accounted for in a number of ways. Glutamine appears to play a major role in protecting the integrity of the gastrointestinal tract and, in particular, the large intestine. During catabolic states, the integrity of the intestinal mucosa may be compromised with consequent increased intestinal permeability and translocation of Gram-negative bacteria from the large intestine into the body. The requirement for glutamine by the intestine, as well as by cells such as lymphocytes, appears to be much greater than that supplied by skeletal muscle, the major storage tissue for glutamine add glutamine is the preferred respiratory fuel for enterocytes, colonocytes and lymphocytes. Therefore, supplying supplemental glutamine under these conditions may do a number of things. For one, it more than likely will reverse the catabolic state by sparing skeletal muscle glutamine. It also may inhibit translocation of Gram-negative bacteria from the large intestine. Glutamine helps maintain secretory IgA, which functions primarily by preventing the attachment of bacteria to mucosal cells.
There is now a significant body of evidence that connects glutamine enriched diets with positive intestinal effects; the aiding and maintenance of gut barrier function, intestinal cell propagation, as well as assisting in the general reduction of septic morbidity. The reason for such cleansing properties is thought to emanate from the fact that the intestinal extraction rate of glutamine is higher than that for other amino acids and is subsequently thought to be the most viable option when endeavoring to alleviate conditions relating to the intestine. These conditions were discovered after comparing plasma concentration within the stomach between glutamine enriched and non glutamine enriched diets. However, even though glutamine is thought to have cleansing properties and effects, it is unknown to what extent it has clinical benefits, due to the varied concentrations of glutamine in varieties of food.
Moreover, glutamine appears to be required to support the increase of mitogen-stimulated lymphocytes, as well as the production of interleukin-2 (IL-2) and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma). It is also required for the maintenance of lymphokine-activated killer cells (LAK). Glutamine can enhance phagocytosis by neutrophils and monocytes. It can lead to an increased synthesis of glutathione in the intestine, which may also play a role in maintaining the integrity of the intestinal mucosa by ameliorating oxidative stress.
But the precise mechanism of the possible immunomodulatory action of supplemental glutamine on the other hand, still remains unresolved. My guess is and it is more than conceivable that the major effect of glutamine occurs at the level of the intestine (in the tummy). And perchance enteral glutamine acts expressly on intestine-associated lymphoid tissue and stimulates overall immune function by that mechanism, without passing beyond the splanchnic bed.
Glutamine Reduces Post-Burn Infections
By reference from a fairly recent study in Critical Care Medicine (2003; 31:2444-9) glutamine lowers infection risk and may lead to fewer deaths and shorter hospital stays in burn victims. In the study, 41 adults under the age of 65 years with severe burns covering between 20 and 80% of their skin were assigned to receive standard nutrition through a feeding tube supplemented with 4.3 grams of glutamine or supplemented with other amino acids (aspartic acid, asparagine, and glycine) every four hours (up to 26 grams per day). Treatment was continued until complete healing of the burns occurred. Time spent in the hospital, incidence of blood infections, and the number of deaths was recorded.
The incidence of blood infections was three times higher in individuals receiving the control mixture than in those getting supplemental glutamine in their feeding tube. No deaths occurred in the group receiving glutamine among the 19 individuals who survived the first 72 hours, compared with eight deaths among the 16 people in the control group who survived the first 72 hours. Time spent in the hospital was also significantly reduced in those receiving glutamine. The anticatabolic/anabolic activity of supplemental glutamine can be explicated by its effect in and its efficiency in sparing skeletal muscle glutamine stores. Glutamine powder is a flavorless, easy-mixing, pure, free amino acid powder.
What it can do for you
Clinical studies reveal that glutamine supplementation can help support recovery after intensive training by promoting energy replenishment, maintaining a healthy immune system and by maximizing your body’s buffering capacity against lactic acid build-up.
Again, glutamine is the most common amino acid found in your muscles – over 6o% of skeletal muscle is indeed glutamine. It consists of 19% nitrogen, making it the primary transporter of nitrogen into your muscle cells. During extreme training, glutamine levels are greatly depleted in your body, which decreases strength, stamina and recovery. It could take up to a week for glutamine levels to return to normal. Glutamine supplementation can minimize breakdown of muscle and improve protein metabolism.
In addition to playing key roles in protein metabolism, cell volumizing and anti-catabolism, glutamine will also increase your ability to secrete Human Growth Hormone, which helps metabolize body-fat and support new muscle tissue growth. Glutamine’s anti-catabolism ability prevents the breakdown of your muscular integrity. This is especially useful for those of you ‘cutting down’. Especially during the spring into summer when you’re trying to get rid of unwanted body fat, without losing any hard-earned muscle.
Especially notably because glutamine levels are depleted during workouts, bodybuilders are more susceptible to illnesses and this is why glutamine supplementation is so important, not necessarily to gain more muscle, but for the sustenance of muscular integrity and bodily vitality and because glutamine supplementation promotes a positive nitrogen balance and prevents the loss of muscle. Recent studies have also shown that taking just 2 grams of glutamine can increase growth hormone levels by a staggering 400%.
Now, if all this is not proof enough for you to do a little research of your own, then I just don’t know what to tell ya’, but if I have contributed to triggering your interest in glutamine, I have done what I set out to do…and that is to convey TRUTH! Here is to you, your vitality and to the truth. -Know Thyself!