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L-Glutamine Information

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Maximize Your Potential with the "Wonder Nutrient": L-Glutamine

Imagine a nutrient that can improve human fat metabolism, increase the ability of the human brain, strengthen the immune system and improve muscle mass all at the same time. This is precisely what the amino acid glutamine can do. The most recent animal and human studies have demonstrated that L-Glutamine is significantly more effective in regulating muscle protein than Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA).(1) Recent clinical studies have demonstrated that L-Glutamine is at least four times more effective in improving nitrogen balance than BCAA's in post-operative patients.(5-8)

The addition of L-Glutamine in dosages of 500-1,000 mgs. B.I.D. (twice daily) has caused an increase in friendly bacteria count (Bifido, and Lacto-bacillis acidolphilis).(11-12) Leaky gut syndrome, which is one of the major causes of food allergies resolves itself with L-Glutamine administration.(13,25) Stressful conditions, including surgery,(14) fasting,(15) glucocorticoid administration,(16) and exercise, (17) consistently reduce intramuscular glutamine levels. Glutamine depletion is more severe and lasts longer than any other amino acid lost from the muscle.(18) Stress hormones (glucocorticoids, epinephrine, glucagon) cause a reduction in intramuscular glutamine by stimulating both muscle glutamine synthesis as well as creating the efflux or escape of this amino acid from skeletal muscle. (19,20)


Life can be demanding and stressful, and you can really run your body into the ground. Americans are notorious for skipping meals because of hectic work schedules or in hopes of losing weight. These factors stress the auto-immune system by limiting the very nutrients that are needed to build new white blood cells and repair damaged cells in the body.

Drinking large amounts of coffee, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol stresses the body's ability to perform optimally. Alcohol, antibiotics and diets high in animal-proteins and fats damage the mucosal lining of the small intestine.(2,3) The micro-villi (hair like structures in the intestine) assist in the movement and absorption of foods through the small intestine. When damaged, they take on the appearance of grass that has been cut too close to the ground. The shortened micro-villi cannot perform their function correctly, which leads to malabsorption, leaky gut syndrome and increases in pathogenic micro-organisms (unfriendly bacteria).(9,10)


Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid found in the body and is primarily located in the lining of the small intestine.(24) Glutamine contributes a significant role in muscle metabolism during sickness, stress and exercise. The gastrointestinal tract cannot function without glutamine. Glutamine is the primary treatment for ulcers, and disorders of the small and large intestine such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) which is characterized by constipation, diarrhea or both.

Glutamine feeds the tissue of the small intestine enabling the villi to grow and improve absorption of nutrients across the cell membrane more efficiently. Glutamine works inside the liver to produce the super powerful amino acid Glutathione, which is one of the main free radical fighters within the body.(24) While the addition of anti-oxidants (Vitamins E, C and Beta-Carotene) are important in the removal of free radicals from the body, without Glutathione the fight would be lost and the body would suffer in many ways.


Glutamine improves the immune system's ability to manufacture white blood cells that in turn fight infection. Supplementing your body with nutrients such as Glutamine assists the body in resisting outside assaults from pathogenic micro-organisms (unfriendly bacteria).

Glutamine is the major component in making essential neuro-transmitters.(21) Research has demonstrated improvements in memory retention, cognitive ability, and problem solving when Glutamine was supplemented in the diet. Glutamine enables the body to maintain constant blood sugar levels.(22) This state of steady blood sugar balance is necessary for optimal brain function since the brain utilizes glucose (blood sugar) as a primary source of fuel in addition to oxygen.

When the brain has adequate glucose to draw on, muscle stores of glucose are preserved. When an individual does not eat enough complex carbohydrates to replace energy needs, the body will liberate, or breakdown, stored sugars from the muscle to feed the brain. The net result is a tired, weak and stressed individual.


  • Eat a proper diet with adequate complex carbohydrates (breads, pasta, rice, potatoes, fruits and vegetables). Remember to rotate foods to avoid single food allergies.
  • Drink water that is chlorine, sodium and fluorine free - eight 8-ounce glasses each day as a minimum.
  • Avoid eating more than 5% of your total daily fat intake in saturated fats (animal fats). (25)
  • Exercise regularly - cardiovascular activity for a minimum of 20 minutes three times per week combined with resistance training.
  • Get a balanced daily intake of anti-oxidant supplements (Beta-Carotene, Vitamin E and Vitamin C) and L-Glutamine.(24,25)


Glutamine safety studies have been done on healthy volunteers using doses of up to 0.75 grams per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. Take into consideration that body weight has not-been adjusted for percentage of bodyfat, and the actual dose of L-Glutamine on fat free weight (muscle and organ) is significantly higher.

Example: The average adult female has a bodyfat percentage of 28.5%. If this individual weighs 160 lbs. (x) 28.5% = 45.6 pounds of fat, or 114.4 pounds of fat free weight. By using this formula this individual would over-estimate her need for glutamine by 16 grams (39 gram dosage at 52 kgs (114.4 pounds) (x) 0.75 grams versus 55 gram dosage at 74.4 kgs (160 pounds) (x) 0.75 grams).


  1. Tischler, ME et al. J Biol Chem 1982; 257:1613-21
  2. Jepson, MM et al. Am J. Physiol 1988; 255
  3. Maclennan, PA et al. FEBS, Letters 1987; 215:187-191
  4. Max, SR et al. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1990; 22:325-330
  5. Stehle, P. et al. Lancet 1989; 231-233
  6. Hammarquist, F. et al. Ann Surgery 1989; 209:455-61
  7. Werneman, J. et al. Metabolism 1989;(suppl 1):63-66
  8. Werneman, J. et al. Lancet 1990; 335:701-3
  9. Cerra, FB et al. Ann Surgery 1984; 199:288-91
  10. Bonau, RA et al. Surgery 1987; 101:400-7
  11. Bonau, RA et al. JPEN 1984; 8:622-27
  12. Vinnars, E. et al. Ann Surgery 1975; 163:665-70
  13. Carli, F. et al. Clin Sci 1990; 78:6231-8
  14. Askanazi, J. et al. Ann Surgery 1980; 192:78-85
  15. Furst, P. et al. In Clinical Nutrition 1981; 10-17
  16. Muhlbacher, F. et al. Am J Physiol 1984; 14
  17. Rennie, MJ et al. Clin Sci 1981; 61:627-39
  18. Vinnars, E. et al. JPEN 1990; 14:1258-9
  19. Wernerman, J. et al. Clin Nutr 1987; 6(suppl):33
  20. Rennie, MJ et al. Lancet 1986; ii:1008-12
  21. Furst, P. Proc. 6th Congr. ESPEN, Milan 1984; 21-53
  22. Bulus, N. et al. Metabolism 1989; 38(8, suppl 1):1-15
  23. Stryer, L. Biochemistry (3rd edition) 1988
  24. Shabert, J., MD et al. The Ultimate Nutrient: Glutamine, 1994
  25. Cooper, K. Anti-Oxidant Revolution, 1994
  26. Lowe, DK et al. Glutamine-Enriched Parenteral Nutrition Is Safe in Normal Humans, Surg Forum 40 1989; 9-11
  27. Ziegler, TR et al. Safety and Metabolic Effects of L-Glutamine Administration in Hunians, JPEN 14 1990; 137S-146S
  28. Emery, AEH et al. Antenatal Diagnosis and Amino Acid Composition of Amniotic Fluid, Lancet I 1970: 1307-1308
  29. Hawkins, RA Hyperammenomia Does Not Impair Brain Function in the Absence of Net Glutamine Synthesis, Biochem J 277 1991: 697-703
  30. Gant, C., MD Interview on Ammonia Clearance and Liver Dysfunction, April 5, 1995.

--by Mark J. Occhipinti, M.S.,, Exercise Physiologist/Nutritional Consultant and President of American Fitness Professionals and Associates,

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