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L-Glutamine: Uses, Benefits and Contraindications

by Georgia Ede
Published: Last Updated on

What is glutamine and what is it for?

Glutamine (L-glutamine) is an amino acid , present in the body that is synthesized from glutamine acid, that non-essential amino acid that is responsible for different functions in the body is one of the few amino acids that has nitrogen atoms, for what a good source of nitrogen.

Glutamine is part of the proteins and is responsible for regulating cellular hydration and has the ability to increase the synthesis of growth hormone, therefore it is used to increase muscle mass , as well as to improve and accelerate muscle recovery after exercise.

Glutamine has the ability to serve as an energy source for the cells of the immune system and the cells of the intestinal mucosa, which is why it is used for digestive problems. It also has the ability to neutralize the acidity of the muscles and is involved in the formation of glucosamine. It is also used for different diseases of the intestinal tract , so it is very interesting at the protective level of the immune system and defenses, which is housed in the intestines.

Glutamine and sport

This amino acid in athletes must be considered an essential amino acid, since its consumption during exercise is greater than the capacity to synthesize it by the body.

During exercise, glutamine is diminished, an hour and a half after exercise its lowest level is observed, therefore the contribution of glutamine is essential for the body of athletes.

It is also used as a source of energy, and helps to protect the state of muscle health from muscle protein catabolism produced by intense sports training.

It also helps muscle and functional recovery after exercise.

Properties of L-Glutamine

Glutamine is used mainly for post-exercise recovery , as well as to protect the gastrointestinal tract and in diseases related to the intestines and stomach such as colitis or Chron’s disease.

It stimulates the immune system , as you already know, most of our immune system is found in the intestine, so glutamine strengthens and protects it, making it much more resistant.

Reduces the muscle pain exercise post and accelerates muscle recovery as mentioned above.

It is sometimes used in cancer patients, because their levels decrease and this contributes to a worsening of symptoms derived from treatments (chemotherapy and radiotherapy, as well as strong oral treatments that weaken the health of patients with this disease). It is used to accelerate recovery, reduce weakness , fatigue, to combat malnutrition due to lack of appetite, etc.

It is also used as a nutritional supplement in cases of weight loss in immunosuppressed patients or with serious diseases, in cases of type II diabetes, but we must emphasize that there is no scientific consensus on some of its uses, so we always recommend that you put in the knowledge of your doctor any

How does Glutamine affect gut health?

Glutamine acts as a gastrointestinal protector, favoring the increase in intestinal hairiness, and also helps to maintain the intestinal mucosa, also helping to maintain the intestinal walls in optimal health. It has an anti-inflammatory property at the gastrointestinal level.

It also helps the production of enterocytes, cells that are housed in the intestinal cavity and that are responsible for the correct assimilation of nutrients by the intestines, and preventing toxic substances from getting into the bloodstream thus avoiding infections.

As you already know, most of our defense and immune system is found in the intestines, so its protective and curative action in it makes us enjoy a more powerful and resistant immune system , against possible diseases.

How to take glutamine and in what dose?

Generally, through food the body receives enough glutamine, below we explain which foods have the highest amount of glutamine in case you want to include them in your diet to improve the contributions.

It can also be supplemented if you suffer from any pathology in which it can benefit you and if you exercise intensely.

Amino acids are better assimilated on an empty stomach, so we recommend taking them with plenty of water 30 minutes before meals.

For this we recommend a dose of between 2 to 3 grams twice a day , always informing your doctor to avoid possible interactions with medications or any problems derived from their consumption.

If we take glutamine for a long time, we may also need a supplementation of vitamin B12, since it takes care of the glutamine reserves in the body.

Glutamine-containing foods

Glutamine is present in many foods, since from the diet, the body synthesizes enough glutamine for the body’s needs, unless there are higher needs such as; the practice of intense physical exercise.

We can find glutamine both in foods of animal origin and of vegetable origin, of which we can highlight the following:


  • Plant-based foods : cabbage, beets, lentils, beans, beans, peas, in general legumes and mainly soybeans.

Green leafy vegetables, especially spinach and mainly raw. Cabbage, broad beans, Brussels sprouts, carrots, parsley. Among the cereals we highlight oats, spelled and wheat germ, quinoa, millet and brown rice.

Nuts also have glutamine, among them we highlight peanuts, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, etc. Here we leave you more information about proteins of plant origin .

  • The foods of animal origin that have glutamine are: chicken, beef, pork, dairy in general and egg white.

Contraindications of L-glutamine

  • It is not recommended in children or adolescents.
  • Its consumption is not recommended for pregnant women or when breastfeeding.
  • Patients with liver or kidney sensitivity.
  • Patients with psychological disorders or epilepsy, bipolar disorder.
  • Patients with sensitivity to monosodium glutamate.
  • Diabetics should consult their consumption with a medical specialist.

It is not advisable to consume glutamine for more than 5 months, since there are no studies that support that its consumption is safe for a long time, so if we want to consume it, it is better to do it in 3-month intervals with another three months of rest and try their efects.

In addition, glutamine can interfere with seizure medications, so we should always consult a doctor about the consumption of food supplements.

Possible side effects

  • It can cause fluid retention and produce edema (swelling of the extremities).
  • It can increase the predisposition to suffer dehydration.
  • Increase thirst. Increased sweating
  • Dizziness, headache, nausea, depression.
  • Constipation, bleeding after defecation due to dehydration.
  • Skin rash.
  • symptoms of insomnia or trouble sleeping.

In the event of any symptoms, it is advisable to withdraw the L-glutamine supplementation and make our situation known to the doctor.

Remember that nutritional supplements also have side effects, so it is always advisable to make it known to the doctor.

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