3Glutamine is one of the body’s 20 amino acids, specifically one of the non-essential amino acids, meaning that it is also synthesized by the body. Being a non-essential amino acid does not mean that it is not important, as glutamine is used by every cell in the body. 2It plays a major role in the digestive, excretory, immune, muscular, and nervous systems. 3Glutamine though is “non-essential” makes up 50% of the amino acid in serum, and is 60% of the total free amino acid found in the body.
2Glutamine is a precursor and fuel for many different important chemicals in the body. It acts as a carbon and nitrogen donor, making it an important molecule for anabolic processes. Glutamine is used readily by rapidly dividing cells in the intestines. 1It is also supports muscular synthesis, and maintains muscle mass. Insufficient intake of glutamine is seen to cause atrophy. The importance of glutamine in the muscular system is made obvious by the fact bodybuilder’s supplement it into their diets to keep an anabolic state. In addition to being a building block for muscles, glutamine as well as other amino acids, keep an osmotic pressure in the muscle cells, thus increasing the volume of water held in the muscles. This extra water helps prevent atrophy in the muscle tissues because more solute can be held within each cell. 4In the immune system glutamine is used as an energy source for T-cells and natural killer B cells. Glutamine is produced from glutamate, which removes free ammonia in the body, reducing toxicity of blood. Ammonia is very toxic in that it produces free radicals throughout the body, and it interferes with ATP production. 4This can be seen through an experiment done on Japanese runners, after the marathon, the experimental group saw a significant decrease in blood urea levels, while the control group(have taken no glutamine) did not see a noticeable change.


In the nervous system, glutamine readily passes the blood-brain barrier, because of its non-polar structure. 5It is used as fuel for the brain and is also made into many excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters. 5Glutamine can also help control blood sugar levels because it is can be readily be converted into glucose for metabolism when glucose levels are low. 5The body can also use glutamine as a pH regulator, when pH is low(acidic) glutamine is sent to the kidneys and bicarbonate ions are released, thus neutralizing some of the acid in blood. When pH is high(basic), glutamine is sent to the liver and metabolized where hydrogen ions are released decreasing pH. Other functions include glutamine being a substrate for glutathione, an antioxidant, and conversion to glutamate for ATP production through the Kreb’s cycle.
4Clinical uses of glutamine are primarily for recovery of the immune system, injuries such as burns or wounds, and various bowel illnesses. Increasing the glutamine levels in the body help to increase immune function and muscular synthesis. 3Glutamine is also being used to treat cancer through it’s support of the immune system, specifically T-cells and killer B cells.

1Boza, Julio, Marco Turnini, Olivier Ballèvre, Denis Moennoz, Franck Montigon, Jacques Vulchoud, Nathalie Gueissaz, Gerard Gremaud, Etienne Pouteau, Christelle Piguet-Welsch, and Paul Finot. "Effect of glutamine supplementation of the diet on tissue protein synthesis rate of glucocorticoid-treated rats." SciVerse 17.1 (2001): 35-40. www.scidirect.com. Web. 13 May 2011.
2"Glutamine." University of Maryland Medical Center | Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 June 2011. <http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/glutamine-000307.htm>.
3Greenwell, Ivy. "LE Magazine, September 1999 - Report: Glutamine: The Essential "Non-Essential" Amino Acid." Highest Quality Vitamins And Supplements - Life Extension. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 June 2011. <http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag99/sep99-report3.html>.
4Odebunmi, Olu. "Glutamine & Muscle Building | LIVESTRONG.COM." LIVESTRONG.COM - Lose Weight & Get Fit with Diet, Nutrition & Fitness Tools. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2011. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/290052-glutamine-muscle-building/>.
5Sawaki, Keisuke, Ikuo Takaoka, Keishuko Sakuraba, and Yoshio Suzuki. "Effects of distance running and subsequent intake of glutamine rich peptide on biomedical parameters of male Japanese athletes." SciVerse 24.1 (2004): 59-71. www.sciencedirect.com. Web. 13 May 2011.
6Sparkman, Dennis R.. "Article: The Power of Glutamine by Dennis R. Sparkman, Ph.D. ." Getbig.com: American Bodybuilding, Fitness and Figure. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2011. <http://www.getbig.com/articles/glut-1.htm>.

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