Glutamine: The Benefits Of This Amino Acid

Glutamine, which goes by many name iterations, is an amino acid that is found naturally in the body and can also be taken as a dietary supplement. Many bodybuilders and gym-goers are familiar with glutamine supplementation, and for good reason. Using glutamine offers a ton of benefits the body—even for those who don’t regularly lift weights.

This article offers a quick guide to glutamine. We’ll discuss its function and various benefits, potential side effects, and offer a few suggestions for where to purchase glutamine products.

What is Glutamine and What Does It Do?

Put simply, glutamine is an important part of overall health. The amino acid carries nitrogen throughout the body to provide energy to cells. Additionally, it can reduce muscle decay for athletes or those suffering from various illnesses.

Glutamine is an amino acid

Amino acids play a major part in the body’s physiological processes such as energy, mood, muscle growth, brain function, and more. Glutamine, specifically, helps maintain the immune system, skeletal system, and intestinal health.

Glutamine is considered a conditionally essential amino acid. This means the amino acid is naturally produced in sufficient amounts by the body but can also be supported through external means like supplement usage and diet.

Glutamine is Abundant in The Body And Helps Build Protein

Amino acids like glutamine can be thought of as building blocks for protein. Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body and is used by the body’s skeletal muscles, kidneys, intestines, liver, and is a critical piece of the immune system. Even though glutamine is produced naturally, stress such as illness or strength training can deplete the body’s supplies.

These types of bodily stress can make it necessary to intake more glutamine through diet or supplementation since maintaining adequate glutamine levels is a critical part of staying healthy. In fact, research has shown supplementing with glutamine can mitigate any muscle breakdown while improving protein metabolism.

Supplementation can also provide various other advantages for multiple parts of the body.

Glutamine Benefits For Exercise, The Gut, And The Immune System

In addition to improving muscular strength (and preventing muscle breakdown), taking glutamine supplements can benefit the stomach, intestines, and the immune system.

L-Glutamine Helps Cells in The Small Intestine

The small intestine is one of the main organs that rely on glutamine to maintain its functionality. In fact, glutamine serves as one of the three major fuel sources for the organ.

Glutamine helps produce healthy cells in the gut as it assists in the transportation and absorption of nutrients we intake from food. This can improve the digestive process, provide more energy to the body, and treat illness in the gut.

The L-Glutamine Leaky Gut Cure

The gut is the largest organ that comprises the immune system, so maintaining its health is vital. “Leaky gut” is a term used for gastrointestinal issues that doctors cannot quite diagnose and can be a sign for more worrisome problems, as some consider the syndrome to be a red flag for autoimmune diseases like Chrons.

A potential cause of leaky gut syndrome is found in the intestines. When intentional proteins fail to work properly, nutrients can permeate the intestines and enter the bloodstream. Since glutamine is an important part of building and maintaining these intestinal proteins, studies suggest it can treat and even cure leaky gut.

Glutamine Boosts The Immune System And Lowers Inflammation

The cells that help the immune system require glutamine to work, as the amino acid allows healthy, disease-fighting white blood cells to grow. Anything that uses white blood cells, like fighting illness, injury, or infection, can deplete glutamine levels. The body will then break down protein stored in muscles to access more glutamine.

Alternatively, supplementing with glutamine can replenish the amino acid without taking it from the muscular system. Further, glutamine reduces the inflammation caused in response to injury or infection. This can lead to lower pain levels and quicker recovery times.

Burns And Other Wounds Can Heal Faster With Glutamine

Physical trauma like burns or wounds requires glutamine to heal. Supplementing with glutamine allows cells to heal without taking protein from muscles, which reduces recovery times.

Glutamine Benefits Those Undergoing Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy attacks the cells in the body, be they cancerous or healthy. Some research has pointed to the treatment as a cause for intentional permeability, which is believed to be the cause of leaky gut syndrome since it breaks down intestinal proteins. Supplementing with glutamine can decrease leaky gut and allow a patient to better fight infection.

Glutamine Can Increase Nitrogen Levels in The Body

In addition to attacking cells, radiation and chemo destroys proteins and reduces nitrogen levels in the body. Nitrogen plays a crucial role in building protein, providing oxygen to the blood, and composing DNA. In some cancer patients, retaining nitrogen supplies though glutamine supplementation led to less infection and shorter stays in the hospital.

After Intense Exercise Glutamine is Reduced

As previously mentioned, glutamine is most commonly used by bodybuilders. Glutamine stores can easily be depleted in athletes as exercise puts stress on the body. Instead of building muscle, heavy weight lifting can cause protein breakdown so the body can access more glutamine.

Supplementing a workout regime with glutamine prevents muscle decay so athletes can see more muscular gain. As an added bonus, a glutamine supplement can reduce recovery times and can even aid in weight loss. This makes it particularly useful for those doing a cut, as glutamine helps people maintain muscle while losing fat.

Glutamine May Reduce Negative Symptoms of Stress

Glutamine does not only counteract physical stress but can reduce mental stress and anxiety as well. The amino acid works by providing energy to cells to help provide peace of mind, increased focus, and better sleep. This, in turn, can lead to a calmed psyche and less stress.

Glutamine Can Protect The Liver And The Heart

The food we consume can lead to fat buildup in the liver and heart which can cause complications. Glutamine decreases the amount of fat absorbed by the liver and has been shown to significantly reduce fat stores in the livers of mice.

The amino acid also has benefits to patients undergoing heart surgery, as those who take glutamine supplements typically have less injury and complication.

Issues With Glutamine Absorption

Glutamine is pretty easy to take and is available in both pill and powder form. However, doses of glutamine need to be fairly high when taken as a supplement in order to increase stores of the amino acid in the body. The bioavailability, or amount of glutamine that actually gets absorbed by the body, is around 30 percent of total consumption. Taking at least 20 to 30 grams per day is recommended during times of bodily stress to ensure enough glutamine is absorbed.

When To Take Glutamine For Maximum Efficiency

Many athletes choose to take glutamine right before or during exercise to support hydration and electrolyte transportation. Some recommend taking 10 grams of glutamine three times—before, during, and after a workout.

Glutamine can be taken before bed, first thing in the morning, or around a workout and will be highly effective at all of these times. It should be taken with food or a snack to reduce the risk of an upset stomach.

What Are Glutamine’s Side Effects?

Glutamine does not cause many adverse side effects in most individuals. Those that do experience side effects generally report mild ones, such as nausea, stomach pain, gas, inflammation, headache or dizziness, mild rash, or increased sweating. Again, these side effects are uncommon and usually subside after using a glutamine supplement for a few weeks. Occasionally, glutamine can cause more extreme side effects.

Glutamine Could Worsen Cirrhosis And Other Liver Problems

Very high levels of glutamine have been associated with acute and chronic liver failure and may worsen conditions such as Cirrhosis. While more research is needed to determine if glutamine is a contributor to liver failure or just a sign of potential complications, it is best not to take glutamine supplement if you have a history of liver disease.

Glutamine Could Worsen Seizures

Glutamine has been shown to cause recurrent seizures in studies on lab rats. While this data has not been translated to humans, it may be smart to avoid supplementation if you are prone to seizures or have conditions like epilepsy.

Avoid Glutamine If You Have Mania

Glutamine can be mildly sedative in some individuals. Since it can adjust the way people feel, it is not recommended for use in those with mania, bipolar disorder, or depression.

Avoid Glutamine If You Are Sensitive to MSG

While glutamine does not contain MSG, those sensitive to MSG report adverse reactions to taking glutamine supplements. It may be best to avoid supplementation for those who have issues with MSG.

What Are The Best Glutamine Supplements?


There are tons of options when it comes to purchasing glutamine supplements. Pills and powders can be found online, in health and nutrition stores, and in some mass market retailers.

NOW Sports L-Glutamine Powder is Amazon’s Best Seller

The NOW Sports brand of glutamine powder is a top seller on Amazon and boasts nearly a thousand customer reviews. The powder has a 4.5-star rating and is available in several sizes. A six-ounce tub is a good option for those who have never tried glutamine, while a two-pound option provides a nice choice for those who want to purchase glutamine powder in bulk.

Optimum Nutrition Glutamine Powder

Optimum Nutrition’s glutamine powder is another customer favorite with over 1,000 reviews and a 4.5-star rating on Amazon. This company offers smaller tubs of powder at a higher price point, but their supplements are also available in pill form.

Body Fortress Glutamine Powder

Body Fortress glutamine powder is also available on Amazon. This supplement is on the cheaper end of the spectrum and is an affordable introduction to glutamine supplementation.

Where Can You Buy Glutamine

As has been demonstrated, glutamine is readily available from multiple avenues. Order online if you know which brand of supplement you’d like to try, or talk to a person at a supplement store to figure out what will work best for you.

The Proper Glutamine Dosage

Since not all glutamine consumed can be absorbed by the body, high doses are usually recommended. Take 20 or 30 grams of glutamine daily for best results. The supplement does not need to be consumed in one sitting, so smaller servings can be taken throughout the day.
Try taking five to ten grams of glutamine at a time if you experience any side effects or sensitivity to the product.

Final Thoughts on Glutamine

Glutamine offers many potential benefits for a variety of illnesses, irritations, and injuries. It is also loved by bodybuilders to help muscular healing and prevent any protein breakdown within the muscular system. Glutamine supplementation can be a great option for athletes and ill individuals alike.

While glutamine can cause some side effects, it is generally well tolerated by most individuals. With a wide variety of supplement options and easy availability, glutamine is one of the most feasible ways to boost your supplement stash or broaden your medicine cabinet.