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Supplement Spotlight: Glutamine

Supplement Spotlight: Glutamine


The Supplement Spotlight focuses on taking an in-depth look at a supplement that you’ve probably heard of but might not know a lot about. As always, we’re focused on empowering you in your life to make good decisions and to understand what it is you’re putting in your body. Knowledge is power, after all. This week, we’re looking at Glutamine.


Cheat Sheet

  • Where do I find it?
    • Animal sources: meat and dairy
    • Vegetable sources: lentils, peas, beans, cabbage, spinach, kale, beets
  • What is it?
    • Most abundant free amino acid in the body
    • A conditionally essential amino acid, meaning our bodies produce it and we only need it from outside sources under certain conditions
  • What does it do?
    • Quickens recovery speed after workouts
    • Heightens protein synthesis
    • Boosts immune system functionality
    • Aids muscle breakdown aversion

Glutamine is the single most abundant amino acid in the human body. It is associated with many metabolic processes, including the synthesis and defense of muscle tissue, the manufacture of glycogen and immune support during periods of immune and muscular tension. It serves a critical role in cell volumizing and has potent muscle building effects, encouraging protein synthesis while preventing protein breakdown. Glutamine is in demand throughout the body and is also used in the gut and immune system to maintain optimal performance and health. For the most part, the body produces enough glutamine to accomplish these tasks successfully, but when the body is under certain conditions, like stress, glutamine levels can decrease by up to almost 50 percent.

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It’s important to note here that stress can mean a wide variety of things, from emotional stress to muscular stress that can come from nearly any form of exercise. The shortage of glutamine that may result can then have far reaching implications on parts of the body, from muscle health on down to the integrity of the GI tract.

In addition to bouts of stress diminishing glutamine in the body, research supports that training throughout an extended period of time quickly exhausts both muscle and blood glutamine levels.  If this isn’t reversed, then glutamine is taken straight from the muscle, and for those who are strength athletes, keeping glutamine levels high is especially important. By supplementing glutamine, it’s possible to reduce the amount of muscle breakdown that can occur because other tissues that require glutamine will not rob the glutamine located in the muscle cells.

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