Glutamine is an amino acid or building block for protein. It is a non-essential amino acid, which means the body is able to synthesize it. However, glutamine is found in many foods including beef, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, dairy products, wheat, cabbage, beets, beans and spinach.
Glutamine can be purchased as a supplement and serves a variety of functions in supporting the immune, digestive and nervous system. As a dietary supplement, glutamine can help replenish low levels due to injuries, diseases and prolonged stress. It is also an important amino acid in a variety of metabolic processes. It helps regulate the body’s pH, required for the proper functioning of cells. It is also thought to help regulate blood glucose levels.
Along with the potential benefits, glutamine also has some associated side effects. As such, you should always consult your GP prior to taking Glutamine supplements.
In an athletic population, researchers have investigated the effect of glutamine on the immunosuppression that occurs after strenuous exercise. There have also been studies that have investigated the effects of short- and long-term glutamine supplementation on exercise performance.
It is also possible that low levels of glutamine following exercise can compromise immune function and infections are more likely. Athletes who have suffered overtraining syndrome, through reduced glutamine levels, have reported increased occurrences of infections. Studies have shown that the supplementation of 5 g of glutamine immediately and two hours after prolonged exercise decreased the occurrence of infection reported during the following week. Nevertheless, research into the athletic applications of glutamine is unclear which calls into question the efficacy of supplementation.
Glutamine supplementation to support the immune system has received little support from scientific studies in a healthy population who eat a well-balanced diet.