What is glutamine? Why do we need it?
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body; it
is involved in more metabolic processes than any other amino
It can be converted into glucose when the body requires
more glucose as an energy source; it can serve as a source
of fuel for cells that line the intestines; and it can be
used by white blood cells to enhance the bodys immune
Animal studies have shown that glutamine acts as an anti-inflammatory.
Used in conjunction with another substance, N-acetyl cysteine,
glutamine promotes the synthesis of glutathione, an antioxidant
believed to work against HIV infections. Other evidence shows
that intravenous glutamine supplementation can help critically
ill patients survive.
How much glutamine should I take?
Because glutamine is not an essential element, and because
it is produced by the body, no dietary guidelines have been
established. A qualified health care practitioner should be
consulted before taking glutamine supplements.
What are some good sources of glutamine?
What forms are available?
Glutamine is produced by the body. Additional sources include
many high-protein foods such as fish, meat, beans and dairy
products. As a supplement, it is available in capsule, tablet
and powder form.
What can happen if I don't get enough
glutamine? What can happen if I take too much? Are there any
side-effects I should be aware of?
While deficiencies are rare, they can occur in patients who
are critically ill, are fasting, or have severe cases of cirrhosis.
As of this writing, there are no known instances of glutamine
toxicity. Certain medications, such as paclitaxel, and other
chemotherapy drugs, may interact with glutamine. Make sure
to speak with a qualified health care practitioner before
taking glutamine supplements.
- Charland SL, Bartlett DL, Torosian MH.
A significant methotrexate-glutamine pharmacokinetic interaction.
- Griffiths RD. Outcome of critically ill
patients after supplementation with glutamine. Nutrition 1997;13:7524.
- Klimberg VS, Nwokedi E, Hutchins LF, et
al. Glutamine facilitates chemotherapy while reducing toxicity.
JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr 1992;16(6 Suppl):83S87S.
- Robinson MK et al. Glutathione deficiency
and HIV infection. Lancet 1992;339:16034.
- Rubio IT, Cao Y, Hutchins LF, et al. Effect
of glutamine on methotrexate efficacy and toxicity. Ann