Glutamine: what it is and where does it come from?
Glutamine is an amino acid. It an essential part of the immune system and is one of the building block of protein. In human blood, glutamine is the richest free amino acid. It comes from a protein rich food like beets, carrots, beef, chicken, fish, dairy products, eggs, spinach, parsley, cabbage and also in wheat, papaya, celery, kale and fermented foods. In health and disease, the rate of glutamine consumption by immune cell is more than glucose. Glutamine has a vital role in intestinal health.
Glutamine is the only amino acid capable of readily crossing the barrier between blood and brain. It is non-essential and conditionally essential amino acid in human as well as in animals. Animals can synthesize it from glutamic acid and do not require dietary sources whereas the human body can usually produce enough amount of it. But when the body demand for glutamine, it must be obtained from the diet.
Glutamine is considered as the most abundant amino acid in the animal body because in plasma and body tissue, the glutamine level is 10 to 100 times higher than any other amino acid. Most of the glutamine production occurs in brain, liver, lungs, tissues and skeletal muscles.
Like other amino acid, it has two different types:
They have a slightly different molecular arrangements.
Glutamine plays many functions in body such as:
- Protein synthesis
- Lipid synthesis
- Regulation of acid-base balance
- Cellular energy
- Non-toxic transporter of NH3 in blood circulation
- Carbon donation (citric acid cycle)
It is marketed as a medical food and is prescribed by a medical professional when a person believes to needs supplementary glutamine due to metabolic demands.
Glutamine role in immune system and intestinal health:
An important function of glutamine has played a basic role in the immune system. It is a vital fuel source for immune cells. If a body need glutamine, more than its production a body does so your body may break down protein stores to release more if this amino acid. When a body has insufficient amount of glutamine the function of the immune system can be compromised. For this high glutamine supplements are prescribed after some major injuries. It is also an important source for intestinal health. It creates a barrier between the inside of your intestines and the rest of your body. It prevents harmful toxins moving from the intestines into the rest of your body. Glutamine is important for maintenance and normal growth of cells in the intestine.
Glutamine is naturally produced in the body and also found in many foods. A typical diet may contain 3 to 6 grams per day and this amount could vary based on the types of foods consumed. Some glutamine supplements have widely used and its dosage of around 5 grams per day to approximately 45 grams per day for six weeks. Its addition to the regular diet causes many changes in body ways to absorb and processes amino acids. If someone wants to start these supplements, the best to start with a dose of around 5 grams per day.