Peer Reviewed

Road Map of the MindGlutamine is an amino acid found in the muscles. It is also known as brain fuel because it easily passes the blood-brain barrier. Glutamine increases the amount of Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA), another amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system.

Glutamine helps to build and maintain muscle. It may be useful to bodybuilders, people recovering from injury or surgery, and may help to prevent muscle wasting from prolonged bed rest.

This amino acid may help reduce cravings for sugar and alcohol. Glutamine may also benefit epilepsy, fatigue, ulcers, impotence, senility, fatigue, arthritis, scleroderma (an autoimmune disorder that affects blood vessels and connective tissue), and polymyositis (multiple muscle inflammation).

Stress, prolonged illness, strenuous exercise, and surgery may deplete the body's reserves of glutamine.

Sources of Glutamine
Foods, including meat, milk, soy proteins, raw spinach and parsley are sources of glutamine. Cooking destroys glutamine. As a supplement, it is available in some multivitamin formulations, and individually in liquid, tablet/capsule (500-mg), and powder forms.

There is no recommended dietary requirement for glutamine. It is advised to take glutamine on an empty stomach before breakfast or between meals. Combining with zinc, and vitamins A, C, and E may enhance the effects of glutamine. Do not combine with milk or other protein foods.

Guidelines and Cautions
The powdered form of glutamine should be kept dry to prevent it from turning into ammonia.

Do not take glutamine if any of following diseases exists:

  • Reye's syndrome
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Kidney disorder

Do not give glutamine to children without the advice of a medical professional.

Disclaimer: Many people report feeling improvement in their condition and/or general well-being taking dietary, vitamin, mineral, and/or herbal supplements. The Editorial Board of, however, cannot endorse such products since most lack peer-reviewed scientific validation of their claims. In most cases an appropriate diet and a "multiple vitamin" will provide the necessary dietary supplements for most individuals. Prior to taking additional dietary, vitamin, mineral, and/or herbal supplements it is recommended that patients consult with their personal physician to discuss their specific supplement requirements.

Updated on: 03/16/16
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George D. Picetti, III, MD
In reviewing the above supplements several observations were noted. First of all there are no scientific papers that review the efficacy of these supplements in refereed journals. Therefore we are not able to comment on how effective they are on a scientific level. These supplements are not held to the same standards as other medications, and thus the dose and concentration may differ among different brands or companies. Although many people claim to have good results from taking these and other supplements, it is always best to discuss this with your doctor before taking these supplements. If you are taking any supplement and are scheduled for surgery, it is imperative that you tell your surgeon and anesthesiologist. Some of these supplements can cause significant changes in your body’s chemical functions, such as slowing blood clot formation, which can be a serious problem during surgery.
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