Supplements: Glutamine

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Glutamine is an amino acid, one of the building blocks from which protein is made. Glutamine is found in plant and animal sources, as well as in supplement form. It helps the body maintain a healthy pH balance and is necessary for making and repairing cells. As the most plentiful free amino acid in muscle tissue, glutamine plays an important role in all parts of the body. It speeds recovery and healing, helps curb cravings, and can improve mental acuity.


Glutamine helps relieve the following health problems.

Food cravings Alcoholism Problems with brain activity and mental functions Digestive tract problems, including ulcers, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and leaky gut syndrome Wounds, including those caused by surgery and leg ulcers (helps wounds heal faster) Autoimmune diseases Connective tissue diseases Arthritis Fibrosis The muscle wasting caused by conditions such as AIDS and cancer Damage caused by radiation therapy Developmental disabilities Schizophrenia Epilepsy Fatigue Impotence Stress

Dietary Sources

Foods that contain a significant amount of glutamine include plant and animal protein foods, such as meats, milk, soy proteins, raw spinach, raw parsley, and cabbage. Cooking can destroy glutamine, especially in vegetables.

Other Forms

Glutamine is available in some multivitamin complexes, protein supplements, and individual supplements. You can purchase it at most pharmacies and health food stores in the form of powders, capsules, tablets, or liquid.

Standard preparations are available in 500 mg tablets or capsules.

How to Take It

It is best to take glutamine for conditions such as peptic ulcers, arthritis, Crohn's disease, and impotence. You should consult your health care provider for many of the medical conditions that glutamine can help. Your health care provider can help you determine how much glutamine you should take and what other nutrients you should take with glutamine to help it work better.

Although your body normally has enough glutamine, it gets used up by extreme stress caused by surgery, disease, or a long illness, or even by vigorous exercise. When the body's own stores of glutamine run short, supplements or dietary sources of glutamine can help restore the balance and help you recover faster.

There is no recommended dietary requirement (RDA) yet for glutamine, so check with your health care provider to find out how much you need. He or she will probably recommend that you take between 500 to 1,500 mg a day, depending on what condition you have, what other medications you're taking, and other factors specific to you.

As with all medicines and supplements, check with your health care provider before giving glutamine supplements to a child.


People who have Reye's syndrome, kidney disease, cirrhosis of the liver, or other illnesses that cause ammonia to build up in the blood should not take glutamine.

Possible Interactions

Glutamine works best when taken on an empty stomach before breakfast or between meals. Glutamine may work better if you take it with vitamins A, C, and E, and zinc, depending on your illness. You should not take glutamine with milk or other protein foods, for example, meat, fish, and beans. Deficiency may result from prolonged illness or extreme stress.

For more information about glutamine, consult your health care provider.

This document contains information relating to general principles of medical care that should not in any event be construed as specific instructions for individual patients. The reader is advised to check product information (including package inserts) for changes and new information regarding dosage, precautions, and contraindications before administering any drug. No claim or endorsements are made for any drug or compound currently in investigative use. No responsibility is assumed by the publisher for any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or otherwise, or from any use or operation of any methods, products, instructions, or ideas contained in any material herein.

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Previously Published in OSA Today Reproduced by permission

Updated on: 02/01/10