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Does the body need glutamine?

Among the supplements available for those wanting to build up muscle mass and cut down body fat there is glutamine. This is a popular name on the market and you'll be able to find plenty of workout supplement brands raving about how it helps you.

What it is

Glutamine is a type of non-essential amino acid, meaning it is naturally produced by the body when you consume protein either through food or a good protein supplement. It is also the free form amino acid found in the highest concentrations in the blood.

Glutamine plays several important roles in the body, including assisting in nitrogen donation during anabolic processes and forming proteins to name just a couple.

Where it comes from

Glutamine is produced by the body itself. 90% of the glutamine produced comes from within the muscles. The rest is produced by the brain, lungs and kidneys. It is made up of a combination of glutamate and ammonia along with an enzyme. It is then used up in the intestines, kidneys and immune cells.

Considering that the body makes up its own glutamine, it is a wonder why anyone would actually purchase glutamine on its own to ingest it. During the last ten to fifteen years, glutamine has been studied intently to find out its full effect and potential health benefits. It has been found to have a

It also becomes an essential amino acid and thus be taken orally via a supplement in cases when individuals have been injured, for example in trauma, illness or burn victims. In these cases, studies have shown the healing power of glutamine to make a significant difference in recovery time. Post-surgery patients are given glutamine as a part of the healing routine as it is known that recovery time decreases, and the time spent after surgery in the hospital can be reduced with the parenteral nutrition plan which includes glutamine.

For Athletes

With all the research proving glutamine to be an important amino acid with a special role in the body, it started being marketed to athletes and bodybuilders as a great supplement. It has been shown to potentially raise the levels of HGH in the body, being released in the pituitary gland. While its role in the body is important, it may not be everyone who needs it.

Since glutamine is produced naturally with the intake of protein, you'd have to wonder; if a person is already getting plenty of protein in food and supplement, is it necessary to take extra glutamine supplements? Many bodybuilders don't believe it to be important for this very reason. Unlike the essential amino acids you can get in a good whey protein, you can be sure the liver is regulating its production and secretion when needed.

Breaking it down mathematically, it is estimated that if participating is steady, heavy workouts one would need 1.8g protein for every 1kg of lean body mass per day. A 90kg male with 10% body fat would then require an estimated 145 grams of protein per day, at the most. If this client were getting significantly less than this, perhaps far less than 100g of protein per day, it could be argued that glutamine supplements could be quite beneficial to him.

According the the other school of thought- where you might lean towards, is that if already consuming enough protein to satisfy the body's needs, there is no reason to purchase and consume more supplements. Taking in more protein than the body is using will not leave the body storing the extras or making more muscle. Extra amino acids and protein are simply excreted. Tracking protein intake is important when supplementing because it is also difficult on the liver to process. Always take protein with plenty of water!

Rather than following the advertising, listen to your body and your own specific needs. Glutamine is a great non-essential amino acid which is continuously used by the body regardless of physical activity level.

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