Glutamate and Glutamic Acid: Are They The Same?

Glutamate and Glutamic Acid are very similar yet different substances. Glutamate is consumed when taking in protein because it’s part of protein. Meanwhile, glutamic acid is the name of an amino acid that’s “non-essential” because the body produces the substance.

Modern methods of chemistry analysis

Is there a difference between Glutamate and Glutamic Acid? These substances are very similar but are technically different. In fact, sometimes scientists actually refer to glutamate as “glutamic acid.” You consume the salt glutamate when you eat protein or MSG. Whether you should eat MSG is another story but you’re getting glutamate when you consume it. In the case of glutamate, the “ate” is usually related to the amount of hydrogen in a substance. In fact, there’s actually some crossover between these two substances since glutamic acid is usually in the form of glutamate in the human body. The main difference is one is an amino acid and the other is salt.

Glutamic acid is actually one of the 20 amino acids found in the human body. This is one of the “non-essential” amino acids. Since the body produces it you don’t have to get the amino acid from food and supplements. It’s found in several different animal/plant protein sources. Glutamic acid is involved in the process of turning food into energy and sending signals between the brain and body. This amino acid is found in different foods like chicken, eggs, dairy, and some plants. Sometimes the amino acid is used to treat different conditions like Parkinson’s.

What Is Glutamate?

Glutamate is related to glutamic acid because it’s the salts found in the amino acid. It works as a “neurotransmitter” in the brain that sends signals to the body through nerves.

This is a certain kind of neurotransmitter. It allows nerve cells to send signals to other cells. In fact, this salt is the most important one for the brain to function properly. It has important functions like memory and learning.

The main job of glutamate is to move info that controls brain development and controls the survival of cells. High amounts of glutamate are found in the brain. However, if there’s too much/little of glutamate it can cause health problems. It’s important for the brain to have the right amount for the right amount of time. 

One important thing that glutamate does is to make signals between 2 neurons stronger. This explains why the salt is so important for different brain functions like memory, thinking, and learning.

You can get glutamate through the protein found in different foods like meat, eggs, dairy, and cheese. You can also get it in the flavoring MSG. This activates the salty flavor that people taste. MSG is found in many kinds of foods like Asian foods and gelatin. A natural source of MSG is breast milk.

There’s some debate about the use of MSG. It can help food to be tastier but some researchers claim that it’s addictive. In fact, some people who consume MSG have reported problems like headaches and other symptoms right after eating it.

Meanwhile, the US FDA classifies MSG as safe. Different studies show that although some people might have a sensitivity to MSG it’s not linked to long-term mental issues.

One thing to keep in mind is glutamate can damage the brain’s nerve cells in a few ways. This involves factors like the brain having too much of the salt. 

What Is Glutamic Acid?

This is one of 20 different amino acids found in the human body. It’s classified as “non-essential.” This doesn’t mean it’s not needed. Non-essential amino acids are produced by the human body so it’s not necessary to get them from foods and supplements. Those are known as essential amino acids (EAAs).

Amino acids are known as the “building blocks” of protein. Other amino acids team up to make glutamate in the body. You can get this amino acid from different foods like meat, fish, chicken, eggs, dairy, and some high-protein plants.

Glutamic acid is a type of neurotransmitter that a neuron (nerve cell) produces. This helps to make neurons around it active so signals can pass through the nervous system that includes the brain and spinal cord.

Glutamic acid is sometimes given to people who suffer certain mental disorders like Parkinson’s and epilepsy. Researchers have studied the effects of the amino acid on such patients.

However, many researchers have question marks about whether or not glutamic acid can help to treat such conditions effectively. In part, this is because it’s already one of the most common amino acids in healthy diets.

Researchers have also learned that it’s rare for people to not have enough of this amino acid. This is especially true among people who eat healthy food.

Meanwhile, consuming too much glutamic acid could cause toxic results. It could cause a person to have various side-effects like headaches and other health issues. So, there’s also debate about how effective glutamic acid supplements are.

Meanwhile, some studies show that amino acid could be helpful in some cases. That includes lowering blood pressure.

Studies show that the prostate gland might also benefit from glutamic acid supplements. That’s because the body part makes a fluid that contains the amino acid. A healthy prostate might help the amino acid function better.

side-by-side comparison of Glutamate and Glutamic Acid

Glutamate and Glutamic Acid

What are the differences between these two substances? Here are some issues for a side-by-side comparison of the salt and amino acid:

1. Chemistry

There’s little difference in the chemistry of these two substances. This helps to explain why scientists sometimes refer to glutamate as “glutamic acid” when it’s actually glutamate. They even do this when the acid has dropped some hydrogen.

In some ways, the two substances are the same. For example, that’s in terms of their function on the human body. They’re not quite the same since one is an amino acid and one is a salt. However, in terms of how they function in many ways, they’re basically the same stuff.

2. Uses by body

The human body uses both of these substances for different reasons. Like amino acids, you can use it to get energy for cells.

Meanwhile, your body can use glutamate in different ways. It can help the body get rid of nitrogen. This is a waste product related to turning protein into energy. It can also function as a neurotransmitter, which is a molecule that sends chemical signals between the brain and body. 

3. Uses for food

Glutamate is used in the food industry. In fact, this one of the biggest differences between the salt and the amino acid. Glutamate is able to make a chemical bond to a piece of sodium. It’s worth noting that glutamic acid can’t make this bond.

What does it all mean? You can combine glutamate to make the compound MSG. However, you can’t combine glutamic acid with sodium. You’ve probably heard of MSG, which is a flavoring that’s used for adding flavor to food.

So, there’s some similarities and differences between these two substances. However, the main one is the possible uses in the food of Glutamate and Glutamic Acid.

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