Glutamine amino acid is important for many body functions. It is one of the 20 building blocks (or amino acids) your body uses to produce proteins. It’s also a vital part of your immune system.
You should know about this amazing amino acid. That’s why we want to talk about the glutamine amino acid structure, properties, and health benefits. In essence, its structure and properties are responsible for its health benefits.
If you think that you have heard everything glutamine can do in your body, there’s more. This amino plays a vital role in gut health. It also has many other health benefits that we will discuss later.
Your body can produce L-glutamine naturally. No amino is as abundant as glutamine in your body fluids and blood. But this notwithstanding, your body might need glutamine from external sources when you are ill, or excessively stressed.
In the above conditions, your body needs more glutamine than it can produce. That’s why experts call it a conditional amino. It means that in conditions of stress, illness, or injury, you might need to get glutamine from your diet or dietary supplements.
You can find glutamine naturally in various foods. A typical western diet should give you about 3-6g glutamine daily. But then, the amount can vary depending on the things you eat.
The best dietary sources of glutamine are animal products because they are rich in protein. However, you can find good amounts of glutamine in some plant foods too.
In this article, we will explain what you need to know about glutamine. We will also talk about its health benefits.
Glutamine Amino Acid Structure and Properties
Generally, all aminos share a similar structure. They all have a central carbon. There are usually 4 groups attached to this central carbon. They are hydrogen, amino, and carboxyl groups, as well as a special side chain.
The components of all the 20 amino acids are the same except for the special side chain. This site is specific for each amino, and it’s what distinguishes each amino from all others.
The glutamine structure contains a simple NH2 (amide) side chain. It has a linear molecular structure and is polar (or water-soluble) in nature. Glutamine, like all other polar molecules, is both negatively and positively charged.
Like many other aminos, glutamine exists in 2 different forms. These include the more common L-glutamine and the less common D-glutamine. These 2 forms are identical except for the fact that their molecular arrangements are slightly different.
The glutamine form present in supplements and foods is L-glutamine. But some supplements list it simply as glutamine. This form, L-glutamine is the one your body uses. Its central carbon has an L (or left-oriented) configuration. D-glutamine is generally unimportant for men and other living organisms.
The symbols for glutamine include a 3-letter code and a 1-letter code. The 3-letter code is ‘Gln’ while the 1-letter code is ‘Q’. Its molar mass is 146.1 g/mol. And its structural formula is C5H10N2O3.
Glutamine has a melting point of 185 °C. Its solubility inside water, at 20 °C, is 35 g/L.
Some of the other names for glutamine are as follows:
- Glutamic acid-5-amide
- Glutamic acid amide
- 2-Aminoglutaramic acid
Glutamine Health Benefits
Alternative health practitioners say that L-glutamine has lots of health benefits. These include its use for treating the following conditions:
- Bipolar disorder
- Crohn’s disease
- Irritable bowel
- Ulcerative colitis
- Peptic ulcers
They also say that L-glutamine also helps alleviate some chemotherapy side effects. It can help promote the healing of serious burns due to chemotherapy.
To be honest, there is not enough scientific evidence to back these claims up. Some of them are true to some extent but often exaggerated. However, we have evidence to support L-glutamine as a potent supplement for the following health purposes.
1. Recover from trauma
Severe trauma is among the most well-known uses of L-glutamine use is severe trauma. This amino enhances immune function and stimulates protein synthesis. With these, it primes your body for faster recovery.
You can use glutamine to enhance rapid recovery from surgeries or severe traumas. If you have burns, even if it is severe, glutamine is the best nutrient to get for faster healing and recovery. It improves wound healing.
Glutamine also prevents bacteria from spreading in the wound or from the wound into your bloodstream. If an infection gets into your bloodstream, it could cause death if not properly treated.
2. Better athletic performance
We have some evidence from science showing that L-glutamine has great benefits for athletes. Nutrition journals are filled with studies that back up this claim. Typically, glutamine shortens recovery time after high-intensity exercise.
3. Chemotherapy adverse effects
Chemotherapy is an effective treatment, especially for cancer. But it can have serious side effects. Some studies suggest that glutamine might help alleviate some of these side effects.
Are There Safety Concerns
Remember that glutamine is very abundant in your body naturally. No other amino is as abundant as glutamine. This suggests that it is quite safe. Your body can even tolerate higher doses without causing any serious side effects.
But then, we can’t promise you that long-term unbroken use of this supplement is safe. Experts are still investigating how long it is safe to use glutamine supplements. More so, we know that certain amounts would be toxic, but experts are yet to establish a standard toxic glutamine dosage.
If you are using any anticonvulsant drug, you should not take L-glutamine supplements alongside. The supplement might trigger seizures.
Also, since your liver is the organ that breaks down L-glutamine, long-term use or an overdose can damage your liver. If you have liver disease, especially if it is severe, you should avoid glutamine supplements.
Pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid glutamine supplements too. Experts have not said it’s dangerous, but they have yet to find out if it is safe either.
The glutamine amino acid structure is unique. It also has a unique set of properties. These make it a potent amino supplement for diverse health benefits.