L-Glutamine - Benefits, Side-Effects, Supplements, Powder - Pg 3

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L-Glutamine - Benefits, Side-Effects, Supplements, Powder - Page 3
by Ivy Greenwell -- reprinted by permission from Bill Faloon of The Life Extension Foundation

Glutamine is a precursor for the synthesis of glutathione and stimulates the formation of heat-shock proteins.  Moreover, there are suggestions that glutamine plays a crucial role in the stimulation of intracellular protein synthesis.  Experimental studies revealed that glutamine deficiency causes a necrotizing enterocolitis -- an inflammation of the small intestine and colon leading to cell death -- increases the mortality of animals subjected to bacterial stress.

A clinical human study involving bone-marrow transplant patients demonstrated, after supplementation with glutamine, a decrease in the incidence of infections side effects and a shortening of hospital stay.  In critically ill patients, parenteral glutamine reduced nitrogen loss and caused a reduction of the mortality rate.  In surgical patients, glutamine evoked an improvement of several immunological parameters.  Moreover, glutamine exerted a nutritional (tropic) effect on the intestinal mucosa, decreased intestinal permeability, and thus may prevent the translocation of bacteria.

Glutamine is an important metabolic substrate of rapidly proliferating cells.  It influences the cellular hydration state (molecular water content) and has multiple effects on the immune system, intestinal function, and protein metabolism.  In several disease states, glutamine may become an indispensable nutritional supplement.  Catabolic wasting patients should consider supplementing with at least 2000 mg of glutamine a day.

Glutamine Users Report More Energy, Less Fatigue, and Better Moods
In the brain, glutamine is a substrate for the production of both excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters (glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid, GABA).  Glutamine is also an important source of energy for the nervous system.  If the brain is not receiving enough glucose, it compensates by increasing glutamine metabolism for energy -- hence, the popular perception of glutamine as "brain food" and its use as a pick-me-up.  Glutamine also plays a part in maintaining proper blood glucose levels and the right pH range.  The body has an exquisite mechanism for maintaining pH homeostasis.  If the pH of the blood is too acidic, more glutamine is directed to the kidneys, where a certain type of glutamine results in the release of bicarbonate ions to correct acidosis.  If the pH is too alkaline, more glutamine is sent to the liver, where a different kind of metabolism releases hydrogen ions to correct the side effect of alkalosis.

And, there is more.  Due to its dependence on sodium transport, glutamine is one of the amino acids that control the volume of water in the cells and the osmotic pressure (osmoregulation) in various tissues.  L-Glutamine also plays a vital part in the control of blood sugar.  It helps prevent hypoglycemia since it is easily converted to glucose when blood sugar is low.  In addition, glutamine regulates the expression of certain genes including those that govern certain protective enzymes and helps regulate the biosynthesis of DNA and RNA.  Recently, it has been discovered that glutamine is important for the cardiovascular system as well.

Thus, to say that glutamine is important for our health is an understatement.  In view of its multiple functions, it is no surprise that l-glutamine is the most abundant free amino acid in the serum, muscle, and cerebrospinal fluid.  It constitutes 50% of all amino acids in the serum and more than 60% of free amino acids within the body.

Glutamine is plentiful in both animal and plant protein.  The typical American diet provides between 3.5 g and 7 g of glutamine -- more is synthesized according to need.  Even so, heavy stress such as strenuous exercise, infectious disease, surgery, burn injury, or other acute trauma leads to glutamine depletion with consequent immune dysfunction, intestinal problems, and muscle wasting.  Consequently, it has been proposed that glutamine should be classified as a "conditionally essential amino acid."  During exceptionally severe stress, supplementing with glutamine (in the hospital setting, doses as high as 20-40 g may be used) can be a matter of life or death.

Benefits for the Liver and the Intestines
People who use glutamine on a consistent basis virtually ensure superior health of their intestinal lining.  They need not worry about "leaky gut syndrome" and all its troublesome side effects, including allergies, the "leaking out" of pathogens, and possibly causing arthritis.  In fact, when it was first discovered, glutamine used to be called "intestinal permeability factor."  It is by far the most important nutrient for intestinal health.

The importance of l-glutamine for the intestines is enormous.  It is the chief source of energy for the cells of the intestinal lining.  Most glutamine in the diet (and most dietary glutamate and aspartate) is metabolized by the intestines, both to serve as intestinal fuel and also to produce glutathione, nitric oxide, polyamines, nucleotides and the amino acids alanine, citrulline and proline, making these available to the rest of the body.  Glutamine also maintains the structural integrity of the intestinal lining, supporting its quick turnover.

Those who use NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) such as ibuprofen and indomethacin may have a special need for supplemental l-glutamine.  Fortunately, sufficient glutamine can undo the damage and side effects caused by NSAIDs by maintaining permeability at a healthy level.  For heavy NSAID users, supplementing with glutamine can spell the difference between healthy gastrointestinal tract versus ulcers and "leaky gut syndrome."

Besides treating "leaky gut syndrome" and ulcers, glutamine can also be used to treat colitis, Crohn's disease, and diarrhea in doses of up to 20 g/day.  The soothing intestinal effect of glutamine taken as powder dissolved in water makes itself known quite soon after ingestion (by the way, the taste is quite pleasant - slightly sweet, so there is no need to mask it with juice).  Even a small dose, such as 2-3 gm, can quickly calm that "queasy" feeling.  In high doses, glutamine also alleviates the devastating damage and side effects to the gastrointestinal tract that results from chemotherapy.

Aids in Early-Stage Cirrhosis
Likewise, glutamine helps protect the liver from the ravages of chemotherapy toxicity.  But, even under normal conditions, l-glutamine is beneficial for the liver since it cleanses the liver of fatty waste products.  Once liver damage is advanced, however, glutamine cannot help since the liver can no longer metabolize it properly.  People who take glutamine tend to have a healthier liver and healthier intestines, and thus better digestion and absorption of nutrients.  That alone should be reason enough to add this super amino to your supplement regimen.  But, this is just the beginning of its benefits and positive side effects.

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