Should I Take a Glutamine Supplement?
Glutamine is an amino acid that is produced in the muscles and distributed to organs through the blood stream. It is the most abundant amino acid in the body and assists in the processes of other chemicals and amino acids, such as glucose. Specifically, glutamine is taken by patients that have illnesses, but athletes have been known to use it while recovering from a workout or injury. So, what exactly can glutamine do for you, and is it worth adding to your diet?
Glutamine and Bodybuilding
As bodybuilders train, they are always looking for supplements to enhance their results. The intensity of a workout will require a sufficient amount of nutrients to recover and strengthen. Since glutamine levels are reduced while training, a theory is that a glutamine supplement can improve performance. Typically, if a muscle is depleted of amino acids, it will take glutamine from muscle cells as a form of compensation. When glutamine levels are lowered, a deficiency can occur, having a negative effect on protein metabolism. It would appear that glutamine could add to the refueling of the body after workouts by supplying the needed amino acids to the muscles and minimizing the breakdown of tissues. However, there is insufficient evidence to support the claim that a glutamine supplement will actually boost a bodybuilder’s performance. For the recovery stage, it is recommended that a person replenishes their protein and amino acids through natural foods instead of relying on extra supplementation. Eating a balanced meal with the right nutrients within 30 minutes of a workout can provide a healthier way to rebuild muscles and restore the glutamine levels to normal.
Side Effects and Dosage
In general, glutamine may be relatively safe for most healthy adults to take orally, although the side effects remain largely unknown. Dizziness, confusion, fainting, and headaches have been reported. Coughing, rashes, itching, chills, back pain, stomach pain, irregular heart beat, and shortness of breath are also among the possible side effects associated with glutamine. The amounts of a glutamine supplement should be closely monitored to not exceed 40 grams per day. A lack of information about the effects of glutamine on children causes extra concern. If a child between the ages of 3 and 18 has to take glutamine for a medical reason, they should only be given doses that are less than 0.65 grams per kg of weight per day. Pregnant women are advised to avoid glutamine supplements. People with liver diseases, people that suffer from seizures, and people that have specific mental disorders should also stay away from glutamine supplements for safety reasons. Again, the studies have not been extensive enough to accurately determine the effects of glutamine, so it is better to only use it under a doctor’s care in certain situations. Generally, only people that have or are recovering from particular illnesses or conditions will be prescribed glutamine supplementation. These include swelling or soreness from chemotherapy treatments and HIV patients with intestinal problems. Glutamine can react with a number of other medications and foods. Consult with your doctor and ask for a list of appropriate foods if you are prescribed glutamine.