Sports enthusiasts around the world know just how difficult it can be to keep up optimal performance on the long run. Unfortunately, stress and injuries can hinder your progress. The great news is that you can fix this issue by adding glutamine to your diet. Keep reading our article and you’ll learn more about this fantastic substance.
Glutamine is one of the most abundant amino acids found in our body. Its multiple functions are vital to maintain our health, and they include wound repair, strengthening of our immune system and development of muscle endurance.
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 Ranking: The best glutamine supplements on the market
- 3 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about glutamine
- 3.1 What is glutamine exactly?
- 3.2 What are the functions of glutamine?
- 3.3 Can I be glutamine-deficient?
- 3.4 How does glutamine deficiency manifest itself?
- 3.5 How can I increase my glutamine levels?
- 3.6 What foods are rich in glutamine?
- 3.7 For whom are glutamine supplements useful?
- 3.8 What types of glutamine supplements are there?
- 3.9 How should I take my glutamine supplements?
- 3.10 What are the benefits of using glutamine supplements?
- 3.11 What are the side effects of taking glutamine?
- 3.12 What are the contraindications of glutamine supplements?
- 3.13 What is the price of glutamine supplements?
- 3.14 What do scientific studies say about glutamine supplementation?
- 4 Shopping Criteria
- 5 Summary
- Glutamine is one of the most abundant amino acids in the human body.
- Our organism can synthesis glutamine itself under normal circumstances. However, you may need to supplement during stressful processes.
- You will find glutamine useful to increase your athletic performance, to minimise muscle loss, and to enhance the development of your immune system.
Ranking: The best glutamine supplements on the market
We’ve taken the time to learn more about the glutamine supplements available on the Australian market right now. This has led us to create the following ranking, with what we believe are the very best products on Amazon. Here is our selection of safe, affordable and quality glutamine supplements:
No. 1: BSN Glutamine DNA (powder)[amazon box=”B00QEMXZVE” description_items=”0″]
BSN is an American brand with over 15 years of experience in the sports nutrition industry. Their different lines of products are sold in over 90 countries and they have received numerous awards over the last years. This is why it won’t come as much of a surprise to you that this specific glutamine powder is Amazon’s Choice in the category.
This product offers 60 servings of 5 grams of micronised L-glutamine to help your muscles recover after training, reduce muscle wasting and improve the state of your digestive system. This product is unflavoured, and this has been a plus for past customers, who have also praised the overall quality of this supplement.
No. 2: SAN Nutrition L-Glutamine 2000 (capsules)[amazon box=”B01E8EUO1S” description_items=”0″]
This California-based company has true experience in the field of nutritional supplements, with over 20 years in the business. This pack of 100 capsules delivers real bang for your buck, with 50 servings at less than 20 dollars in total. The capsule is made from gelatine and is therefore not suitable for vegan and vegetarian individuals.
The manufacturer recommends taking two capsules twice a day, generally prior to and after exercising. It will help you get a general health boost via a stronger immune system and a better digestion. This supplement is cGMP-certified (current good manufacturing practices). Please note that this product is manufactured in a facility that also processes egg, shellfish, fish, soy, peanuts, tree nuts and milk ingredients.
No. 3: Pure Product Australia Micronised Glutamine (powder)[amazon box=”B07CWP2MY6″ description_items=”0″]
Pure Product Australia will become your brand of choice if you want to consume quality supplements that are made locally. Since 2010, they have been manufacturing top quality supplements and vitamins right here in Australia. Available in 500 grams or 1 kilo, this supplement will help you maintain good glutamine levels, as well as boost your immune system and contribute to healing and recovery.
The manufacturer recommends adding 5 grams of this glutamine powder with cold water or juice before mixing. This supplement is unflavoured. It is gluten and lactose-free, as well as suitable for vegan individuals. However, note that it may contain milk, eggs, wheat, soy or nuts due to its manufacturing facility.
No. 4: Balance Glutamine 1000 (capsules)[amazon box=”B07D9TWH3N” description_items=”0″]
Balance is a sport nutrition brand recognised throughout Australia and New Zealand, with most of its products manufactured in Auckland. They are used by elite athletes and offer outstanding production standards to provide you with the best supplements out there. This pack offers 150 capsules of unflavoured glutamine.
Each capsule contains 1,000 grams of glutamine, and the manufacturer recommends taking one to five caps per day. With this supplement, you’ll be able to increase your nutrient absorption, while strengthening your immune system and getting an energy boost to reach all your goals.
No. 5: Optimum Nutrition Glutamine (powder)[amazon box=”B002DYIZDK” description_items=”0″]
Optimum Nutrition is simply one of the most reputable sports nutrition and supplements brands in the world, with their products available in 70 countries and over 30 years of experience in the business. This means you know you’re opting for top quality when buying this pack of 600 grams of glutamine powder.
It is unflavoured, making it perfect for blending in your shakes and juices, and use is recommended as a post-workout supplement to help you in your muscle recovery. With servings of 5 grams, this product offers up to 120 servings and therefore provides great value for money!
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about glutamine
Glutamine is one of the most popular sports nutrition supplements on the market. The majority of bodybuilders take it on order to gain muscle mass and increase their endurance during training. You should also know that this amino acid is very much used in the field of medicine.
What is glutamine exactly?
Our body cannot synthesise essential amino acids, which must therefore be ingested daily. Unlike them, glutamine is a non-essential amino acid, which means that our organism can create it using other components found in our diet. But don’t be fooled: non-essential doesn’t mean unimportant.
By binding with other amino acids, glutamine is able to form protein chains that then provide structure to your muscles. For that matter, experts have estimated that 61% of our musculo-skeletal tissue (voluntary muscles) is composed of this amino acid, which has a central role in the growth and repair of body tissues.
This amino acid is also used as a source of energy by the cells of our intestine, liver, kidney, brain, and immune system. Situations that affect any of these systems – such as stress – will lead to an increase in glutamine intake. This is when you may want to get an extra supply of this amino acid through your diet.
What are the functions of glutamine?
Atoms of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen form amino acids. Containing two nitrogen atoms, glutamine acts as a transporter of this substance between the blood and cells. Nitrogen is an essential molecule in tissue regeneration and growth processes.
Glutamine can also cross the hematoencephalic barrier (a protective system that isolates the brain from substances present in our blood). This basically means that it is able to exert its functions on neurones. These are the different functions in which glutamine can intervene:
- Protein synthesis: Glutamine makes up a large part of muscle and bone tissue, making it essential for anabolism (tissue growth process).
- PH regulation: Its ability to release and take in nitrogen molecules gives glutamine a “buffering” ability, protecting the organism from sudden pH variations.
- Energy synthesis: This amino acid is as important for energy production as glucose is. For that matter the cells of your, kidney, brain and immune system use it as their main source of energy.
- Non-toxic transport of ammonia: Ammonia is a nitrogen-rich substance that is toxic to us if it travels freely in our blood. By binding to it, glutamine is able to transport it safely to our kidneys, where it is then removed.
- Neurotransmitter synthesis: Two neurotransmitters can be synthesised through glutamine: glutamate and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). These two compounds are essential for the proper functioning of our brain.
Remember that these are just some of the functions of glutamine. Recent studies have also linked the amino acid to antioxidant synthesis, insulin sensitivity, and regulation of intestinal permeability. This substance is indeed indispensable to maintain a healthy balance in your everyday life.
Can I be glutamine-deficient?
Experts are divided over the fact that glutamine is categorised as a non-essential amino acid. Situations such as stress (physical or emotional), injuries, illnesses or malnutrition can increase your body’s demand in glutamine, or decrease its synthesis. These are the cases when directly supplementing with this amino acid is most useful.
Individuals with very active lifestyles are the most at risk of glutamine deficiency. Certain studies, for instance, have reported a significant drop in blood glutamine levels after an hour of intense exercise. While this is normal, this lack may become an issue if any of the following factors also come into play:
- Diseases: These can be mild (colds, flu, gastroenteritis) or severe (cancer). Chronic pathologies such as Crohn’s disease particularly favour the loss of glutamine.
- Allergies: Any state that leads to a generalised inflammation will contribute to a higher glutamine consumption to synthesise immune cells and components of the inflammatory response.
- Injuries: Glutamine is necessary to heal wounds and injuries. You will have increased glutamine needs to cope with lesions, burns and fractures.
- Psychological stress: A psychologically stressful situation (such as the preparation of exams) will generate an increased expenditure of glutamine to create neurotransmitters.
- Poor nutrition: “Magic” diets can become too restrictive, leading to an insufficient intake of amino acids. Individuals combining intense exercise and a nutrient-poor diet are at high risks of glutamine deficiency.
- High intensity exercise: Elite athletes and fitness lovers have an increased need for glutamine. Their constantly growing muscles demand more energy than that of the average person.
How does glutamine deficiency manifest itself?
Standard blood glutamine levels are around 600 ɥmol/L. Unwanted symptoms (such as fatigue) will begin to appear when you fall below this value. Levels below 200 ɥmol/L are a sign of a serious illness. You should monitor your glutamine levels if you have any of the following:
- High frequency of infections: Glutamine is necessary to maintain your immune system in top form. This deficiency will lead to a higher prevalence of all types of infections.
- Gastrointestinal problems: Intestinal cells use glutamine for nutrition, growth and development. Your digestion and nutrient absorption capacity will be affected if you lack this amino acid.
- Fatigue: If your glutamine levels are too low, muscles won’t be able to transform it into energy. Your muscle endurance will therefore decrease, and you’ll be more at risk of feeling fatigue after training.
- Loss of muscle mass: Remember that 60% of your muscle tissue is glutamine. When you have insufficient levels, your body will “break” muscle fibres to obtain glutamine, therefore decreasing your muscle mass.
- Weight loss: The loss of muscle mass, combined with malabsorption of food, will result in unhealthy weight loss.
- Poor wound healing processes: In the absence of glutamine, it is more difficult for your cells to replicate, which in turn prevents proper wound healing.
Glutamine deficiency has also been associated with two particularly unpleasant conditions. First of all, the overtraining syndrome (OTS) is a decline in sports performance linked to fatigue, irritability and loss of muscle mass that occurs in individuals whose training intensity is too high.
Secondly, we have the “leaky gut syndrome”. This condition means that your intestinal cells allow toxic molecules, microorganisms and undigested food particles to pass into your blood. This leads to a state of chronic inflammation, accompanied with swelling, abdominal discomfort and weight loss.
How can I increase my glutamine levels?
People who have sedentary lifestyles can easily increase their glutamine levels by following a healthy diet, rich both in nutrients and antioxidants. On the other hand, diets that are too restrictive or too high in fat will decrease the available glutamine, which your organism will use to detoxify itself of these substances.
If you have an active lifestyle or are an athlete, there are other factors you’ll have to pay attention to apart from your diet. Avoiding mental and emotional stress, lack of sleep and overtraining will help you maintain your glutamine levels within normal ranges. Adding a glutamine supplement to your diet may become useful for you in such conditions.
What foods are rich in glutamine?
Glutamine is abundant in foods of animal origin, such as meat (preferably lean), eggs and dairy products. You can also find this nutrient in certain fruits, vegetables, legumes, and soy derivatives.
Here are some of these glutamine-rich foods:
- Meat: Veal, pork, fish and poultry
- Dairy: Milk, cheese and yogurt
- Vegetables: Eggplants, cabbage, spinach and carrots
- Fruits: Papaya, beans and miso (fermented soybeans)
- Others: Tofu
Bear in mind that the glutamine found in these foods is broken down when cooked, which means that your organism cannot absorb it as efficiently. It is therefore recommended to eat these foods raw, cured or smoked if you want to increase your intake. A healthy diet generally provides approximately 3-6 grams/day of this amino acid.
For whom are glutamine supplements useful?
Athletes or people who lead physically and mentally demanding lifestyles – subject to work stress, academic stress or caring for dependent individuals – will all particularly benefit from supplementing with this amino acid. This is even more true for people who are also subjected to the following stressful situations:
- Diseases (infections and chronic pathologies)
- Digestive problems (diarrhea, malabsorption, abdominal swelling)
- Injuries and wounds
- Stressful processes (legal matters, divorce, separation)
- Aggressive diets (lean muscle diet, intermittent fasting)
Elite athletes and individuals with busy lives may suffer from glutamine deficiency during specific periods in their lives.
What types of glutamine supplements are there?
You must know that this amino acid has a very low absorption. The enterocytes (intestinal cells) and white blood cells of the intestinal tract consume most of this molecule, which means that you should opt for a supplement that facilitates the absorption of glutamine. There are two different types:
- L-glutamine supplements: This is the active form of glutamine (unlike D-glutamine, an inactive compound that isn’t used in nutrition). This molecule comes in the form of powder, tablet or capsule. It loses its effect if added to other foods (such as protein bars).
- Glutamine peptides: While these supplements are harder to absorb than L-glutamine, they are more stable and can be slipped in your bars and processed drinks. These peptides may appear as “L-alanyl-L-glutamine” or “glycyl-L-glutamine” on the ingredient list of certain supplements.
L-glutamine is the most bioavailable form, which means that it is more easily absorbed by our organism. However, it may be more convenient for you to take your supplement with your protein bars or ready-to-drink beverages. In that case, we strongly encourage you to opt for a product that has glutamine peptides as one of their main ingredients.
How should I take my glutamine supplements?
These types of supplements have been used for years, both in the field of health and in the field of sports. Leaving aside the glutamine used in medical practice (diets of individuals with burns, cancer or HIV), there are three different ways of taking glutamine:
|L-glutamine (“free” glutamine)||5-10 grams one or two hours before meals. Preferably in the morning or before training.||Easy digestion. It can be combined with drinks rich in electrolytes (sodium and potassium) to increase absorption.||Poor bioavailability (30%). It loses effectiveness when mixed with hot liquids or acids (juice). Foods reduce its absorption.|
|Glutamine peptides (non-free glutamine)||10 grams throughout the day, with meals or after training.||Convenient: it can be taken with meals. It is easily carried in the form of bars or shakes.||Very poor bioavailability (20%). A higher dose is necessary to ensure effective absorption.|
|L-glutamine + glutamine peptides||5-10 grams of L-glutamine and glutamine peptides in total, taking into account the characteristics of each product. Divide into different doses throughout the day.||L-glutamine is easier to digest and absorb before training. Glutamine peptides can be taken after training and with meals. Adaptable supplementation at any time of the day.||It can be difficult to evaluate the total dose of glutamine ingested. Less affordable on the long run (you have to buy two supplements).|
The type of supplementation you decide to go for will be affected by your personal preferences, your schedule and your budget. Know that all have proven helpful in improving athletic performance and alleviating gastrointestinal discomfort. This is why you have the liberty to choose the type of supplementation that best suits you.
What are the benefits of using glutamine supplements?
While the majority of people see glutamine supplements exclusively as a way to gain muscle mass, this isn’t entirely true. The muscle gain associated with glutamine intake is actually indirect: a sufficient intake of this amino acid ensures that your muscle isn’t destroyed to feed other cells.
The reality is that the potential of glutamine lies in its long-term consumption. People who use glutamine as a supplement claim to benefit from an improvement in their physical, intellectual and mental state. The following list will introduce you to the actual benefits that supplementation with this amino acid can offer you:
- Reduction of inflammation: Glutamine allows intestinal cells to create an effective barrier against toxins found in the digestive tract. The intensity of allergic reactions and inflammatory processes is therefore reduced.
- Improvement of bowel transit: Healthy enterocytes can absorb necessary nutrients and discard unnecessary ones. This will result in an improvement in intestinal discomfort, gas and abdominal swelling.
- Ulcer repair: Certain studies have found evidence that glutamine supplementation is associated with faster healing of gastric ulcers.
- Mood improvement: Did you know that up to 80% of neurotransmitters are produced in intestinal cells? Bu consuming glutamine, you allow these cells to have enough energy to produce serotonin, an important mood regulator.
- Enhancement of physical performance: An increase in energy reserves will allow you to exercise for longer in the long run. It will also help avoid the overtraining syndrome, meaning you can train at a high enough intensity to increase your muscle mass.
- Strengthened immune system: Stress or strenuous physical exercise ends up weakening the immune system, therefore increasing the possibility of infection. The consumption of glutamine combats this phenomenon, leading to a strengthening of the cells of your immune system.
- Fat loss: This supplement appears to decrease the desire to consume alcohol and sugary foods, contributing to healthy weight loss.
What are the side effects of taking glutamine?
This amino acid is considered safe even at high doses. In the medical field, doses of up to 30 grams per day are used intravenously without major side effects. There have been reports of elevated blood ammonia levels when taking high doses of glutamine, which does not pose a threat to any healthy individuals.
Glutamine intake may lead to bowel discomfort, heartburn and nausea. In that case, it is recommended to divide your supplement dose into smaller doses (of approximately 5 grams) throughout the day, until you reach the desired concentration. Consuming glutamine without sweeteners will further limit these effects.
There are very rare cases where cardiac and vascular alterations related to glutamine consumption have been observed. Certain individuals diagnosed with joint pathologies suffered a worsening of their joint pain after consuming glutamine. There have also been reports of oedema linked to the intake of this amino acid.
What are the contraindications of glutamine supplements?
As we said earlier, glutamine supplements are considered safe for the healthy population. That being said, people with special health conditions should be very careful when supplementing with this amino acid. Always check with your doctor before purchasing any glutamine supplement if you have any of the following conditions:
- Diabetes: Glutamine is key to glucose generation. People with diabetes may see a rise in blood glucose (blood sugar) after taking this supplement.
- Cirrhosis: An unhealthy liver may not be able to metabolise the ammonia generated after glutamine intake.
- Bipolar disorder: In some cases, consumption of glutamine has been shown to destabilise the mood of individuals with this psychiatric disorder.
- Pregnancy and lactation: There are not enough data to say that glutamine is safe for the foetus or infant. This is why it is recommended to avoid this supplement during pregnancy and lactation.
- Renal disease: A deterioration of renal insufficiency was observed in elderly people who were given glutamine supplements.
Finally, it is important to briefly discuss a very controversial issue surrounding glutamine: some have claimed that this supplement could fight cancer. It is true that some doctors administer glutamine to alleviate the malnutrition that typically occurs during tumour processes and chemotherapy treatment.
— Aubrey Jarman, RD (@AubreyJarmanRD) May 22, 2019
However, other experts have found evidence that this nutrient acts as an extra source of nutrition and energy for tumour cells, boosting their growth. We advise you to check with a health professional before making decisions that can drastically affect your health.
What is the price of glutamine supplements?
Luckily for us, glutamine is a compound that is easy to extract and produce. This means that its price is very affordable, and will mostly vary based on the reputation of the manufacturer. Prices tend to fall between 10 and 30 dollars, depending naturally on the quantity and form of administration. That being said, keep in mind that began products tend to come at a slightly higher cost.
You should also remember that glutamine is often added to other food supplements, such as BCAAs (branched amino acids), electrolytes, minerals and vitamins. This will obviously lead to an exponential increase in the product’s price. Your best bet for a budget-friendly purchase is to stick with supplements that only contain glutamine.
What do scientific studies say about glutamine supplementation?
We’ve been talking to you about the benefits of glutamine as a supplement to improve your health and quality of life. But you’re probably wondering if there is scientific evidence to corroborate these positive facts. On the one hand, data exists to confirm the usefulness of glutamine in serious pathologies (such as deep burns or HIV).
Unfortunately, there is no objective information to affirm that glutamine is an efficient food supplement. This amino acid has gained popularity as a sports supplement due to the good results obtained by fitness lovers, but no scientific evidence can back up these data.
|Proven efficacy in severe diseases.||Latest studies (2018) find no significant increase in sports performance or muscle mass gain.|
|Useful for weight loss.||Less effective for weight loss than other supplements (such as L-carnitine).|
|Safe supplement, even at high doses.||It can increase blood glucose and ammonia levels.|
|Cheap and readily available supplement.||Similar supplements exist with proven clinical benefits (such as creatine).|
|Consumers report an improvement in their overall long-term condition.||These subjective benefits cannot be scientifically proven.|
In the end, using a glutamine supplement is your personal decision. This substance has been used by elite athletes for decades with good results. While no benefits of using this supplement have been found for healthy individuals, it does seem to improve the health of people who suffer from glutamine deficiency.
Supplements used in sports nutrition tend to have eye-catching labels that lack objectivity, and this can make your purchasing decision a real challenge. In the following section, we’ve detailed the most important factors to consider when choosing your glutamine, which will help you finding the most appropriate product for your needs:
- Allergies and intolerances
- Pharmacological interactions
- Vegan or vegetarian diet
- Combination with other supplements
- Value for money
- Form of administration and dose
Allergies and intolerances
You must be aware that glutamine supplements are often manufactured in locations that handle nuts, animal products, lactose and gluten. If you are intolerant to any of the above, make sure the brand you opt for uses neutral glutamine, preferably in powder form and with high purity.
On the other hand, if you want to supplement with glutamine to improve a gastrointestinal condition like peptic ulcers, it is recommended to choose products that are free of sweeteners. It has been proven that these compounds negatively affect the intestinal flora, harming your gastrointestinal health.
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Glutamine is a supplement with few drug interactions. That being said, it will affect the function of medicines that lower ammonia (lactulose) levels, chemotherapy treatments, and anti-epileptic medication. Always discuss with your doctor if you are taking any of the treatments mentioned above.
Vegan or vegetarian diet
You can find vegan supplementation brands that produce glutamine free from animal products on the Australian market. While powder remains the safest option, many products are packaged in vegan-friendly capsules, so you can choose the form that best suits you. In that case, don’t forget to look for the vegan seal of quality on the packaging!
Combination with other supplements
While glutamine is best absorbed separately, it is increasingly rare to find this amino acid alone in a supplement. Manufacturers tend to prefer combining it with other nutritional supplements. The following list shows you the additional compounds that are most often found with glutamine:
- BCAA: Branched chain amino acids, together with glutamine, contribute to muscle maintenance and the subjective reduction of post-training fatigue.
- Alpha-ketoglutarate: This compound appears to reduce the degradation of glutamine, increasing the effectiveness of the supplement. It also contributes to antioxidant synthesis.
- Citrulline: When associated with glutamine, this nutrient stimulates the production of nitric oxide, a vasodilator that increases the arrival of oxygen to the muscle, contributing to the recovery and growth of muscle fibre.
- N-acetylglucosamine: This compound increases the effectiveness of glutamine supplements while preventing the increase in blood glucose that is often a consequence of glutamine supplementation.
Value for money
Most manufacturers recommend taking low doses of glutamine to avoid the intestinal discomfort that can be caused by ingesting this substance.
However, remember that the beneficial effects of glutamine appear after using relatively high doses (10-15 grams of glutamine).
It is therefore recommended to opt for products that contain high concentrations of glutamine. You can find savings packs that offer large quantities of the amino acid at a more affordable price, so you’ll be sure to have enough supplements for months to come. In that case, it is important that you keep in mind the expiry date not to lose sight of the expiry date of the product so that none goes to waste.
Form of administration and dose
As mentioned earlier, glutamine is available in powder or tablet form. The latter are a clean and convenient option, but you may end up taking ten or more caps a day if you supplement in very high doses. If this is your case, we strongly encourage you to go for glutamine powder, which will be much easier to dose.
Glutamine is one of the most important amino acids for our body: it makes up our muscles and is used as fuel for enterocytes, neurones and lymphocytes. Stress and disease can affect our glutamine reserves, leading to loss of muscle mass and abdominal discomfort.
This amino acid can help you stay strong in the toughest of times. If you are a self-demanding individual, who strives to respond to the demands of a stressful life without overlooking your health, glutamine may just become your best ally. Now you know that it is much more than a simple bodybuilding supplement!
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