Do I Need Glutimine?

Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid, meaning it can be produced by the body.

Now that the holidays are over, we've had time to look in the mirror. Some of us might not like what we see. Our stress levels, combined with overeating and or drinking, have caused our cortisol levels to fly off the charts. Cortisol is necessary to maintain important processes in times of prolonged stress. Most of its effects are not directly responsible for the initiation of metabolic or circulatory processes, but it is necessary for their full response. Excess cortisol can decrease the utilization of glucose by cells by directly inhibiting glucose transport into the cells. A cortisol excess can also lead to a decrease in insulin sensitivity. Cortisol also reduces the utilization of amino acids for protein formation in muscle cells. A cortisol excess can lead to a progressive loss of protein, muscle weakness and atrophy, and loss of bone mass through increased calcium excretion and less calcium absorption.

That is one of the reasons long-distance runners tend to have skinny physiques. With the amount of stress that runners place on their bodies, they have high levels of free radicals as well as cortisol. Excess cortisol can also adversely affect tendon health. Cortisol causes a redistribution of body fat to occur through an unknown mechanism. Basically, the extremities lose fat and muscle while the trunk and face become fatter. Cortisol is a stress hormone that’s truly the antithesis of testosterone, whereas testosterone supports muscle building, excess cortisol kills it. Besides tearing down muscle tissue and preventing the body from storing carbs as muscle glycogen, cortisol actually lowers testosterone. It also interferes with testosterone’s ability to bind to its receptors within muscle cells and induce an anabolic effect. When testosterone levels drop, not only does it become harder to build muscle and recover, but estrogen tends to have a stronger effect in the body. Estrogen is correlated with water retention, and it also makes shedding bodyfat a lot more difficult.

Now you say "Doc" what does that have to do with L-Glutimine? Glutimine is involved in a variety of metabolic processes.Glutamine works to spare BCAAs, and keeping BCAAs high helps keep cortisol levels from rising. In addition, glutamine pushes water into muscles, and hydrated muscles remain anabolic. Several studies show that supplemental glutamine can help keep cortisol levels in check. Glutamine has recently been reclassified as a conditionally essential amino acid. This means that while the body can make glutamine, however under extreme stress the demand for glutamine exceeds the body's ability to synthesize it. During times of stress, physical, mental, whatever, glutamine reserves are depleted and need to be replenished through supplementation. Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body. Over 61% of skeletal muscle tissue is glutamine. L-glutamine is predominantly synthesized and stored in skeletal muscle. Glutamine is involved in more metabolic processes than any other amino acid.

Glutamine is converted to glucose when more glucose is required by the body as an energy source. It also plays a part in maintaining proper blood glucose levels and the right pH range. It serves as a source of fuel for cells lining the intestines. Without it, these cells waste away. It is also used by white blood cells and is important for immune function. Glutamine assists in maintaining the proper acid/alkaline balance in the body, and is the basis of the building blocks for the synthesis of RNA and DNA. Supplemental l-glutamine can be helpful in the treatment of arthritis, autoimmune diseases, fibrosis, intestinal disorders such as, IBS, ulcerative colitis, peptic ulcers, and connective tissue injuries or diseases. Glutamine is the primary source of energy for the various cells of the immune system, including T cells and macrophages. Strenuous exercise, viral and bacterial infections, trauma, and stress in general cause glutamine depletion that starves the immune cells. Glutamine has been shown to enhance the ability of medications to kill cancerous growths. L-glutamine levels have been found to be decreased in endurance athletes who train too often and at high intensity. Athletes with a strenuous training schedule may be able to reduce the risk of infections by supplementing with L-glutamine. Glutamine is plentiful in both animal and plant protein. Dietary sources of glutamine include plant and animal proteins such as beef, pork and poultry, milk, yogurt, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, raw spinach, raw parsley, and cabbage. Glutamine is found in many foods high in protein, such as fish, meat, beans, and dairy products. Small amounts of free L-glutamine are found in vegetable juices and fermented foods, such as miso and yogurt. Persons sensitive to monosodium glutamate (MSG) may also want to avoid glutamine supplements, since the body can convert glutamine into glutamate.

Cow's milk proteins consist of 6 percent to 9 percent glutamine. Milk protein isolates such as whey and casein may be added to foods to increase their protein and glutamine content. Some glutamine and glutamate found in milk is bound to the fat and is lost in the whey production process. Fermented milk products such as kefir or yogurt can be tasty ways to add dietary glutamine.

Beans, raw spinach, raw parsley and cabbage are good sources of glutamine, however, plant proteins are not as readily digested as animal proteins. Sufficient glutamine may be present, but the body cannot access it. A world health orginization report estimates that bean proteins are 78% digestible, compared to eggs, ranked at 97%. Peanuts and peanut butter rank 94 and 95% respectively. Interestingly, farina had the highest plant protein digestibility at 99%.

The Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center notes the suggested dosage of glutamine can range from 3 g to 30 g daily. It reports "strong evidence" of established safety up to 14 g daily but that higher doses appear safe as well. The University of Michigan Health System notes the following daily dosages used in clinical studies: pre- and post- surgery health: 20gra., athletic performance and post-exercise infection 5g, immediately after working out and 5g two hours later.  The University of Maryland Medical Center does not recommend giving glutamine supplements to children under 10. It notes a dosage of 500 mg three times a day for children 10 and older appears safe. Check with your doctor about whether you should use glutamine and at what dose.

Athletes who take glutamine supplements do so in order to prevent muscle breakdown and to improve immune system functioning. Several clinical studies have found that oral glutamine can decrease the incidence of illness and infection in endurance athletes or athletes involved extreme training regimens. Research has also found that glutamine supplements can help maintain muscle mass by preventing protein breakdown and improving glycogen synthesis thereby increasing muscle glycogen stores. Glutamine is a classified as a nutritional supplement and is not banned by any sport organizations. It can be found in most health food stores in the form of gels or tablets and is often an ingredient in many commercial protein powders. Due to the limited research there are no established guidelines for doses, but somewhere between 5-14g/per.day appears to be safe. So if your training hard, stressing out, or feeling a bit run down it could be your tank is running a little low on glutamine. You might try a little supplementation or change your diet, and see what happens. As always seek the advice of your physician or other health-care professional before taking any supplement containing glutimine.   Good Luck...


                               Have A Great Weekend !!

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