The Best Glutamine Supplements in 2016
Supplements are a dime a dozen and come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Initially meant to address nutrition deficiency in individuals, supplement consumption has evolved into something that improves the body’s overall functions. One popular supplement is glutamine, an amino acid that improves muscle recovery and growth. This article will discuss what glutamine is, its benefits for the body, the ideal glutamine dosage, the best glutamine supplement that we take, and when the best time to take glutamine is.
What is Glutamine?
Glutamine, made from glutamic acid, is the most abundant amino acid in your skeletal muscles, amounting to 61%, and the remaining 39% are distributed among your lungs, stomach, brain, and liver. Glutamine facilitates nitrogen metabolism, fueling intestinal cells, supports protein synthesis, and serves as a substrate for the cellular immune response.
The kidneys are the primary consumer of glutamine because the kidneys are where ammonia from the glutamine is removed to maintain the body’s acid-base balance. It goes without saying that as the body’s acidity increases, in response to intense training or a diet high in protein, so does the renal uptake of glutamine.
The reason people take glutamine supplements is due to deficiency especially when it comes to athletes who train regularly. If not supplemented properly, you may start to lose muscle, energy, and have an increased risk of getting infections.
What are the benefits of Glutamine supplements?
Glutamine supplements are there mostly to fill the deficiency in the body caused by external factors such as training. But more than that, glutamine supplements are known to provide the body with all sorts of health benefits. Five of them are the following:
1. Prevents muscle loss
Glutamine levels are greatly depleted during an intense training. This results to a reduction in strength, recovery, and overall stamina. The body takes around 5-6 days to replenish its glutamine stores for some people and for those who are keen on growing muscle, they simply cannot wait that long. When you take Glutamine supplements, not only do you speed up glutamine recovery but you’re also minimizing muscle breakdown and improve protein metabolism. Boosting protein metabolism ensures adequate muscle growth.
2. Heal burn injuries faster
Getting burned is an injury that takes a while to fully heal but taking glutamine supplements might just speed up the process. Research shows that administering glutamine supplements can help accelerate the wound healing process by maintaining cell volume and hydration. It was also concluded that it is most effective during the initial stages of healing.
3. Elevate growth hormones
Growth hormones promotes muscle growth by improving protein synthesis of muscle tissues during muscle recovery or repair. Growth hormones also allows the body to produce more energy by improving fat metabolism and build stronger bones. A study confirms that taking glutamine, even in surprisingly small amounts, increases growth hormone levels in the body.
4. Boost the immune system
Bodybuilding greatly diminishes glutamine levels which also deprives the immune system the energy it needs to react to infections.
Clinical studies have reported fewer incidences of infections which leads to a shorter stay at the hospital by patients. A study has even confirmed this when patients who took glutamine left earlier after bone marrow transplantation than those who didn’t. In critically ill patients, parenteral glutamine decreased nitrogen loss and caused a decline of the mortality rate. Surgical patients who took glutamine evoked an improvement of several immunological parameters.
Glutamine supplements should be taken to not only maintain adequate levels of glutamine in the body but also boost the immune system, which helps prevent possible infections.
5. Cure ulcers
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is the major cause of peptic ulcer diseases. A study was conducted on gerbils where one would receive a glutamine-focused diet while both were given H. pylori-induced ulcer. The control exhibited edema, congestion, and erosion after 3-month infection; and after 2-year infection, they showed cancer-like changes in the gastric lining. Glutamine significantly suppressed these pathological changes caused in the gastric lining by H. pylori infection.
Glutamine dosage would vary from person to person, depending on level of activity and purpose. While bodybuilders would have a glutamine dosage with a lenient time of consumption, the glutamine dosage for those who are taking it for medicinal purposes would vary not just with the actual dose but also as to the frequency of each dose.
Some examples include:
- Dietary supplement – 5 g orally, 3 times per day; 15 g per day
- Short bowel syndrome – Oral: 5 g orally 6 times per day at 2 to 3 hour intervals, with meals or snacks, while awake, for up to 16 weeks
- Sickle Cell Anemia – Adult, 30 g daily for 4 weeks; Pediatric, 600 mg/kg daily for 24 weeks
Best time to take glutamine
As mentioned above, the best time to take glutamine supplements is highly dependent on the need of the individual. But for those looking to build muscle, the experts recommend taking glutamine before or during exercise to support hydration, and electrolyte transport.
They suggest 10 g before, during, and after the workout. On days where you don’t exercise, the best time to take glutamine would be every 2-3 hours at 5 g dosage. It’s to sustain an elevated state of plasma glutamine concentrations. Far less glutamine supplementation is required if in conjunction with BCAAs.
Glutamine and BCAAs
Glutamine supplementation is also effective when combined with BCAAs.
In a nutshell, BCAAs are a group of amino acids composed of Leucine, Valine, and Isoleucine. BCAAs are the major amino acids broken down during muscle synthesis which is the driving force towards muscle growth and therefore, muscle mass.
What does glutamine have to do with BCAAs, you ask? Glutamine levels are naturally depleted during exercise and one of the body’s ways of replenishing glutamine stores is by breaking down BCAAs thru BCAA oxidation. BCAA oxidation leads to muscle catabolism, a process akin to the body eating its own muscles for energy.
Supplementing with both BCAAs and Glutamine should help decrease BCAA oxidation and therefore muscle catabolism.