Glutamine is the most plentiful nonessential amino acid in the body and plays a number of important physiological roles. Glutamine is, no doubt, the mother of all aminos. It is required in mega-quantities to maintain the proper function of your immune system, kidneys, pancreas, gallbladder and liver.
Glutamine is also an essential nitrogen transporter, as well as provides a protein sparing effect during times of very intense training. Glutamine allows ammonia to be removed from areas of the body (your brain and lungs in particular) and deposit into others (your intestines and kidneys). Large amounts of glutamine are used for what is most likely your body's most powerful, most abundant, water-soluble antioxidant, glutathione.
Glutamine is also one of the few amino acids that causes extra growth hormone release; in fact, just a two-gram oral dose of glutamine was shown to cause up to a 430% increase in growth hormone levels.
Immune system suppression is often the result of metabolic stress through injury, illness, or diet (starvation) produce significantly less Glutamine than may be needed for critical bodily processes. An important result of this shortage is that the body breaks down muscle tissue to synthesize the Glutamine it needs for other critical sites. This wastage of skeletal muscle is a major factor in the debilitation of the body and loss of vital energy.
Conjunctively, in the kidney, Glutamine also regulates electrolyte balance and the acid/base balance which affects muscle response. Low reserves result in excessive excretion of calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and a move to acid balance, again with resulting loss of physical energy.
Overall, low levels of Glutamine, may contribute to tissue wasting, susceptibility to disease, and fatigue.
Purpose of Glutamine:
To address the consequences of Glutamine deficiencies L-Glutamine is the single largest pool of an amino acid in the body, it also is among the first to be affected by a deficiency of supply. Because of its unique structure (it has two nitrogen atoms) it is utilized for three functions - a fuel, a new body protein, and to synthesize other important compounds and amino acids. Its presence, or lack of, is critical for the proper function of the body - but in particular, skeletal muscle, the digestive system, the immune system and the brain.
Examples of Glutamine need are:
1. Skeletal Muscle. Glutamine has two nitrogen atoms and uniquely acts as a nitrogen shuttle to protect skeletal muscle mass and maintain a positive nitrogen balance in muscle tissue and is paramount in repairing muscle tissue damaged form high intensity exercise and also those who have suffered burns.
2. Immune System. Through another transamination process, it serves the immune system by providing key ingredient for white cell production while at same time inhibiting excessive cytokine production characteristic of autoimmune disorders. The transconversion to Glutathione makes it a significant component in the body’s own antioxidant arsenal.
3. Digestive System. Glutamine is the main nutrient necessary for intestinal repair. Mucosal cells (enterocytes) utilize Glutamine as their primary energy source for nutrient absorption and for cell regeneration. Low levels will thin the intestinal mucosa and leave it susceptible to bacterial infiltration.
4. Brain. Glutamine is the precursor to inhibitory neurotransmitters (glutamate and GABA), that with decreased levels, is noted with addictions such as alcohol and states such as depression.
Pyridoxine alpha ketoglutarate (PAK) is a combination of Vitamin B-6 and alpha ketoglutarate. In the liver it is converted to pyridoxal phosphate - the biologically active form of B-6. This acts as a coenzyme in the metabolism of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. It is the biological catalyst that provides the enzymatic and energy substrates necessary for effective utilization of L-Glutamine in its many roles.
It is a component for the body's detoxification mechanism, as pyridoxal phosphate it is necessary for the non-oxidative degradation of amino acids through the removal of CO2 and also necessary for the removal of toxic ammonia molecules by combining with glutamic acid to produce Glutamine. Of equal weight, it is also the enzymatic substrate for the metabolic activity of Glutamine in the examples described above.
L-Glutamine is a non essential amino acid. It is synthesized by the body in the liver from the intake of food. Increasingly, its functional role has been recognized as so important that it is now considered essential that sufficient amounts be present, making it the "essential nonessential amino acid".
The two components of PAK work to increase energy production in the mitochondria by increasing the availability of energy substrates through the citric acid (Krebs energy) cycle. PAK also reduces the accumulation of lactic and pyruvic acids which are built up in muscles during strenuous activity, L-Glutamine and PAK are combined in a 3 to 1 ratio to provide a balance of Glutamine with the necessary quantity of biologically active enzymatic and energy substrate activators to achieve a more complete and robust utilization of its components.
By effectively supplying the necessary nutritional support to address the consequences of diminished Glutamine levels, additional energy reserves can be made available for those who are metabolically stressed. The result is a healthy immune system and better health.
Where Does Glutamine Come From?
Your body typically keeps a pretty good supply of glutamine in muscle tissue. Muscle is actually a reservoir of stored glutamine; in fact, over 60% of the free-floating amino acids in every one of your skeletal muscle cells is made up of glutamine.
When the kidneys, pancreas, gallbladder, liver, immune system, and other "glutamine hogs" can't get enough of this vital amino acid through the diet, or by manufacturing it, they rob muscle tissue of glutamine, and when this happens, you basically go into a catabolic state or muscle breakdown.
One reason this happens is because glutamine helps maintain proper cellular hydration or cell volume. Muscle cell volumization refers to the hydration state of a cell, which can help regulate many physiological processes, including protein breakdown and glycogen synthesis.
People who do not maintain muscle cell hydration during training may inhibit protein synthesis, resulting in lesser gains in muscle mass and longer recovery periods between workouts. When muscle glutamine falls, the cell volume decreases, which at that point, you are in a catabolic state.
In addition, glutamine and carbohydrates boost insulin levels, which helps transport more creatine and carbohydrates into the muscle.
For athletes or people who take their workouts seriously, supplemental glutamine is an important fuel for the immune system. There is some indication that the immune system may be weakened in these people that exercise on a regular basis. This may be a symptom of over training, but in times of disease and stress (weight training is stress), certain parts of the body demand so much glutamine that the body can't manufacture enough.
When Should I Take Glutamine?
Glutamine supplementation at certain times of the day, such as right after a workout or right before you go to bed, can help satisfy the body and immune system's hunger for large amounts of glutamine. If you provide the body and the immune system with the glutamine they need, these systems won't have to "call out" the glutamine reserves and thus, preserving glutamine levels in muscle tissue keeping your muscles fuller looking and able to recuperate faster.
How Much Should I Take?
Although scientific studies have not determined the exact amount of glutamine needed to support optimal muscle metabolism, there is no question that glutamine supplementation is important. Precisely how much glutamine is required for an athlete to support optimal muscle metabolism, enhance cell volume, and support the immune system has yet to be determined. However, my guess is that in addition to a diet rich in high-quality protein, athletes could benefit from consuming at least an additional ten grams of glutamine a day.
Here's a tip for you - there is a possibility that loading up on supplements like glutamine, in combination with a potent insulin-releasing carbohydrate for five to seven days, might help increase muscle-cell volume (by supersaturating glutamine stores in muscle cells).
So, if you're just starting out on a glutamine supplement, I would recommend you take four servings a day, in divided doses throughout the day. Be sure to take one dose immediately after training and one right before going to bed.
If you're not already using a glutamine supplement, consider giving it a try - the expert opinion and real-world evidence which support glutamine supplementation are really quite compelling.
I myself have been a fan of glutamine for quite sometime now, my studies in human physiology and organic chemistry showed me the importance of glutamine for the reasons above, so I ensured all Extreme products are heavily loaded with peptide bonded and branch chain linked glutamine.Back to News Articles
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