Glutamine and glutamic acid
The amino acids glutamine and glutamic acid are closely related in a chemical sense. The human body is able to produce L-glutamine itself, from L-glutamic acid through the glutamate ammonium ligase. Considering the numerous metabolic processes glutamine is a part of, it is not surprising that it is the amino acid with the highest concentration in blood plasma, musculature and cerebral and spinal fluid. At 60%, it represents the largest amount of free amino acids in the body.
The demand for glutamine increases with physical and mental stress. Production of this important amino acid, which takes place in the body, often slows down with age and does not generate sufficient amounts. External supplementation is recommended in such cases.
Glutamine regulates the acid-base balance and makes the skin firm
A supply of essential micro nutrients promotes the production of skin cells and slows aging. This is why a balanced diet is the foundation for healthy skin. An unbalanced, unhealthy diet can lead to hyperacidity and the acid-base ratio becoming imbalanced with the consequence that cells and tissues become destroyed.
Glutamine plays a decisive role in keeping a balanced acid-base ratio. Thanks to glutamine, toxic ammonia is separated off in the kidneys and the basic ammonia molecule is connected to acids and is excreted. A further advantage is that bicarbonate which is necessary for the neutralization of acids can be saved.1
A sufficient supply of glutamine is important for firm and supple skin. If not enough glutamine is available, the body takes the necessary protein from muscle mass and converts it to glutamine and energy. This leads to muscle proteins being lost, muscle strands becoming thinner and the skin becoming generally saggy. This is why glutamine has been referred to as an “internal fountain of youth” by scientists.2
Glutamine strengthens the immune system and is essential for hair growth
Glutamine serves as a nitric oxide and carbon supplier and is also an important element for building and maintaining muscles. The amino acids are necessary for nucleotide synthesis, where cells which divide quickly such as those for the immune system and hair follicles are dependent on this energy source.
Glutamine can combat fat storage
Glutamine can be converted to glucose in the kidneys, without effecting glucagon or insulin levels. Glutamine can combat the storage of fat from food by bypassing fat deposition normally caused by insulin.3 This can be helpful when trying to regulate body weight. There are also indications that glutamine can reduce the demand for sugar and alcohol.2
Other functions of glutamine and glutamic acid
During the synthesis from glutamine to glutamic acids, the brain is protected from the toxic effects of ammonia. This protection against the cell toxin prevents impediments to brain functions and improves long and short term memory.
Patients in states of exhaustion and who have cognitive brain dysfunctions often have a glutamic acid deficiency. Anxiety, tension, sleep disorders and insomnia and a lack of concentration are all connected to this. Glutamine increases the production of the gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA). GABA is an important neurotransmitter which acts like a lock keeper to slow down the sodium channels between the nerve cells in the brain and is therefore like a natural tranquilizer. If the body has enough glutamine, it can build GABA which can have positive results such as inner calm and tranquility, also in stressful situations, improved concentration levels and a more peaceful and fulfilling sleep.1
1 Welbourne, T.C. (1995) Increased plasma bicarbonate and growth hormone after an oral glutamine load, The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 61, issue 5, (pp. 1058-1061)
2 Bowtell, J.L., Gelly, K., Jackman, M.L., Patel, A., Simeoni, M. & Rennie, M.J. (1999) Effect of oral glutamine on whole body carbohydrate storage during recovery from exhaustive exercise, Journal of Applied Physiology, Volume 86, issue 6, (pp. 1770-1777)
3 Prada, P.O., Hirabara, S.M., de Souza, C.T., Schenka, A.A., Zecchin,H.G., Vassallo, J., Velloso, L.A., Carneiro, E., Carvalheira, J.B., Curi, R. & Saad, M.J. (2007) L-glutamine supplementation induces insulin resistance in adipose tissue and improves insulin signalling in liver and muscle with diet-induced obesity, Diabetologia, Volume 50, issue 9, (pp. 149-159)