What to Know about L-Glutamine and its Food Sources

Glutamine is an essential amino acid which the body naturally produces. This is produced by the combination of amino acid glutamate and ammonia. However, in certain circumstances like if your body suffers from medical conditions like illness, injury, infections or physical exertion, you may need more glutamine that what you produce. In order to meet this need, our bodies resort to dietary sources as a means to fill up the inefficiency of this substance. Dietary supplements can help provide the body with additional glutamine too. However, it is necessary to seek advice from your doctor first before taking this supplement. If in case you think you need L-glutamine, discover good food sources for the amino acid first.

Where is L-Glutamine Produced?L-Glutamine and its Food Sources

Glutamine is usually produced in the muscles of the body. Almost 90% of the body’s glutamine is made in there and there are more than 60% of glutamine is found in the skeletal muscles. Other organs of the body like the brain and lungs, can also synthesize glutamine but in lesser amounts. The liver on the other hand can help regulate existing levels of glutamine in the body. Other organs that produce L-glutamine in the body but in lesser amounts are the kidneys, blood, and gut lining.

Plant Sources for L-Glutamine

There are sufficient glutamine that we can get from the plants only the body cannot readily access it and one thing more, they are not readily digested unlike animal proteins. According to the World Health Organization, bean proteins are estimated to be 78% digestible as compared to eggs to be 97% digestible. Peanuts rank 94% while peanut butter is 95%. Farina has the highest plant protein digestibility which is 99% while soy protein is 95% digestible and it has 8% glutamine. Plant sources of vitamins are beans, raw parsley, raw spinach and cabbage.

Meat Sources for L-Glutamine

Since most of the glutamine in the human body is found in the skeletal muscle which is either bound in the muscle tissue in the form of protein or found in other cells and fluids as a free amino acid, we expect then that the foods that contain high amounts of glutamine are meat and seafood.  In a 2007 review in the journal “Nutritional and Dietetics,” there is more glutamine in meat than any other amino acid. The authors also mentioned that glutamine rich-meat protein is 94% digestible. Meat sources of glutamine are beef, poultry and pork.

Dairy Products as Sources of L-Glutamine

The cow’s milk protein is said to consist 6-9 percent glutamine while milk protein such as casein and whey can be added to some foods in order to increase their protein and glutamine content. Other glutamine and glutamate that are present in milk is turned into fat and is lost in the whey production process. Yogurt and kefir are two fermented milk products that are tasty ways to add dietary glutamine.

Glutamine versus Glutamate

As the human body produces glutamine with the use of glutamate as an ingredient, eating foods that that are rich in glutamate can help also. Example of this is the Kombu which is a variety of kelp and is known to be rich in glutamate. There are also processed foods that contain glutamic acid known as monosodium glutamate (MSG). They use MSG in mixing with food additives like hydrolyzed vegetable proteins, soy extracts and yeast extracts. However, too much glutamate is believed to be harmful since it is called as excitottoxin. Although it is an important neurotransmitter, there are certain nerve cells that can be stimulated to death through it. It is necessary then to talk with your doctor when using glutamine supplement.

There are various food sources for L-glutamine. It is now up to you to use these sources to supplement your body’s needs for this amino acid.

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