Glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid, meaning the body is able to produce it, yet it may not always be able to produce enough. During times of injury or stress, supplementing glutamine can promote healing and improve immune function. Glutamine is also used therapeutically for cancer patients, and it can be used medically to help treat ulcers and inflammatory bowel disease. Athletes also use glutamine to help retain muscle tissue. Dosage varies depending upon the intended use.
IBD and Ulcers
Inflammatory bowel disease is an inflammation of all or part of the digestive tract. Glutamine can help to guard mucosa, the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center. Some studies have shown no benefit to using glutamine for IBD. In general, it appears that more research is needed regarding glutamine and inflammatory bowel disease. The "Harvard Gazette" reports that taking extra glutamine could protect against gastric damage caused by H. pylori, the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers. There are no official dosage recommendations for IBD or ulcers although, for adults, UMMC recommends consuming 500 milligrams three times daily for general purposes.
Although some studies have shown no benefit for athletes who supplement glutamine, other sources including UMMC state that glutamine supplementation after intense exercise can boost immune function and help protect against common illnesses. While glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body, levels can drop when your body is in recovery, which may be why athletes supplement glutamine. Although there is no scientific data backing its use for athletic purposes, glutamine remains one of the most popular supplements among bodybuilders and athletes. There is no official dosage recommendation for muscle building, but most manufacturers of the supplement typically recommend 5 grams two or three times per day.
UMMC reports that studies have shown using glutamine along with other nutrients can promote weight gain and increase nutrient absorption in people with HIV and AIDS, though no specific dosage is recommended for this use. Drugs.com cites a study where four weeks of therapy with glutamine at 30 grams per day showed clinical benefits in lowering the oxidative susceptibility of sickle red blood cells. For short bowel syndrome, a condition that prohibits nutrients from being absorbed because a large section of the small intestine is missing or surgically removed, MayoClinic.com recommends 30 grams per day in divided doses for up to 16 weeks.
To avoid potential side effects, start with a small daily dose and increase gradually. Split the recommended dosage up to be taken multiple times per day. UMMC reports that glutamine is likely safe in doses 14 grams or higher per day, however it is recommended to only use doses this high under the supervision of a physician. Always take glutamine with cold or room temperature liquids or foods. Never add glutamine to hot beverages because heat destroys glutamine. Individuals with liver disease, kidney disease or Reye's syndrome should not take glutamine.