Glutamine is an amino acid that is responsible for supporting the function of many of the body's organ systems, including the nervous, immune and digestive systems. Glutamine can be synthesized in the body from glutamate, the compound that is used to produce the flavor-enhancing food additive monosodium glutamate, or MSG. While intake of glutamine and glutamate are not connected in any way to high blood pressure, monosodium glutamate is linked to hypertension and is not recommended for people who are trying to decrease their blood pressure.
Glutamine is found in high concentrations in dairy products like cottage cheese, yogurt and milk; meats like pork and beef; and vegetables like cabbage, parsley and spinach. It is also produced in the lungs by the combination of ammonia with glutamate. While the University of Maryland Medical Center advises that glutamine deficiency is rare except in people suffering from disorders or infections or recovering from surgery, scientific research indicates that supplementing with glutamine may help treat inflammatory bowel disease and increase immune function in serious athletes. As of 2011, no recommended daily allowance has been established for glutamine, but health professionals say between 500mg and 1,500mg is a safe level of intake for adults.
Effect on Blood Pressure
Glutamine's main role in the body centers on regulating cell growth and metabolism, promoting muscle tissue recovery and brain function and acting as an essential pathway for the elimination of ammonia from the body. It is not directly associated with the regulation of blood pressure and high blood pressure is not a symptom of glutamine deficiency. While glutamine supplementation may cause side effects like coughing, difficulty with bowel movements, headache or abdominal pain, clinical studies have not identified an increase in blood pressure as a risk. Additionally there is no reputable research indicating glutamine supplements can help control hypertension.
Glutamine, Glutamate and Monosodium Glutamate
Glutamate, also known as glutamic acid, can be synthesized in the body from oxoglutaric acid and is the precursor molecule for not only glutamine but the essential neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. It is not involved in the regulation of blood pressure. However, when glutamate is combined with a sodium salt, it forms monosodium glutamate, a compound that the National Institutes of Health recommends you should avoid consuming regularly if you have high blood pressure.
Monosodium Glutamate and Blood Pressure
Monosodium glutamate is 12 percent sodium. According to the American Heart Association, people with high blood pressure should strictly limit their sodium intake since consuming large amounts of salt and sodium may contribute to increased blood pressure levels. If you have high blood pressure, health professionals advise that you keep your sodium intake under 2,400mg a day and avoid all products that contain monosodium glutamate.
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Glutamine; Steven D. Ehrlich, N.M.D.; June 2009
- MayoClinic.com; Glutamine (Oral Route); November 2010
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Your Guide to Lowering Blood Pressure; May 2003
- Hammer Nutrition; Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Glutamic Acid (Glutamate), Glutamine Review; Dr. Bill Misner Ph.D.
- MayoClinic.com; Monosodium glutamate (MSG): Is it harmful?; Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.; January 2010
- University of Wisconsin: Sodium