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Glutamate Deficiency

author image Emma Watkins
Emma Watkins writes on finance, fitness and gardening. Her articles and essays have appeared in "Writer's Digest," "The Writer," "From House to Home," "Big Apple Parent" and other online and print venues. Watkins holds a Master of Arts in psychology.
Glutamate Deficiency
A dozen mixed eggs, white and brown sit in a straw basket. Photo Credit Svitlana Senchonok/Hemera/Getty Images

Nerve cells use chemicals called neurotransmitters to communicate. When an impulse reaches the end of a nerve, it releases the neurotransmitter into the gap, called a synapse, between two nerves. The neurotransmitter passes the message from the first nerve across the synapse to the next nerve. Glutamate, or glutamic acid, is a major neurotransmitter. A glutamate deficiency can lead to neurological dysfunction. Glutamate supplements are available. Consult your doctor before taking them.

The Basics

Glutamate is an amino acid your body makes and a nutrient that is also available from certain foods such as mangoes. Amino acids are necessary for protein production. Glutamic acid is the most prevalent excitatory neurotransmitter in the nervous system of mammals. Excitatory, unlike inhibitory, neurotransmitters provoke nerve cells into action. Glutamate is associated with your ability to learn and to memorize.

Glutamate Receptors

Glutamate can only stimulate nerve cells that are genetically designed to react when they come in contact with the neurotransmitter. Those cells have proteins that act as glutamate receivers. Glutamate attaches itself to the receptor cells to activate them.

Glutamate Deficiency

Glutamate deficiency is unusual. When it occurs, it causes symptoms that are also present when you suffer from other health conditions. Consult a doctor for a correct diagnosis and treatment plan and refrain from taking glutamic acid supplements based on a self-diagnosis. Symptoms associated with a low level of this amino acid include insomnia, problems concentrating, mental exhaustion and depleted energy.

Glutamate Food Sources

Your body uses other amino acids as raw material to produce glutamate. You also ingest the nutrient when you eat meats, dairy, eggs and plant foods high in protein, such as soybean products.

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