L-glutamine is the most common supplemental form of an amino acid called glutamine. You naturally make this amino acid in your body and can also easily obtain it from dietary sources. Most people already get enough daily glutamine and don’t need to take L-glutamine or any other related supplement. However, your doctor may recommend a supplement if you have certain medical conditions or health concerns.
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Under normal circumstances, your body naturally contains more glutamine than it does any other type of amino acid. A significant amount of your internal glutamine supply comes from your lungs, while common storage areas for the amino acid include your lungs and muscle tissue. Dietary glutamine comes from foods that include raw spinach and parsley, milk, yogurt, certain forms of cheese, poultry, beef and pork. L-glutamine supplements are available in 500 mg standalone tablets and capsules, as well as in liquids and powders that can also contain other nutrients.
Reasons for Supplementation
You can develop abnormally low glutamine levels if you experience forms of bodily stress that include infections, physical injuries, burns or other forms of trauma. Other potential sources of glutamine-depleting stress include surgery and heavy exercise. Additional reported uses of glutamine supplements include improvement of symptoms in people with the bowel disorders Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, relief of an intestinal condition called short bowel disorder, treatment of cancer in combination with traditional medical approaches, and improvement of nutrient absorption in people with HIV/AIDS.
Review your plans with your doctor before you use L-glutamine or any other form of supplemental glutamine as a treatment for any condition or disorder. If your doctor thinks you’re a suitable candidate for supplementation, he will tell you how much of the amino acid to take each day. When required, adults doses for glutamine supplements commonly range from 500 to 1,500 mg per day, although a prescribed dosage may range as high as 5,000 to 15,000 mg per day. Children between the ages of 10 and 18 who require glutamine commonly receive 500 to 1,500 mg a day, while children younger than 10 typically only receive glutamine with a doctor’s guidance as part of a more complete amino acid product.
Side Effects and Considerations
Adults with short bowel syndrome commonly receive glutamine powder in divided doses that equal 30,000 mg per day, MayoClinic.com reports. Typically, this level of supplementation only lasts for a maximum of 16 weeks. Avoid all glutamine supplements if you have liver or kidney disease, and don’t give supplements to your child if she has Reye syndrome. Glutamine supplementation can trigger a wide array of side effects. Significant potential effects include dizziness, blood in your urine, fainting, shortness of breath, rapid or shallow breathing, itching, hives, headache, rapid heartbeat, chills, confusion, lightheadedness, chest tightness and stomach pain. Tell your doctor at once if you experience any of these symptoms. Also ask your doctor for additional information on all other potential glutamine-related side effects.