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Side Effects of L-Glutamine Supplement

author image Janet Renee, MS, RD
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.
Side Effects of L-Glutamine Supplement
Protein-rich foods are a source of glutamine. Photo Credit: Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid -- one of the building blocks of protein -- in your body. You can typically get enough glutamine without supplementing; however, under certain circumstances, supplementation may prove helpful. Glutamine helps your body get rid of excess ammonia and helps protect the lining of your gastrointestinal tract. Prolonged stress, injury and infections may lower glutamine levels; in these cases, supplementing may provide a benefit, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Talk to your doctor before taking glutamine supplements.

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Gastrointestinal Side Effects

Taking glutamine may cause side effects, which may be mild and go away as your body adjusts. Discontinue use and contact your healthcare provider if you experience side effects that become too bothersome. Gastrointestinal side effects associated with taking glutamine supplements include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, flatulence, constipation, dry mouth and hemorrhoids. In addition, a chance exists that taking glutamine may aggravate certain gastrointestinal conditions, including gastric ulcers, Crohn's disease and gastrointestinal fistula, a condition that allows stomach contents to leak out.

Cardiovascular and Musculoskeletal

Talk to your doctor to determine whether it is safe for you to take glutamine if you have a heart condition. Some users have reported cardiovascular side effects, such as chest pain and vascular problems; taking glutamine may aggravate these conditions. In the same manner, you should talk to your doctor if you have a musculoskeletal disorder, since some users have reported joint pain, back pain and muscle pain. These symptoms may cause problems if you have a condition such as fibromyalgia.

Other Side Effects

Taking glutamine may cause edema, which refers to your body retaining more water than normal. If you have a health condition that increases your risk for edema, discuss it with your doctor before taking glutamine. On the flip side, glutamine may cause increased thirst and dehydration in some people. Other potential side effects include dizziness, headache, depression, increased sweating, skin rash, trouble sleeping and breast pain.

Glutamine Safety

Glutamine is available in tablet and powder form. Avoid adding glutamine powder to hot beverages because heat destroys glutamine. Avoid taking glutamine if you have kidney disease, liver disease or Reye's syndrome. Glutamine may stimulate the growth of tumors, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. More research is needed to know whether it is safe to take glutamine if you have cancer. Glutamine appears safe in doses of 14 grams or higher, according to the UMMC. Take glutamine as directed by your doctor.

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