Glutamine: Surprise Benefits for Heart, Bones, and Blood Sugar

December 1, 2020 | Dr. Linda J. Dobberstein, DC, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition

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 Glutamine: Surprise Benefits for Heart, Bones, and Blood Sugar
The previous article Glutamine: Critical for Gut, Immune System, and Muscles during Stress and Aging delved into its well-known and important impact on gut and immune health. The benefits of glutamine actually go far beyond these areas. It provides lesser known, but yet key roles for heart health, bones and cartilage, and blood sugar stability. This amino acid definitely has an essential role in health. Here are some of the surprising benefits of glutamine.

Surprise Benefits of Glutamine: Cardiovascular Health

Recent findings demonstrate glutamine’s positive impact on cardiovascular and circulatory health as it supports HDL cholesterol levels. Higher tissue levels of glutamine are associated with a leaner body mass index and healthier blood pressure, triglycerides, and insulin levels in the blood stream.

Promising research illustrates that glutamine impacts cardiovascular function and structure as it provides anti-aging, antioxidant support to the inner (endothelial) lining of blood vessels. The endothelial lining is very sensitive to free radicals, germs, and blood sugar. Glutamine provides compounds and antioxidant support that help protect and repair this delicate lining.

Glutamine functions as a precursor to L-arginine, another amino acid that drives nitric oxide synthesis. Nitric oxide is a gas that allows blood vessel dilation and relaxation. This gas helps platelets move freely through blood vessels and also affects endothelial lining function. Glutamine helps regulate vascular homeostasis and management of aging cells inside blood vessels.

Glutamine provides essential energy to cardiac muscle cells under stress. Recent studies, including a randomized clinical trial, demonstrated the benefits of glutamine intake for heart health when under oxidative stress with high repair demands.

Surprise Benefits: Glutamine, Bones and Cartilage

Bone and cartilage health also depend upon glutamine. New research shows that “glutamine exerts crucial roles in bone homeostasis at cellular level”. Evidence demonstrates that bones depend on glutamine for mineralization and support of osteoblasts and chondrocytes, which are your bone and cartilage building cells. Glutamine also contributes to glucosamine formation, a natural compound found in cartilage.

Surprise Benefits: Brain and Blood Sugar

Glutamine is often used to tame sugar cravings and support blood sugar stability. A 2020 systematic review showed glutamine supports fasting and post-meal blood sugar levels, and aids in insulin production.

Glutamine provides a reserve supply of energy and fuel to nerves and glial cells within the brain during times of low blood sugar.

Metabolic Fuel

Glutamine metabolism is complex. It interacts back and forth with the neurochemical glutamate which produces other amino acids, fatty acids, ATP, and Kreb’s cycle nutrients essential for energy production. Glutamine provides nitrogen and carbon which affect cellular metabolism, pH balance, immune activity, repair, and vital organ functioning and may contribute as much as 1/3 of your body’s nitrogen needs.

Glutamine is one of three amino acids necessary to form the antioxidant glutathione. This powerful master antioxidant system provides crucial protection for the immune system, brain, liver, heart, lungs, mitochondria, blood sugar management, and more.

Glutamine Sources

Glutamine provides essential material and fuel for repair and high energy demands. Meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, and fish are the richest sources of glutamine. Those who follow a plant-based diet may find lesser amounts of glutamine in beans and legumes and negligible amounts in other foods.

Supplemental glutamine is essential when your body is under significant physical duress and provides helpful anti-aging support. Oral glutamine doses may range from 3 grams to 15 grams or more per day. Consider extra glutamine support if you need a little extra support in the concerns above or feel physically worn down and depleted.

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