How Glutamine Aids
Our Immune System

Glutamine is also known as L-Glutamine. It is an essential amino acid found naturally in the body.  It is the most abundant amino acid in the body and is prominent in the muscles. Glutamine is vital to the biosynthesis of proteins by the body. Glutamine can be depleted in the body in cases of severe muscular injury, or chronic illnesses and supplementation in these cases is done through nutritional supplements or increasing intake of food rich in glutamine. Glutamine plays a significant role in the synthesis of proteins and energy donation. These roles have increased the demand for glutamine as a nutritional supplement amongst athletes, bodybuilders and endurance sportsmen and women.

Glutamine is efficient when used by individuals who do endurance exercises. During exercise, there is increased amounts of ammonia in the blood which leads to muscle breakdown. Glutamine works by detoxifying the ammonia out of the blood, and this means that the individual can be able to exercise longer or maintain a high performance throughout a game of high intensity.  Glutamine supplementation at a rate of 70-100mls/kg increases exercise duration by more than an hour and preserves sports performance.

The supplementation of glutamine increases muscle growth. This fact has been proven through clinical trials in individuals who have severe burns. Initially, glutamine was thought to grow muscles in every individual, but recent studies have revealed that it works only in individuals who have been wounded or are deficient of glutamine. The amount of glutamine in the body is highly regulated, and thus excess glutamine is excreted through the kidneys. This reason is what makes glutamine supplementation in individuals with normal L-glutamine levels less effective. During exercise, muscles may undergo trauma, strain or tears. Glutamine helps to accelerate recovery from such situations.  Nitrogen is crucial for the healing process to take place. Glutamine provides about a third of this nitrogen.

Athletes who engage in endurance exercises are prone to infections and glutamine serves to prevent these infections as it plays a significant role in the immune system where it is a fuel for different cells of the immune system such as the leukocytes. (Demling R, 2009). The integrity of the immune system is compromised when there are insufficient amounts of glutamine in the body. When the need for glutamine surpasses what the body has, then the body breaks down the protein stores to increase its levels. Glutamine supplementation and intake high glutamine diet are some of the practices encouraged in immunocompromised individuals or those with severe injuries.

The role of glutamine in the immune system is directly related to its role in intestinal health. In a healthy individual, L-Glutamine plays different roles in intestinal health such as; it ensures the growth and proliferation of intestinal absorptive cells and also maintains the integrity of the intestinal tight junctions. It protects against intestinal cell death during pathologic conditions of the gut. Glutamine supplementation is prescribed for individuals with intestinal diseases such as leakage and Crohn’s disease as these conditions are associated with low glutamine concentrations and the supplementations have been proved to improve clinical outcomes. 


In conclusion, Glutamine is essential to both a healthy and an ill individual. Sick people may require glutamine supplementation to improve their clinical outcomes. Glutamine is vital for athletes and individuals who do strenuous activities and exercise to ensure the integrity of their muscles and to improve their ability to cope with the effects of the strain.

Demling R. H. (2009). Nutrition, anabolism, and the wound healing process: an overview. Eplasty, 9, e9.

Kim, M. H., & Kim, H. (2017). The Roles of Glutamine in the Intestine and Its Implication in Intestinal Diseases. International journal of molecular sciences, 18(5).

Legault Z, Bagnall N, Kimmerly DS. (2015). The Influence of Oral L-Glutamine Supplementation on Muscle Strength Recovery and Soreness Following Unilateral Knee Extension Eccentric Exercise. International Journal of Sport Nutrition. (5) Pp. 417.

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