Everywhere you turn these days, it seems someone's extolling the benefits of glutamine. you see it in advertisements for sports nutrition products. Manufacturers sprinkle it in powders and pills. Scientists focus research on it. Bodybuilders ask for it by name. But what exactly is glutamine, and is it important to those of us who is into bodybuilding ?

If you were to believe everything you heard in the gym, you'd be convinced that glutamine (also referred to as L-glutamine) could accelerate recuperation, promote cell volumization, regulate protein synthesis and provide fuel for your brain cells, small intestine, kidneys, lunge and immune system. You'd be right.

To understand how a single amino acid can accomplish so much, let's take a closer look at what glutamine is and how it works. Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body, constituting approximately 50% of the free intracellular amino acid pool. To describe glutamine as a nonessential amino acid would be technically correct, but that description can't be taken literally.

People frequently misinterpret the distinction between essential and nonessential amino acids to mean important and unimportant. Nothing could be further from the truth. Somewhere during our evolutionary process, our not-yet-Homo sapiens body prioritized its amino-acid shopping list into 2 categories. One is amino acids the body can't produce and must therefore be provided via diet. These are the essential amino acids, since you either get them in what you eat or not at all. The second category is amino acids the body can produce from miscellaneous components, such as other amino acids, various dietary constituents, or by cannibalizing its own tissue. Since it's only preferable (not essential) that these amino acids be provided through diet, these are called nonessential amino acids.

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