Today’s post is about a protein component that’s absolutely critical to your bone health and to your overall health.
It’s an amino acid that plays a very important role in bone density because it keeps your muscles strong, regulates your body pH, and is necessary for the synthesis of a powerful bone-protective antioxidant.
But that’s not all; it also has many other general health benefits. So much so, that it’s been touted as the “Fountain of Youth”. Unfortunately, levels of this amino acid tend to decrease as we age.
You’ll never hear this from your doctor, so I’m thrilled to give you detailed information on this amino acid including how to make sure you have adequate levels of it.
Glutamine, The Bone-Building, Anti-Aging Powerhouse
First of all, it’s important to clarify that glutamine should not be confused with the toxic food additive monosodium glutamate (MSG). Although glutamine acts as a precursor in the production of the neurotransmitter glutamate, consuming the flavor-enhancing salt product, monosodium glutamate (MSG), is really toxic.
You see, when you consume foods flavored with MSG, you’re taking in a “free” form of glutamate that acts as an excitotoxin in the body. (Excitotoxins over-stimulate neurons, resulting in death or damage of nerve cells.) The glutamate your body produces on its own is “bound,” and is a vital component in the synaptic process.
Also, you may have seen glutamine written as L-glutamine; they are the same thing written different ways. The “L” simply refers to the way glutamine links up with other amino acids.
Before we move on to glutamine’s specific roles in the body, it’s important that we clarify…
Just What Is An Amino Acid?
Amino acids form the building blocks of proteins, which explains their extraordinarily versatile biological functions. There are 20, of which 10 are essential because they can only be obtained from food. All of them have the same basic molecular structure: an amine bonded to carboxylic acid. Proteins are involved in many body functions and are the main structural component of muscle tissue.
Glutamine, a non-essential amino acid (because your body produces it) is a particularly special amino acid, and here are some important reasons why.
Glutamine And The Master Antioxidant
If you have the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, you know that Chapter 12 is devoted entirely to antioxidants and their importance in bone health. Glutamine actually helps your body produce an antioxidant known as glutathione (GSH), the “Master Antioxidant.” GSH is very effective – it even has the ability to detoxify acetaminophen, a pain killer whose toxic nature is becoming more and more well known.1
Glutamine increases GSH levels, according to a study published in the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition. When rats were fed food enriched with glutamine, their glutathione levels increased.2
“Supplemental oral GLN [glutamine] further enhances GLN extraction as well as GSH fractional release in the gut,”2 the study concludes.
Getting glutamine from foods is a very effective and balanced way to deliver it exactly where it’s needed to produce the Master Antioxidant and release it into your system. In a moment, we’ll take a look at more foods that are high in glutamine.
In addition to its role in producing GSH…
Glutamine Is Crucial To Your Bone Health
One of the most amazing things that glutamine does for your bones is help regulate your body’s pH. Your kidneys produce ammonium as a byproduct of their filtering process, a toxic substance with an acidic pH. Glutamine donates a proton to an ammonia molecule, thereby eliminating an acid and preserving an alkalizing bicarbonate.
Since your kidneys filter out excess acid from the blood, they can get exhausted and overloaded if you’re eating a highly acidic diet. If you’re following the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, you’re already getting many glutamine-rich foods that are part of the vital role that diet plays in alkalizing the body’s pH.
Because of its role as a protein building block, glutamine also promotes strong, flexible muscle tissue (which is composed primarily of protein). And already Savers know that…
Strong Muscles Promote Strong Bones
When you exercise, your muscles contract to pull on your skeleton, causing motion. Muscles cannot push; they can only contract, then relax to release. In addition to the pull of gravity, this muscle-on-bone action signals your bone cells to build up and increase in density and strength at the point of friction or impact. That’s why exercise is as indispensable as diet in maintaining and building bone.
Glutamine’s list of health benefits goes beyond bone health. Next, we’re going to take a look at some of the ways glutamine acts in other body systems and processes.
Glutamine Promotes A Youthful Appearance
As glutamine production decreases with age, the body must obtain it from muscle tissue and skin, where it is normally present and accounts for firmness, strength, and elasticity. When the body must tap into its own glutamine stores, it causes the body to “dry up,” so to speak. Muscle tissue thins, and skin sags and wrinkles. This is why glutamine is sometimes referred to as the “inner fountain of youth.”
Getting plenty of glutamine in your diet prevents your body from having to use its own stores, so your skin and muscles can retain their strength and elasticity.
Digestive And Immune Systems Benefit From Glutamine
Glutamine supports the lining of the small and large intestine, thus preventing unhealthy intestinal permeability, soothing inflammation, and possibly managing various allergic reactions. It also acts as an immune system booster, preventing infection even in those whose immune systems are compromised through excessive exercise or medical procedures.3
Sources Of Glutamine
As I mentioned above, glutamine is non-essential, so your body produces it; but glutamine production decreases with age, raising the need for supplementation. Despite this, I do not recommend taking oral supplements, and here’s why.
The fact that your body makes glutamine means that it is part of a complex, delicately-balanced biological process that involves an intricate interplay between hormones, nutrients, neurotransmitters, and other body systems. Obtaining glutamine from foods avoids the potential for overdosing on glutamine, which would knock this balance off-kilter and cause all sorts of problems.
Simply put, eating glutamine-rich foods gives your body what it requires to produce what it needs.
Foods High In Glutamine
- Plain yogurt*
- Lima Beans*
- Whey protein*
As you can see, the Osteoporosis Reversal Program already has you “covered” with regard to glutamine-rich foods. And if you’re looking for ways to prepare and enjoy them, please take a moment to check out Bone Appétit, the companion cookbook to the Program.
Till next time,
1 Baylor College Of Medicine. “Understanding Acetaminophen Poisoning.” ScienceDaily, 14 Oct. 2002. Web. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/10/021014072451.htm
2 Cao, Y, et al. “Glutamine enhances gut glutiathone production.” Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition. 1998 Jul-Aug. 22(4):224-7. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9661123
3 Leander U, Furst P, Vesterberg K, Vinnars E. “Nitrogen sparing effect of ornicetil(R) in the immediate postoperative state.” Clin Nutr 1985;4:43-51.
Comments on this article are closed.
One important thing to consider is that for proper absorbtion calcium must be followed with Magnesium. Western diets have an over consumption of Calcium while being deficient in Magnesium. Many professionals advocate a 2 – I ratio of Calcium to Magnesium. But because of over consumption of calcium it should be a 1:1 ratio for supplementation. Dr. Carolyn Dean is an expert on Magnesium and her books are a must read. So if you want strong bones Magnesium should be added to the Vitamin K2 and Calcium supplementation. Plus, Vitamin D depletes Magnesium. So, it’s critical that all cofactors of supplements are supplied as well.
Wow, all these stereotypical cliches. Calcium doesn’t “need” magnesium, nor does it “need” K2, etc., all the time in order to be absorbed properly. We produce vitamin K in our guts, and get magnesium from other foods.
Please provide Pubmed studies to back up your claims.
Yes! We do need Magnesium and lots of it! We do not need to supplement with Calcium at all! It’s a myth!
All we need to do is take vitamin D3 with K2 (the K2 tells the Calcium to go to the right place), the D3 makes you absorb Calcium (which we already have lots of in our food).
I do follow Carolyn Dean and have greatly benefitted from her advise, and you don’t need to buy her products to do that, but the that woman has some great advise!
I am 69 and began glutamine supplements plus whey powder to build muscle mass from 3 hour a day dogs walking and was stunned it helped a growing case of ADHD — (forgetfulness and slow to conceptualize problem solving unless a needed set of tasks excited me) and my torn knee meniscus tendon causing knee to pop out of joint is eliminated! My orthopedist said this tendon cannot regrow and only steroid and hyalaraunic acid shots or ultimately, surgery could fix. I believe she is wrong! Thank you for your great info.
jane in fallbrook california
I am a little confused. You recommended True Osteo which has only 64mg per day magnesium.
In your recent email says that you should take 400mg per day. Can you square this circle please.
Also I have come across another product here in the UK called Solgar Ultimate bone Support.
This has a different type of calcium which the manufacturers say when taken with K2 and magnesium does not have the heart risk?
It is Calcio (malato dicalcicot, citrato, bisglicinato) 1,000mg
Magnesium 500 mg
Also Cobre, Zinc Vitimina D3
The above are taken from the Spanish product leaflet.
The calcium is not seaweed it is rock.
I look forward to your comments
HAVING SEIZURES CAUSED BY MSG. COULD INCREASING GLUTAMINE NATURALLY HELP DECREASE CHANCES OF SEIZURES, SINCE THE ONLY WAY TO STOP THEM IS AVOIDANCE. ALSO HAVE OSTEOPOROSIS, BUT WANT TO INCREASE NUMBER NATURALLY, AND NOT USE SUGGESTTION BY DOCTOR ABOUT SHOTS. WOULD APPRECIATE SUGGESTIONS AND ADVICE
Would you please comment on Collagen supplements for building inner bone.
I will look forward to your response. Thank you.
Vivian will you please print the place where I can order the whey protein as I couldn’t find it in your letter. I want to order it. Thank you Val
Thanks once again for your welcome reminder. Always look forward to your emails.
Thank you so much for your helpful and encouraging info. I had osteoporosis. After taking foxamax for 5 years my bone density had improved but I ddcided to stop. Now my bone density result became bad with -2.7. I’ll have appointment with doctor next week to discuss about that. I’m pretty sure that she will ask me to take pills. But I decide it to say NO. Is water exercises good for bone because I have arthritis so being in the water it helps my joint pain. Thank you again.
Hello from Australia, Thank you for your informative emails. My husband and I both have osteoporosis and have made the decision not to take the prescribed drugs as they did not agree with either of us and we were fearful of the side effects even before we had the good fortune to find your help. Your recent information re calcium supplements was very helpful as I was concerned about the studies on their affect on arteries. We have not been able to source the TrueOsteo brand here but, just yesterday, we discovered a product called Green Calcium which contains all the ingredients mentioned and is imported from Ireland. In regard to today’s email re glucosamine I take a product called Healthy Joints which contains glucosamine plus co-factors – Glucisamine sulfate-potassium chloride complex, ascorbic acid, citrus biofavonoids, manganese, zinc and copper (1 tablet daily). Have you an opinion on this product? We are very grateful for all your help.
Kindest regards, Marlene
Marlene, we too have found Green Calcium which is algae based. We have been taking it for about 6mths. The bone scan van will be visiting our town in August so we will have a scan then. My husband had osteopenia when we had our last scan in May 2011, so it will be interesting to see the results next time. We were taking AlgeCal, but it got too expensive to import it. The Green Calcium seemed an equivalent but heaps cheaper. We have also got my husbands cousin and his wife on it too, as his doctor had put him on Fosamax. So will be interesting to hear what their next scan reveals.
Thank you for all you do to help us stay away from the drugs that seem to do more harm than good. I have been following your emails,exercising, and eating healthy foods. I am on a drug for breast cancer and know it can have effects on my bones. Anything I can to add to counter those effects?
Vivian, I too am grateful for your web site and for all the time that goes into researching and staying up to date on everything. I am doing your ph diet lifestyle change and need a little more encouragement. Have you ever considered a site where we could all post our success and encourage each other on this journey of hope for strong bones? I find that I am living in fear and need some companionship of people in the same boat as me.
I really appreciate this latest info on protein. This will encourage me to continue my efforts to maintain a healthy diet. Need it badly!
Thanks again, Vivian.
Dear Vivian,I have read all your encouraging and convincing bulletins and purchased your excellent cookery book.I excercise daily and consume a bone friendly diet but still my bones leach and with several very painful compression fractured vertebrae and a bone density of -4.6 classified as severe osteoporosis,I have no alternative but to accept the dreaded Denusomab having reacted adversely to all oral bisphosphonates and Strontium Ranelate.Have you any advice regarding protecting myself against all the possible nasty side efffects?
You can actually get iff those meds by doing a complete Vitamin C IV protocol. It shifts your body so that the calcium goes back into your bones from your joints and organs. There is a special clinic opening in Panama this fall if you don’t have this therapy nearby. Wish you all the best.
I know the desperation of enduring chronic pain, but it is exactly at that point that one must take care not to make decisions that can worsen the situation. Please explore all options and, before you choose, ask yourself if this, without question, is a solution.
Good Afternoon Vivian,
Who Knew That Glutamine Could Do All Those Things! That’s Very Good To Know!
Thank You Very Much For Sharing It With Us.
Until Next Time – Take Care Of Yourself, And Stay Well.
LESLIE (MS. L. CARMEL)
I have osteoporosis and have recently been diagnosed with hyperparathyroidism. Am I fighting a losing battle in trying to reverse osteoporosis naturally with this condition? Thank you for all your information and articles.
Hello, I have been trying to heal hyperparathyroidism naturally for over 6 months but am having an operation this week to remove the offending gland. The side effects have become worse and worse: not just bone density loss and anxiety but aches and pains in muscles, depression, nausea, dizziness and digestive problems. From my experience I would deal with the parathyroid before you worry about the bones as with this condition the body consistently takes calcium from the bones and puts it into your blood making you feel awful. All the best, Celia
Thank you very ,very much for this excellent information.
I truly appreciated all your e-mails.
May GOD richly bless you as you continue to share
your knowledge to us.
Hoping to meet you someday to thank you personally.
Kind regards, Marlene
You’re so very welcome, Marlene! I’d love to meet you one day also 🙂
You mention in your glutathione article that this important amino acid should not be taken orally as it can cause all sorts of problems…can you specify what those problems might be?
Sure, Pat! Overdosing on glutamine supplements is not life-threatening, but it can cause a variety of undesirable digestive problems.
Very interesting information about glutamine. I recently read an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about a biochemist whose young daughter was diagnosed with autism. In researching the literature on autism, this woman read the story of another child who recovered (!) from autism by eliminating all the monosodium glutamate from her diet…not only foods with MSG on the label, but also the food additives that are hidden sources of free glutamic acid, like soy protein, yeasts, etc. So you caught my attention when you wrote, “…when you consume foods flavored with MSG, you’re taking in a “free” form of glutamate that acts as an excitotoxin in the body. (Excitotoxins over-stimulate neurons, resulting in death or damage of nerve cells.)” I wonder if there might possibly be such a connection to autism?? In any case, the biochemist switched her daughter to a whole foods diet (which is free of all processed foods, and includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and meats), and her autism symptoms disappeared. Now age 7, she no longer has autism. Sounds miraculous to me, and definitely worth a lot more study! What do you think?
I’m not surprised that eliminating junk food helped the little girl, Karla… it would most certainly help anyone become healthier. I haven’t researched autism, but it’s certainly great news that the common sense diet eliminated all the symptoms.
Are the Lima Beans the green ones or the dry ones? I can’t eat the green ones.
Why not? I can lol
Alice, white lima beans are a Foundation Food, and you can read all about their bone health (and general health) benefits in this previous post: https://saveourbones.com/12-foundation-supplements-in-this-alkalizing-bean/
Love your articles
I really appreciate your kind words, Donald!
If you take calcium, you should be taking Vitamin K2 to tell the calcium to go to your bones, not your arteries. Vitamin K2 is useless without Vitamins A and D. Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue’s book “Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox” is an eye opener. For years, doctors have hammered into the heads of women that they need to take calcium supplements, not informing us that instead of helping our bones it could potentially hurt our hearts.