Glutamic acid (glutamate) is a non-essential (can be made by the body) amino acid used by the body for a variety of functions. Glutamic Acid is present as a glutamine precursor. Glutamine may also be converted to glutamic acid. Therefore, glutamine and glutamic acid are somewhat interconvertible.

Glutamic acid is also a component of folic acid and a precursor of glutathione, an antioxidant. Glutamic acid may play a role in the normal function of the heart and the prostate. Under normal circumstances, humans can meet their glutamate requirements directly from the diet or by making it from precursor molecules (e.g. glutamine) so only an individual deficient in protein would become deficient in glutamic acid.

Glutamic acid is also an important neurotransmitter involved with the transportation of potassium across the blood-brain barrier and is important in the metabolism of sugars and fats.

Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid and is found in large amounts in the muscles of the body, and since it easily pass through the blood-brain barrier, it is also known as a superb brain fuel, and some people refer to it as a “smart-vitamin” – although it is in actual fact no vitamin at all. Glutamic acid, a non-essential amino acid and is synthesized from a number of amino acids including ornithine and arginine.

Glutamic Acid is the precursor of GABA but has somewhat the opposite function; it is an excitatory neurotransmitter. It is one of the few nutrients that crosses the blood-brain barrier and is the only means by which ammonia in the brain can be detoxified.

It is considered to be nature’s “Brain food” by improving mental capacities; and is used in the treatment of depression, fatigue, alcoholism, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, mental retardation, and schizophrenia .

Glutamine readily passes the blood-brain barrier and increases the amount of glutamic acid and GABA; thereby enhancing normal nervous system function. As amino acids chemically change, ammonia is released. Glutamine plays a role in the removal of this toxic ammonia from the brain.

Because glutamine’s role in the nervous system is so important, during times of stress, illness, or surgery up to one third of the muscle stores of glutamine are released for nervous system usage; causing extensive muscle deterioration and loss. The muscle glutamine release is much lower if glutamine levels are increased through supplemental L-glutamine.

Supplemental L-glutamine is also used therapeutically for arthritis, autoimmune diseases, developmental disabilities, impotence, schizophrenia, and for tissue damage from cancer radiation treatments.

Supplemental glutamine should not be taken by anyone with a disproducts/products index that causes an accumulation of ammonia in the blood (kidney or liver problems, Reye’s syndrome, etc.)

The brain primarily uses glutamic acid. It has the ability to pick up excess ammonia, which inhibits brain functioning, and convert it into glutamine. Since glutamine produces an elevation of glutamic acid, a shortage in the diet can result in a shortage of glutamic acid in the brain.

Glutamine has also been shown to help in the control of alcoholism, shorten the healing time of ulcers and alleviate fatigue, depression, and impotence. It has also been used successfully in the treatment of schizophrenia and senility.

Sources of glutamic acid

Food sources of glutamic acid include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products, as well as some protein-rich plant foods.

Glutamine is found in many high protein foods, such as fish, meat, beans, and dairy as well as in vegetables such as raw parsley and spinach.

Benefits of glutamine and glutamic acid

Glutamine is converted to glutamic acid in the brain, which is essential for cerebral functions, and increases the amount of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which is required for brain functioning and mental activity. It is used in the muscles for the synthesis of muscle proteins, and is of use for the treatment of wasting muscles after illness or post-operative care. Although the body requires nitrogen, free nitrogen in the body can be harmful since it forms ammonia – especially toxic to the brain. The liver normally converts ammonia to urea, excreted in the urine – but glutamic acid attaches itself to nitrogen and forms glutamic acid, while removing ammonia from the brain.It further is used in the body to balance the acid/alkaline level and is also the basis or building blocks of RNA and DNA. It serves as a source of fuel for cells lining the intestines and it is also used by white blood cells and is important for immune function.

Glutamic acid is an important excitatory neurotransmitter, and glutamic acid is also important in the metabolism of sugars and fats. It helps with the transportation of potassium across the blood-brain barrier, although itself does not pass this barrier that easily. It also shows promise in the future treatment of neurological conditions, ulcers, hypoglycemic come, muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, and mental retardation.Glutamic acid can be used as fuel in the brain, and can attach itself to nitrogen atoms in the process of forming glutamine, and this action also detoxifies the body of ammonia. This action is the only way in which the brain can be detoxified from ammonia. The fluid produced by the prostate gland also contains amounts of glutamic acid, and may play a role in the normal function of the prostate.

Deficiency symptoms of glutamine

Deficiency of this nutrient is rare, since it can be manufactured by the body but deficiencies can develop during periods of fasting, starvation, strict dieting, cirrhosis, and weight loss associated with AIDS and cancer.

Symptoms of high intake

High dosages of glutamic acid may include symptoms such as headaches and neurological problems.

Daily requirement

In the presence of good health, supplementation of glutamine should not be necessary.