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Are glutamate and glutamine the same?

While they may seem to be the same, glutamate and glutamine actually come from two different types of classes of amino acids. 

One of the big differences between the two is that glutamate is a nonessential amino acid and glutamine is a conditional amino acid.

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According to Medline Plus, nonessential amino acids such as glutamate are categorized as such because the human body normally makes enough.  

We don’t usually need to take up any more glutamate than what we consume in our food. 

Conditional amino acids such as glutamine are only essential in times of illness and stress.

What is glutamate?

According to Providence Health & Services , glutamate, also known as glutamic acid, is taken up by the body in order to build proteins. Glutamate is the most abundant stimulating neurotransmitter in the nervous system.

Glutamate is naturally made by the body and is also found in food sources and supplements. However, those people who are in good health do not need to take supplements of glutamate. Only those who are instructed to do so by a physician should supplement with glutamate.

For those looking to naturally increase their intake of glutamate you can do so by consuming any meat, eggs, or even dairy products such as milk and cheese. 

There is a correlation with glutamate and improved brain function. It is believed that glutamate stimulates the brain’s receptors. It is highly recommended to not take any glutamate or glutamic acid supplement if you have any type of nervous system disorder.

What is glutamine?

The tissue that produces the most glutamine in the body is your muscle tissue, which makes about around ninety percent of synthesis of glutamine. In small amounts, glutamine is also produced by the brain and the lungs.

The cells of the intestine, activated immune cells, the kidney cells and even cancer cells are the biggest consumers of glutamine. Glutamine also plays a huge role in keeping the intestinal mucosa in top condition. Glutamine also helps in nitrogen transporting, especially to those cells that are undergoing division.

Plant and animal proteins usually contain glutamine. Some of the best sources of animal protein are in dairy products, especially cottage and ricotta cheese, yogurt, and milk. 

Meat sources of glutamine are eggs, fish, pork, chicken and beef. Plant proteins that are packed with glutamine are beans and some vegetables including cabbage, parsley and spinach.

There are also specially designed food supplements that are packed full of glutamine. These include nutrition bars and protein drinks. 

Some of these scientifically enhanced foods are made to promote energy and bodybuilding and contain large amounts of glutamine. These bars and drinks isolate proteins from other foods in order to do so.

What are the similarities and differences between glutamate and glutamine?

Both glutamate and glutamine belong to the group known as amino acids. Their chemical characteristics are very similar as well. Both contain nitrogen, both belong to a carboxylic acid chemical group, and both glutamate and glutamine are alkaline.

However, they are different in their molecular chains. Glutamate has a charge that is negative and glutamine does not have a charge at all. As stated above, another big difference between the two is that glutamate is a non essential amino acid, while glutamine is a conditional amino acid.

What are glutamate and glutamine used for in supplementation?

Glutamate is used for a different purpose than glutamine. Glutamate is only beneficial for those people who are deficient of protein. 

If too much glutamate is supplemented this can over stimulate the brain. It cannot be used by people who have existing neurological diseases and disorders.

Glutamine can be used by almost everyone under the proper supervision of a health professional. Glutamine is great for those who are suffering from critical illnesses that do not include kidney or liver disorders. It is also beneficial for those athletes who are depleting their glutamine stores by heavy exercise.

Studies have seen positive results in glutamine supplementation in those who are suffering from cancer or HIV/AIDs. The stress these illnesses cause the body depletes the body of its stores of glutamine. Adding the proper amount of glutamine has helped some patients to recover and also has shown to improve functioning of their immune systems.

Before starting any new supplement, diet or exercise regimen it’s important to check with your doctor. Preexisting conditions or sensitivities to either glutamate or glutamine could cause some very adverse effects. 

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