Glutamine is a naturally occurring substance in your body that performs several vital functions. While healthy individuals produce enough glutamine on their own, certain people may look toward supplements to increase their intake.

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What Is Glutamine?

Glutamine is an amino acid -- a building block of protein. Under normal circumstances, your body produces enough glutamine. However, if your body needs excessive protein levels, such as if you have suffered an injury or exercise regularly, you may need additional glutamine intake from food or supplements.

Glutamine helps regulate cell growth and function, and removes excess ammonia from the body. In addition, it helps the immune and digestion systems, and is needed for proper brain function.

Types of Supplements

If you believe you need additional glutamine you may want to take supplements. Supplementation can be an easy and safe way to reach your desired level. Glutamine supplements come in many forms but the most common are capsules and powders.

Before Taking Supplements

Before taking any supplements, you should consult your physician. If you have kidney or liver disease you should not take glutamine, advises the University of Maryland Medical Center 12. If you are under treatment for cancer do not take glutamine unless prescribed by your doctor, as glutamine may promote the development of tumors. In addition, you should consult a doctor if you are taking other medications or have allergies that may interfere with your supplementation.

Dosage Recommendations

Glutamine should be taken with food or beverage at room temperature. Hot food or liquid will destroy the glutamine. For adults, doses of 500 milligrams, one to three times per day, is considered safe. However, a physician can prescribe doses as high as 5,000 to 15,000 milligrams per day.

Side Effects of Glutamine

Glutamine supplements, like any medication, come with its share of possible side effects. Common side effects include coughing, hoarseness and digestive problems. If these problems continue, you should consult a doctor. Less common effects include body aches, fever, shortness of breath and increased heart rate.