What Are the Good Natural Sources of Glutamine?
Glutamine is found in most animals and plants, but the best sources for glutamine are high protein foods. The body can produce glutamine, but it protein is an essential element in the metabolic process. Small amounts of glutamine supplements are sometimes added to protein drinks, but these are not a natural, or even an especially rich source of glutamine.
Meats, Poultry and Eggs
Animal food sources are usually high in both protein and glutamine since animals use the amino acid in cell division. Beef, pork, venison and poultry are especially good sources of the amino acid. It is best to eat meat from animals that have not been treated with hormones or antibiotics. Eggs are another glutamine rich food, and the best eggs are those laid by free range chickens that have not been the fed growth hormones added to commercial animal feeds. Check with local organic farmers for hormone and antibiotic free meats. Fresh fish is high in glutamine and protein and low in fat.
Yogurt, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese and low fat or skim milk are all excellent sources of protein, calcium and glutamine. While other cheeses and dairy products contain protein and glutamine, they are often high in fat. Processed cheeses usually have a high sodium content since salt is used to make many varieties of hard cheese. Soft, unripe cheeses provide lots of protein and glutamine without fat and high sodium levels which that have little nutritional value.
Commercially Baked Bread
While bread might not normally be considered a source of glutamine, some commercial manufacturers add glutamine and proline, which is another amino acid, to improve the consistency of the dough. This may cause problems for individuals with sensitivity to gluten since it raises the gluten content in the bread. You can check the ingredient labels on commercially baked breads or do an internet search to find out which breads are enriched with glutamine.
Vegetables, Beans and Nuts
Raw, dark green vegetables like spinach and parsley are rich in glutamine. Heat destroys amino acids so the best sources are uncooked vegetables. Other good vegetable choices are cabbage, beets, kale, and wheatgrass. All beans and legumes are rich in glutamine and are a good source of the amino acid for vegetarians and vegans. The concentration of glutamine is different in different types of nuts, but nuts, eaten in small quantities can be an important source of this amino acid.
Protein Bars and Energy Drinks
Depending on the formulation, protein bars may supplement all of the amino acids including glutamine. Some energy drinks are enriched with glutamine. While not everyone considers these natural sources, they are foods that can provide extra glutamine in the diet. Protein shakes, protein bars and energy drinks enriched with glutamine are usually available at health food stores, day spas and fitness centers.
A high protein diet that is high in glutamine is especially important for vegetarians who may not get enough amino acids in their food. Most healthy individuals consume enough protein and glutamine rich foods to avoid any dietary deficiency.