Glutamic Acid

Nonessential Micronutrient

OVERVIEW

Summary

One of the most common amino acids as well as the primary “food” for our brains, glutamic acid appears to support mental functioning. It’s even been shown to help boost intelligence in some cases as well as potentially enhance mental alertness, clarity of thinking, and mood. Plus, it helps remove ammonia from the body while boosting levels of powerful antioxidants, helping detoxify our bodies.

Other names for Glutamic Acid

glutamate (the salt form)

Where to find Glutamic Acid

Glutamic acid is abundant in both animal and plant proteins.

Popup: Foods highest in Glutamic Acid

PERFORMANCE BENEFITS

Why athletes use Glutamic Acid

Glutamic acid is used most commonly as a brain food to improve mental functioning. But it may also be a useful supplement to try if your goals are to speed recovery, reduce fatigue, and increase mental focus due to its ability to lock on to ammonia and remove this toxic stuff from both our muscles and our brains.


Ways that Glutamic Acid can enhance Muscle Gain & Recovery:
  • Help reduce fatigue and speed recovery by detoxifying muscle cells
Ways that Glutamic Acid can enhance Mental Functioning:
  • Support brain function, clarity of thinking, and mental capacity

HEALTH BENEFITS

Signs of Glutamic Acid deficiency

No deficiency conditions are known to exist.

Potential uses for Glutamic Acid

Research indicates that Glutamic Acid may be useful in the treatment of:

  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH)
  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Kidney stones

DISCUSSION


More about Glutamic Acid

One of the most common amino acids, glutamic acid gained popularity some years ago as a “brain fuel.” Proponents claimed it could help increase IQ, prevent senility, and treat depression. And while there is some good reason to believe these claims, science has been fairly slow lending its support.

How does it work?

As one of the few nutrients that can pass through the blood-brain barrier, glutamic acid does appear to support brain function and is our brains’ primary “food.” When glutamic acid enters the brain, it picks up any excess ammonia (a toxic waste product of metabolism) and transforms it into the amino acid glutamine. This conversion is the only way our brains can be detoxified. And, not only is glutamine not toxic, but it also appears to have some powerful antioxidant activities. Glutamine is also a component of glutathione, the body’s most potent antioxidant.

Glutamic acid, an excitatory neurotransmitter or chemical messenger, has been shown in some cases to help improve intelligence. In addition, it’s also a messenger in our brains and may improve mental alertness, clarity of thinking, and mood. As such, it’s been used to help fight fatigue, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia, mental retardation, muscular dystrophy, and alcoholism. It also appears to help shuttle potassium, an essential mineral, across the blood-brain barrier and into spinal fluid.


Detoxify muscle cells

Intense exercise has been shown to increase levels of ammonia in muscle cells, and this can slow recovery. As in the brain, glutamic acid attaches itself to ammonia to form glutamine, which is then removed. Because glutamic acid is an intermediary in the Kreb’s cycle, a complex process of metabolic energy production, and is important for carbohydrate metabolism, it also appears to help reduce fatigue.


Promote prostate health

Large amounts of glutamic acid are also contained in the fluid produced by the prostate gland and appear to be important to the normal function of this gland. One study, in fact, showed that men with benign prostatic hyperplasia saw significant improvements in their symptoms when they supplemented with glutamic acid, alanine, and glycine.


Other health benefits

Interestingly, researchers have also discovered there is often a correlation between reoccurring kidney stones and depressed levels of glutamic acid. Some research has indicated that glutamic acid supplementation my reduce the incidence of these stones.

In truth

Most experts recommend supplementing solely with glutamic acid’s close relative glutamine, yet there are some who suggest that glutamic acid may be more helpful in specific cases, especially those relating to brain functioning, mental health, prostate health, and detoxification.

NOTES ON USAGE

Amount

Anywhere from 500 mg to 2,000 mg per day has been reported.


Timing

Because glutamic acid may have some stimulatory effects, it’s typically recommended earlier in the day without food.

Synergists of Glutamic Acid

Some experts suggest that the amount of energy the branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) can produce is dependent on the amount of glutamic acid in the body and therefore suggest supplementing them together, along with Vitamin B6.

Glutamic acid, along with Vitamin B6 and manganese, is a precursor to the important brain messenger GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid).

Glutamic acid, alanine, and glycine may work together to reduce symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Safety of Glutamic Acid

Monosodium glutamine (MSG) is a salt form of glutamic acid, and while the two compounds have vastly different effects in the body, if you have any sensitivity to MSG, you may wish to avoid supplementation with glutamic acid.

Toxicity of Glutamic Acid

No known toxicity.


Bans and restrictions

None reported.

RELATED RESEARCH

  • Damrau, F., “Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy: Amino Acid Therapy for Symptomatic Relief,” J Am Geriatr Soc 10.5 (1962) : 426-30.
  • Feinblatt, H.M., and Grant, J.C., “Pallative Treatment of Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy. Value of Glycine-Alanine-Glutamic Acid Combination,” J Maine Med Assoc (1958).