L-Glutamine Benefits & Sources

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Samuel Anthony
Apr 20, 2023
Three wooden spoons with vegan beans on them

L-Glutamine is an amino acid produced naturally by the body and found in many high-protein foods. It is crucial to immune function, muscle recovery, and gut health. As a vegan, it's vital to ensure you get enough L-Glutamine in your diet, as some studies have suggested that plant-based diets may be lower in this essential amino acid. Let's explore the benefits of L-Glutamine and how it can contribute to a healthy whole food plant-based vegan diet.

Improves gut health

One of the significant benefits of L-Glutamine is its ability to improve gut health. It plays a vital role in maintaining the integrity of the intestinal lining, which can become damaged by stress, poor diet, and pharmaceuticals. When the gut lining is compromised, harmful toxins and bacteria can leak into the bloodstream, leading to inflammation and health issues.

L-Glutamine helps to repair and strengthen the gut lining, reducing the risk of the leaky gut syndrome and improving nutrient absorption. This amino acid is also a preferred fuel source for the cells lining the intestine, promoting healthy cell growth and preventing inflammation.

As a vegan, incorporating L-Glutamine-rich foods like legumes, beans, nuts, and seeds into your diet can help support gut health. However, in rare cases, L-Glutamine supplements may be necessary to address specific gut health issues. It's essential to consult with a healthcare provider or nutritionist before taking supplements.

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Supports immune function

L-Glutamine also plays a critical role in supporting immune function. It helps boost the production and activity of white blood cells, which are essential for fighting off infections and diseases.

Research has shown that L-Glutamine supplementation can help to reduce the risk of infections in athletes and individuals under stress. The risk reduction occurs with supplementation because intense physical activity and stress can deplete the body's L-Glutamine levels, weakening the immune system.

A diet rich in L-Glutamine can also help support immune function. The amino acid is in many plant-based protein sources, such as spinach, lentils, and quinoa. Incorporating these foods into a whole food plant-based vegan diet can help to maintain optimal immune function.

Aids in muscle recovery

L-Glutamine could play a significant role in muscle recovery after intense exercise or physical activity. It helps to reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery time, allowing athletes and fitness enthusiasts to train harder and more frequently.

During intense exercise, L-Glutamine stores in the muscles can deplete, leading to muscle breakdown and weakness. Supplementing with L-Glutamine can help to replenish these stores and reduce muscle damage.

Plant-based sources of L-Glutamine include tofu, tempeh, and spirulina. Incorporating these foods into a vegan diet can help support muscle recovery and growth.

Reduces inflammation

Studies have linked chronic inflammation to various health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. L-Glutamine has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce inflammation in the body and protect against these diseases.

L-Glutamine helps to reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which contribute to chronic inflammation. It also supports the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines, which help counteract inflammation's effects.

A whole food plant-based vegan diet is naturally anti-inflammatory, with many plant-based foods containing high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Incorporating L-Glutamine-rich foods like spinach, kale, and parsley can support an anti-inflammatory diet.

Sources of L-Glutamine on a whole food plant-based vegan diet.

While L-Glutamine is in many animal-based protein sources such as meat, fish, and dairy, plenty of plant-based sources are available for vegans. These include:

  • Legumes: beans, lentils, and peas
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds
  • Whole grains: brown rice, oats, and quinoa
  • Vegetables: spinach, cabbage, parsley, and kale

Incorporating these L-Glutamine-rich foods into a whole food plant-based vegan diet can help ensure you get enough of this essential amino acid. However, in some cases, L-Glutamine supplements may be necessary to address specific health issues. It's critical to consult with a healthcare provider before taking supplements.


L-Glutamine is an essential amino acid with numerous health benefits, including improved gut health, immune function, muscle recovery, and reduced inflammation. While plant-based diets can be lower in L-Glutamine, plenty of vegan sources are available, such as legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and vegetables. Incorporating these foods into a whole food plant-based vegan diet can help ensure you get enough of this critical amino acid. Remember, it's essential to consult with a healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your diet or taking supplements.

Sources by category

Improves gut health

  • Maughan, R. J. (2018). Glutamine supplementation and recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage: a meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 52(5), 322-323.
  • Wu, G. (2013). Amino acids: metabolism, functions, and nutrition. Amino Acids, 45(3), 463-463.
  • Rao, R. K., & Samak, G. (2013). Protection and Restitution of Gut Barrier by Probiotics: Nutritional and Clinical Implications. Current Nutrition and Food Science, 9(2), 99-107.

Supports immune function

  • Calder, P. C., Carr, A. C., Gombart, A. F., & Eggersdorfer, M. (2020). Optimal nutritional status for a well-functioning immune system is an important factor to protect against viral infections. Nutrients, 12(4), 1181.
  • Castell, L. M., & Newsholme, E. A. (1997). Glutamine and the effects of exhaustive exercise upon the immune response. Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, 75(5), 526-532.
  • Calder, P. C., & Kew, S. (2002). The immune system: a target for functional foods?. British Journal of Nutrition, 88(S2), S165-S177.

Aids in muscle recovery

  • Legault, Z., Bagnall, N., & Kimmerly, D. S. (2015). The influence of oral L-Glutamine supplementation on muscle strength recovery and soreness following unilateral knee extension eccentric exercise. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 25(5), 417-426.
  • Sandoval, D. A., & Mattson, D. L. (2008). Uptake of glutamine in the gastrointestinal tract. Current Opinion in Gastroenterology, 24(6), 607-611.
  • Gleeson, M. (2008). Dosing and efficacy of glutamine supplementation in human exercise and sport training. The Journal of Nutrition, 138(10), 2045S-2049S.

Reduces inflammation

  • Cruzat, V. F., Krause, M., Newsholme, P., & Ardigo, L. P. (2014). Pro-inflammatory cytokines and oxidative stress responses to progressive exercise intensity in humans. Sports Medicine, 44(2), 191-202.
  • Calder, P. C. (2017). Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammatory processes: from molecules to man. Biochemical Society Transactions, 45(5), 1105-1115.
  • Christ, A., & Latz, E. (2019). The Western lifestyle has lasting effects on metaflammation. Nature Reviews Immunology, 19(5), 267-268.

Sources of L-Glutamine on a whole food plant-based vegan diet

  • Mangels, R., Messina, V., & Messina, M. (2011). The dietitian's guide to vegetarian diets: issues and applications (3rd ed.). Jones and Bartlett Publishers.


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