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Vitamins, Minerals and Dietary Supplements

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Glutamic Acid

What is glutamic acid?

Glutamic acid is an amino acid used by the body to build proteins. It is usually present in the central nervous system (CNS), and is the most common type of excitatory, or stimulating, neurotransmitter in the CNS. It is produced by the body, and can also be found in certain types of food.

Glutamic acid may play a role in the proper functioning of the prostate gland. A study published back in the 1960s found that men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BHP), a precursor to prostate cancer, showed improved symptoms in less pain when taking a combination of glutamic acid, alanine and glycine. Glutamic acid may also protect the heart muscle and improve heart function and athletic capacity in people with angina.

How much glutamic acid should I take?

Because glutamic acid is produced naturally by the body, healthy people do not need to take glutamic acid supplements. In cases where supplementation is necessary, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider first.

What forms of glutamic acid are available?

Glutamic acid is available in various food sources and as a supplement. Foods that contain large amounts of glutamic acid include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and most dairy products.

What can happen if I take too much glutamic acid? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

A form of glutamic acid known as monosodium glutamate (MSG) has been shown to cause adverse effects (including headaches, fatigue and depression) in some individuals. Overstimulation of the receptors that accept glutamic acid is believed to be a possible cause of certain neurological disorders, such as epilepsy and Lou Gehrig's disease. As such, people with neurological disorders should speak with a licensed health care provider before taking glutamic acid supplements. As of this writing, there are no well-known drug interactions with glutamic acid. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking glutamic acid or any other dietary supplement or herbal remedy.

References

  • Damrau F. Benigh prostatic hypertrophy: amino acid therapy for symptomatic relief. Journal of the American Geriatric Society 1962;10:426-30.
  • Daniels DH, Joe FL, Diachenko GW. Determination of free glutamic acid in a variety of foods by high-performance liquid chromatography. Food Additives and Contaminants 1995;12:21-29.
  • Fernstrom JD, Cameron JL, Fernstrom MH, et al. Short-term neuroendocrine effects of a large, oral dose of monosodium glutamate in fasting male subjects. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 1996;81:184-191.
  • Thomassen A, Nielsen TT, Bagger JP, et al. Anti-ischemic and metabolic effects of glutamate during pacing in patients with stable angina pectoris secondary to either coronary artery disease or syndrome X. American Journal of Cardiology 1991;68:291-5.
  • Zello GA, Wykes LF, Ball RO, et al. Recent advances in methods of assessing dietary amino acid requirements for adult humans. Journal of Nutrition 1995;125:2907-15.

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