Glutamic acid, abbreviated Glu, is a non-essential amino acid, which doesn’t mean the body doesn’t need it, but it means the body can synthesize it from other amino acids.
Glutamic acid is involved in the production of proteins. In the body, it turns into glutamate, which plays many important roles. Not only does glutamate help maintain the integrity, growth and function of the intestine, but it also contributes to brain health (learning and memory). As an excitatory neurotransmitter, it helps nerve cells in the brain communicate with each other and is also a precursor to the synthesis of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). Moreover, glutamate enters in the composition of glutathione, an antioxidant compound that protects cells from oxidative damage and that plays an important role in drug detoxification.
Eating a balanced and varied diet with adequate protein enables getting enough glutamic acid that can come from animal and plant sources. Foods rich in glutamic acid include seafood (e.g. whelk, cuttlefish, octopus, clam), fish (e.g. tuna, tilapia, mackerel, salmon), turkey, legumes (e.g. soybeans, lupins), natto (fermented soybeans), cheese (e.g. ricotta, cottage, parmesan), tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms, miso, kimchi and yeast spread.
Intense exercise generates a subsequent production of ammonia, an extremely toxic substance for the central nervous system, in muscle cells. Glutamic acid binds to ammonia, leading to the synthesis of glutamine. Note that glutamic acid deficiency may lead to fatigue, insomnia, lethargy and the inability to concentrate.
However, as the famous saying goes: all in moderation. An excess of glutamic acid can also be harmful if taken in exceeding doses. Some side effects of too much glutamic acid from dietary supplements include headaches, increased pain sensitivity and increased blood pressure.
In conclusion, our glutamic acid levels impact many aspects of our mental and physical health. In order to make sure that your glutamic acid levels are balanced and steady, make sure to test your levels and to evaluate how you can make the right changes to rebalance your body and mind.