Supplement City Part 5 – Glutamine, Arginine, and Fish Oil
Author and over-50 fitness freak John Shumate shares his supplementation scheme by listing all of his daily supplements, then providing a detailed description of each one in his multi-part series for masters men Supplement City.
Part 5: Glutamine, Arginine, and Fish Oil
Glutamine is the most abundant naturally occurring, non-essential (meaning our bodies can produce it) amino acid in the human body. It’s in the blood and stored in the skeletal muscles. Glutamine becomes conditionally essential (requiring intake from food or supplements) in states of illness, injury, or periods of peak physical demand, and that last benefit is why I take it as a supplement.
Sources of glutamine include beef, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, dairy products, wheat, cabbage, beets, beans, spinach, and parsley.
If you’re working hard in the gym each day, there’s no question that you’ll want to be taking care of your body during training. Each time you lift weight, a large amount of stress is placed on the body, including muscles and nerves. Glutamine helps speed recovery so I can continue pressing hard in my workouts.
It’s possible for our bodies to lose up to 50% of its glutamine levels from stressful workouts, and if your immune system or other parts of your body become glutamine-deficient, the muscles’ glutamine stores are first to be tapped, creating the risk for muscle loss.
Arginine plays an important role in cell division, the healing of wounds, removing ammonia from the body, immune function, and the release of hormones. These are all important physical functions for workouts with muscle building as a goal.
The benefits and functions attributed to oral supplementation of arginine include:
- Help production of nitric oxide, which drives blood vessel dialation
- Reduces healing time of injuries
- Quickens repair time of damaged tissue from intense workouts
Arginine also contributes to the synthesis of creatine, another of my supplements that we’ll talk about later that’s important in delivering energy into our muscle cells.
Fish oil is derived from the tissues of oily fish that are known to reduce inflammation throughout the body, and have other health benefits. A fast-growing body of evidence suggests that inflammation is perhaps the leading cause of most diseases. Several studies report possible anti-cancer effects of fish oil (particularly breast, colon and prostate cancer). Omega-3 fatty acids have reduced prostate cancer growth in genetically engineered mice.
The most widely available fish oil is cold water oily fish, such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines. Oils from these fish have a profile of around seven times as much omega-3 oils as omega-6 oils. Other oily fish, such as tuna, also contain omega-3 in somewhat lesser amounts. Although fish is a dietary source of omega-3, fish do not synthesize them; they obtain them from the algae (microalgae in particular) or plankton in their diets.
However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends limiting consumption of certain fish, including albacore tuna, shark, king mackerel, tilefish and swordfish due to high levels of toxic contaminants such as mercury, dioxin, PCBs and chlordane. That’s a key reason to take fish oil supplements, as purified fish oil supplements are readily available in most supermarkets.