Facts and Food Sources of Glutamic acid


Glutamic acid is a α-amino acid, with symbol Glu or E, is used by all living beings in protein biosynthesis. It is non-essential amino acid in humans which refers body could synthesize it. It is an excitatory neurotransmitter in vertebrate nervous system. It acts as precursor for synthesis of inhibitory gamma-aminobutyric acid in GABA-ergic neurons.

Glutamic acid has formula C5H89O4N. The molecular structure could be identified as HOOC-CH(NH2)-(CH2)2-COOH having two carboxyl groups –COOH and one amino group –NH2. In mildly acid and solid state water solutions, molecule estimate an electrically neutral zwitterion structure −OOC-CH(NH+3)-(CH2)2-COOH. It is encoded by codons GAG or GAA. Acid could lose one proton from second carboxyklk group for forming conjugate base, singly negative anion glutamate −OOC-CH(NH+3)-(CH2)2-COO−. This compound form is prevailed in neutral solutions. Glutamate neurotransmitter has a crucial role in neural activation. Anion is accountable for savory flavor of some foods and used in glutamate flavorings such as MSG.

L-isomer is the only form to be involved in protein synthesis and is one of 20 standard amino acids prevalent in animal proteins and required for normal functions in humans. Glutamic acid is accountable for human senses of taste called umami, adding to classical taste sensations of salty, sweet, bitter and sour.


Though they occur naturally in various foods, flavor contributions made by glutamic acid or other amino acids are identified scientifically in twentieth century. It was identified and discovered in 1866 by German chemist Karl Heinrich Ritthausen who treated wheat gluten with sulfuric acid. Japanese researcher of Tokyo Imperial University named Kikunae Ikeda in 1908 identified brown crystals remained after evaporation of large amount of kombu broth as glutamic acid. When these crystals tasted reproduced ineffable but undeniable flavor that he detected in various foods especially in seaweed. Then this flavor was termed umami by professor Ikeda. Then he patented method of mass producing crystalline salt of glutamic acid, monosodium glutamate.

Dietary Sources of Glutamic acid

Food name Weight (g) Glutamic acid (g)
Turkey 863 39
Lupins 180 15
Egg white 107 12
Cottonseed 149 12
Spirulina 112 9
Durum wheat 192 9
Almonds 143 8
Mung beans 207 8
Spelt 174 8
Couscous 173 7
Yardlong beans 167 7
Colby cheese 132 7
Swiss cheese 132 7
Winged beans 182 7
Kielbasa 370 6
Teff 193 6
Navy beans 208 6
Parmesan cheese 100 6
Kidney beans 184 6
Whelk 85 6


Health Benefits of Glutamic acid

Glutamic acid helps to obtain these health benefits:

  1. Brain health

Glutamic acid acts as a fuel for brain. Moreover, it provides energy to brain, stimulates mental alertness and enhance memory function. This amino acid has crucial role in cognitive function and some medical practitioners use its supplements to treat health conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is helpful for children having behavioral problems and facilitates concentration and better learning environment. Moreover, glutamic acid is helpful for treating health conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression and other mood associated problems. Study results shows that people with neuropsychological problems have unbalanced ratio and concentration of neurotransmitters. Low levels of GABA are related with severe depression, anxiety, neuroticism and manic mood states. Study shows that mice with aggressive behavior have low glutamic acid and GABA.

  1. Detoxify body

Glutamic acid helps to detoxify ammonia. Glutamic acid bonds to nitrogen atoms and creates glutamine. The conversion of glutamic acid to glutamine is the only way to eliminate toxic metabolic waste product which makes it crucial for healthy body.

  1. Strengthen immunity

Body uses glutamic acid for synthesizing glutathione which is an effective antioxidant in the body. Glutathione is essential for neutralizing free radicals, protects cells and enhance immune system.

  1. Healthy heart

Research shows that glutamic acid helps to protect heart in patients having heart disease. In form of monosodium glutamate, glutamic acid promotes exercise tolerance and improves function of heart when injected intravenously in patients having stable angina pectoris. It also helps to lower chest pain which is commonly related with coronary heart disease.

  1. Prostate health

Glutamic acid has a crucial role to facilitate normal function of prostate. High concentration of glutamic acid is found in prostate fluid. As the men ages, prostate gland begins to enlarge and this condition is known as benign prostatic hyperplasia. It is recommended to use glutamic acid supplements to lower symptoms of this condition.

  1. Muscle health

Glutamate assists body for production of glutathione during exercise. This promotes muscular function and speed up post workout recovery. It is essential for producing energy when muscles burn during or after workout.

  1. Gut health

Glutamate obtained through diet is used by gut cells as the primary source of fuel. It is crucial for production of amino acids in intestinal tract. The consumption of glutamate in food helps to stimulate movement and promotes serotonin levels in gut. It activates vagus nerve which helps to secrete serotonin. This raises core temperature and speeds up production of energy after meals. Glutamate is also required for glutathione production. It is an essential antioxidant produced in body. This amino acid helps to lower the chances of ulcers by protecting stomach lining from bacteria named H-pylori.

  1. Provides satiety

Glutamate sends signal to body that one is getting adequate amino acids in meals which transmit feeling of satiety which lowers appetite effectively.

  1. Bone health

Glutamate is an essential component for bones. It prevents body from forming osteoclasts. The cells which decline bone tissue and could be effective in curing bone problems such as osteoporosis. In order to get strong and healthy bones, one should consume more foods rich in glutamate.

Deficiency of Glutamic acid

Insufficient amounts of Glutamic acid results life threatening brain conditions.


The therapeutic dose for Glutamic acid is 3 to 30 grams per day. Yet it is recommended to consume upto 14 grams regularly.

Side effects of Glutamic acid

Excess Glutamic acid causes overstimulation of nerve receptors and results neurological disorders such as epilepsy and Lou Gehrig’s disease. It may interfere with anti-epileptic medications.










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