What is Glutamate?
Glutamate functions as the major excitatory neurotransmitter and metabolic fuel throughout the body. Glutamate is produced in your body, and is also found in many foods.
Functions of Glutamate:
- Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that sends signals in the brain and throughout the nerves in the body.
- Glutamate plays an important role during brain development. Normal levels of glutamate also help with learning and memory.
Glutamate in food:
Glutamate is probably best known as “monosodium glutamate” or “MSG” which is used as a flavor or taste enhancer in food. It is usually available together with other food additives and spices in most large food stores. Some people may also have heard the term “Chinese restaurant syndrome” which is a sudden fall in blood pressure with subsequent fainting after ingestion of very spicy food.
High levels of Glutamate:
Glutamate is high in celiac disease and hyperthyroidism. Clinically, high glutamate is suspected in anxiety, autism spectrum disorder, depression and sleep issues.
Low levels of Glutamate:
Glutamate is low in patients with migraines. Clinically, low glutamate is implicated in depression, chronic fatigue, lack of concentration, low energy levels, and sleep disturbances.
- Marko AM, Gerrard JW, Buchan DJ. Glutamic acid derivatives in adult celiac disease. II. Urinary total glutamic acid excretion. Can Med Assoc J 1960;83:1324-5. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13766911)
- Belanger R, Chandramohan N, Misbin R, Rivlin RS. Tyrosine and glutamic acid in plasma and urine of patients with altered thyroid function. Metabolism 1972;21:855-65. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/5057275)
- Ragginer C, Lechner A, Bernecker C, et al. Reduced urinary glutamate levels are associated with the frequency of migraine attacks in females. Eur J Neurol 2012;19:1146-50. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22435925)
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