Glutamic Acid

What is Glutamic Acid?

Glutamic acid, an amino acid that occurs in considerable quantities as a product of protein hydrolysis. Much of that content may result from the presence of a related substance, glutamine, in proteins. When a protein is hydrolysed, glutamine is converted to glutamic acid. Glutamic acid was first extracted in 1865 and is an essential metabolic intermediate.


It is one of the numerous non-essential amino acids, i.e., it may be synthesised by animals from oxoglutaric acid (formed in carbohydrate metabolism) and does not necessitate dietary sources. Monosodium glutamate (MSG), a glutamic acid salt, is sometimes used as a flavouring condiment for foods.


Glutamic Acid Structure

Glutamic acid constitutes the amino group, the aliphatic amino acid, the α-carboxylic acid and the carboxylic acid side chain in its structure.


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Glutamic Acid Formula

Glutamic acid contains five atoms of carbon, nine atoms of hydrogen, four atoms of oxygen, and one atom of nitrogen. The chemical formula of glutamic acid is written as C5H9O4N. It has an atomicity of 19.


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Sources of Glutamic Acid

Glutamic acid can be found in various quantities in a diverse range of food items. Some of them have been enlisted below:

  • Glutamic acid's primary source incorporates high protein food items, including grains, dairy products, shrimp, beef, and poultry. These amino acids are often used as a flavouring substance to introduce to the consumer a distinct combination of tastes. 

  • Vegetable Glutamic acid sources include beets, spinach, parsley, wheat, kale, and wheatgrass.

  • Both legumes and beans are extremely protein-rich foods and deliver a substantial amount of glutamic acid.


Glutamic Acid Uses

  • Monosodium Glutamate

In the production of monosodium glutamate (MSG), commonly known as the 'seasoning salt,' glutamic acid is widely used. Global glutamic acid production is at 800,000 tonnes/year. Monosodium glutamate is a condiment and flavour enhancing agent and finds its greatest use in readymade foodstuffs as a common ingredient.


  • Treatment of Mental Disorders

This acid plays an important role in resolving both the behavioural disorders of childhood and personality disorders. It is also used to treat other diseases such as mental retardation, epilepsy, muscle dystrophy and ulcers. 


Treatment of Hypo-Glycemic Coma

It is used to treat hypoglycemic coma, which is a complication associated with diabetes insulin treatment.


Functions of Glutamic Acid

Glutamic Acid has a crucial role to play in the human body and has wide-ranging use from regulating metabolism to the health of our delicate organs. 


  • Metabolism

Glutamic acid plays a crucial role in the metabolism of cells. In the human body digestion breaks down dietary proteins into amino acids. Transamination is a key process in the degradation of amino acids. Glutamate also plays a vital role in the human body's disposal of the excess nitrogen. An important metabolic reaction performed with glutamic acid is given below. 


Glutamate + H2O + NADP → α-keto gluta-rate + NADPH + NH3 + H


  • Brain Processing

Glutamic acid serves as a high performing energy supply for the brain and enhances mental alertness. A lack of this amino acid may result in attention deficit disorder (ADD). Glutamic acid is the neurotransmitter produced most commonly in the brain and spinal cord. It plays an integral role in the central nervous system as an excitatory neurotransmitter. It helps regulate the number of ions, such as sodium, calcium, and magnesium. Medical practitioners suggest glutamic acid, as it mitigates behavioural problems to an extent and helps to enhance receptiveness to learning and new information.


  • Heart Functioning

Monosodium glutamate is a salt of glutamic acid which helps to improve the heartbeat mechanisms. It also helps to reduce pain in the chest associated with coronary heart disease.


  • Prostate Health

Glutamic acid contributes to maintaining regular prostate function. The prostate gland normally has a high concentration of glutamic acid.


  • Immune system Reinforcement and Detoxification

Glutamic acid is required to extract toxins created by the human body from toxic metabolic wastes. Mainly, glutamic acid conversion into glutamine is important for detoxifying ammonia.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are Amino Acids?

Amino acids are organic molecules which form a protein when coupled with other amino acids. Amino acids are important to life since nearly all of the cell functions involve proteins they create. Some proteins act as enzymes, while others act as antibodies, while others provide structural support. 


From a structural point of view, amino acids are constituted from a carbon atom, a hydrogen atom, a carboxyl group along with an amino group, and a variable group.


Although a large number of amino acids are found in nature, proteins are assembled from a set of 20 amino acids. Of these, the body can synthesise eleven by itself. These are called non-essential amino acids. The remaining nine need to be consumed from dietary sources and are called the essential amino acids.

2. Is Glutamic Acid Safe for Human Consumption?

Glutamic Acid is extensively used in food products in the form of MSG, i.e. Mono Sodium Glutamate. Glutamic Acid, Glutamate, and Glutamine are some of the most under-rated good dietary amino acids that are usually found in protein-rich foods. Though they are not considered essential parts of a diet, they play an important role during exercise to cater to the energy demand of the body.