Glutamate is an amino acid neurotransmitter responsible for helping neurons communicate with each other and the rest of your body. Glutamate is considered excitatory, which means that it stimulates action. Glutamate is balanced in the brain by GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter.
Glutamate is crucial for memory and learning, and it is essential for the production of glutathione, aka the body’s master antioxidant. Glutamate is also a precursor to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
Glutamate is also a vital part of the developing brain and plays a role in amino acid metabolism.
Ideally, levels of glutamate and GABA in the brain balance each other out. However, sometimes glutamate levels exceed GABA levels.
Excess levels of glutamate are believed to be related to mood disorders (such as anxiety and depression) and neurodegenerative diseases (like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease).
Glutamate and its fellow neurotransmitter dopamine also appear to be related to schizophrenia.
Glutamate is found in many foods, like tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, and mushrooms. Additionally, monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a food additive made from glutamate.
Over the years, many people have been concerned over the role dietary glutamate and MSG could play in increasing levels of glutamate in the brain. However, research indicates that when you eat foods with glutamate in them, glutamate doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier.
One of the best ways to keep glutamate in check is to focus on glutamate inhibitors like turmeric, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids.