Have you heard of glutathione?
It’s one of the most important molecules for preventing disease. Yet no one knows about it.
If you’ve never heard of it, you’re not alone. Many people are unaware of all of things this molecule does for our body and our health.
Glutathione is the “master” antioxidant that is produced by our cells. It is so important because it is housed within our cells.
In fact, research has revealed that the amount of glutathione in our cells could be one of the greatest predictors of how healthy we are.
Glutathione plays a role in all of our cellular processes and is one of the main factors that can determine our risk for disease. Due to this, it is one of the most researched health topics today.
Be sure to get tested for intracellular and extracellular levels of this vital antioxidant. Here in our office, we do the best testing in the world. We are interested in evaluating how much of the nutrients are getting into the cells (where they belong).
What is glutathione?
Glutathione has been coined the “mother of all antioxidants”. It is the number one antioxidant produced by our cells that helps to fight off harmful molecules called free radicals. It also plays a role in many of the biochemical reactions that occur in our body.
It is made up of three amino acids: cysteine, glutamate, and glycine.
Low levels of glutathione are associated with disease risk and poor health1.
Normally, glutathione levels are tightly regulated to ensure there is always an antioxidant balance in the body. Yet when there is a high level of toxins, stress, or some underlying disorder then the body becomes rundown and can’t properly recycle and regenerate its own glutathione. This is when disease risk is at its highest.
Levels of glutathione may be decreased due to a number of factors such as poor nutrition, low dietary protein intake, stress, toxins, and inflammation.
What are the 9 health benefits of glutathione?
- It is an antioxidant needed for detoxificationGlutathione is the body’s main cellular antioxidant. Its secret power is its sulfur (SH) chemical groups. These sulfur groups attract and bind toxins and harmful molecules that create oxidative stress and disease. Glutathione helps the body to bind and excrete toxins. It is the all-star player of our bodies internal detoxification systems.
- It boosts immunity and fights inflammationGlutathione is one of the most critical immune system molecules we have. It is needed to help the immune system fight off infection and inflammation. It can be thought of as the conductor of the immune system. The immune cells need a balanced level of glutathione at all times in order to function at their highest level2. Glutathione inhibits inflammation, and participates in innate and adaptive immunity mechanisms2. In many diseases, low glutathione levels are associated with an increased chance of infection2.
- It reduces oxidative stress and cellular damageHigh levels of oxidative stress are related to cell damage and chronic disease. Glutathione is an antioxidant that can ward off oxidative stress. It helps to reduce damage to cells by neutralizing harmful molecules (called free radicals).For example, research has shown that glutathione can decrease cell damage in diseases like alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease3.
- It can help with neuropathyGlutathione is an antioxidant that can reduce the inflammation and oxidative stress that is associated with neuropathy. It is also a metal chelator that can pull metals out and participate in detoxifying the body. Neuropathy is generally the result of either Diabetes complications or some sort of toxin that has damaged the nerves. One study showed that glutathione was an effective treatment for neuropathic pain associated with the toxic exposure as it stimulates aluminum chelation4.
- It is needed to heal leaky gut Glutathione is also the main antioxidant of intestinal epithelial cells. These cells protect the gut lining and help to ensure there is adequate impermeability. When the gut lining becomes permeable, leaky gut ensues and health problems arise. Studies have shown that the glutathione antioxidant is key to increasing the health of the gut barrier lining and helping to prevent intestinal cell death5.
- It protects against cancerGlutathione also helps the body stimulate apoptosis or death of cancer cells. In fact, cells that are deficient in glutathione are more susceptible to oxidative stress and cancer6. Increased oxidative stress and subsequent damage is strongly correlated with increased risk and progression of cancer. Staving off oxidative stress can decrease disease development.
- It can help patients with Alzheimer’s diseaseOne of the main factors in the development of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease is oxidative stress. Studies have also found decreased levels of the brain’s major antioxidant, glutathione to be linked to Alzheimer’s pathology7. Additionally, new research has elucidated the potential, beneficial role of raising the internal level of glutathione in the brain through N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) as a therapy in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease8.
- It protects the heartSince glutathione is the main cellular antioxidant, the cells (including cardiac cells) need it for proper functioning. One study found that low levels of glutathione in cardiac and body cells is linked to increased chances of structural abnormalities of the heart and an increased risk for heart disease9.Additionally, in people with peripheral artery disease, glutathione can improve circulation and help them to walk further without pain10.
- 9. It is associated with a lower risk of Type 2 DiabetesGlutathione deficiency has also been implemented in the development of Type 2 Diabetes11. Overtime, diabetes complications can contribute to an increased risk for heart disease. Another study found that a treatment of glutathione and nitric oxide resulted in increased insulin sensitivity12, which is protective.
What is the best way to increase levels of glutathione?
You can get glutathione in many different forms: orally, intravenously, topically and through inhalation.An oral supplement like the glutathione precursor, N-acetyl-L-cysteine, is often best as it can boost internal reserves in the cells over time.Sometimes, intravenously works best. We offer customized IV’s like glutathione in the office too.
- Consume sulfur-rich foods and non-denatured whey protein, both of which are rich in cysteine and can boost glutathione. Pellegrino water in glass is a great source of sulfur. Other sulfur foods include eggs, onion, and garlic.
- Exercise increases glutathione levels
What are the best supplements to boost glutathione naturally?
Taking straight glutathione is not very effective in raising levels of it internally.
Research has found that taking precursors like N-acetyl-L-cysteine is the best way to internally boost glutathione concentrations in the body.
Precursors to raising glutathione include but are not limited to:
- N-acetyl-L-cysteine (the best)
- Alpha-lipoic acid
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Methylation support nutrients
Do you need to supplement?
Glutathione levels naturally decrease with age. They also decrease with leaky gut, inflammation and oxidative stress. And in people who are poor methylators and have high homocysteine levels also rapidly diminish. Certain health conditions like cancer, Type 2 diabetes, hepatic disease and others will also deplete glutathione concentrations in the body. Lastly, a lack of sleep can also deplete glutathione stores.
Try our Glutathione Boost, which has 500 mg of N-acetyl-L- cysteine per capsule. This builds up cysteine stores in order to have glutathione reserves whenever needed.
We also offer Liposomal Glutathione. This type has a liposomal shell around the nutrient to enable the highest and faster level of absorption possible.
What are foods that help to produce glutathione?
It should be noted that the body is not efficient in absorbing glutathione from foods. It would take a lot of food and a very long time to effectively raise your glutathione levels. Still, though, it is beneficial to supplement and consume glutathione-rich foods at the same time.
Glutathione-rich foods are sulfur-rich foods. Sulfur is needed to synthesize glutathione in the body. Specifically, sulfur compounds create cysteine, which helps to naturally increase glutathione levels.
- Whey protein
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower
- Organ meats like grass-fed beef liver
- Other supplements like milk thistle
Summary of information:
- Glutathione is the body’s most powerful cellular antioxidant. It is needed for the body to function and carry out its daily tasks. It also protects the body from disease.
- Glutathione provides many health benefits. Most notably, it reduces inflammation and oxidative stress, protects the heart, wards of disease and helps keep the body’s cells healthy and fully functioning.
- Glutathione levels naturally decrease over time and supplementation is needed for best results. Find a high quality N-acetyl-L-cysteine. The science has shown that this is the best way to significantly raise internal levels of this antioxidant in the body’s cells and keep them sustained long-term.
- Shimizu et al., 2004: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15256685
- Ghezzi, 2011: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3048347/
- Sacco et al., 2016: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27603810
- Lee et al., 2017: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5375987/
- Kelly et al., 2004: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15349102
- Traverso et al., 2013: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23766865
- Sumiti et al., 2013: https://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease/jad132483
- Pocernich et al., 2012: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3277671/
- Damy et al., 2009: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2655715/
- Arosio et al., 2002: https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(11)62019-3/abstract
- Kalkan et al., 2013: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3817774/
- Guarino et al., 2006: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16491098