Glutathione is a compound that is rarely ever mentioned during normal conversations, but it is a very important antioxidant and plays a key role in your overall health and in the functionality of your body. In the healthcare industry, glutathione is called "the mother of all antioxidants," and is a highly regarded daily supplement. Here, we will learn all about glutathione as an immune booster, how it is integral to your health, and why you should be taking it as a daily supplement.
What Is Glutathione?
Glutathione is a peptide that contains amino acids which are required and used by every cell in your body. Because of this, glutathione has several critical roles in the human body. Glutathione contains the amino acids glycine, glutamate (glutamic acid) and cysteine. Cysteine is an amino acid found in breast milk and is responsible for boosting the immune system. Glycine is an important amino acid in that it is integral to the synthesis of other amino acids and helps your body absorb calcium. Glycine also has a myriad of other health benefits. Glutamate is essential to the functionality of our brain for it is the principal neurotransmitter for the nerve cells in our brains so they may send signals to other nerve cells. Glutathione is produced by the liver as a normal function of the liver. Glutathione is also introduced to the body through a healthy diet or through supplements such as IGF-1 Plus with Glutathione.
The Science of Glutathione
This potent antioxidant compound and detoxifying agent is produced in the cytoplasm of the cells in the human body. Approximately 25% of all the body’s glutathione resides in the liver, to aid in its role of detoxification. Glutathione can also be found concentrated in the kidneys and in mucosal secretions of the intestinal lining and lungs. It is present inside cells and in extracellular fluids. A tripeptide molecule, Glutathione is composed of the amino acids glutamate, cysteine, and glycine. It exists in at least four different forms within the human body, including a reduced form, an oxidized form, a disulfide cysteine-containing form, and a protein-bound form. The pool of glutathione in the human body is constantly in flux, transforming between forms as well as being split into its components and synthesized again.
The reduced form of glutathione (GSH) is the biologically active form that has earned glutathione its reputation as the body’s most important antioxidant. GSH contains a thiol group (—SH), making it an effective electron donor to neutralize lipid peroxides, hydrogen peroxide, and other reactive oxygen species(1).
How Can Glutathione Help Improve My Health?
Physiological Benefits of Glutathione(1)
- Protects against oxidative stress
- Detoxifies chemicals and toxins
- Increased immune functions
- Supports healthy aging
- Regenerates other antioxidants like Vitamins C and E
Glutathione is such an important antioxidant to the human body that a scientific study suggests that the abundance of glutathione in the cells can help predict the life expectancy of that human. The reason the amount of glutathione in cells can benefit life expectancy is the fact that glutathione helps protect cells from something called oxidative stress and protecting cells from oxidative stress can prolong the health and life of cells and of the human body. Glutathione can also help repair cells that were damaged by radiation, pollutants, stress, infection, and a range of other ailments. Surprisingly enough, glutathione can also slow the process of aging in the cells. As we age, our cells begin to lose their ability to self-repair and to produce strong antioxidants. Increasing our intake of glutathione can help replenish or replace the antioxidants lost from aging and slow down the aging and deterioration of our cells and aid in the self-repair of the cells to prolong their functionality and lifespan.
As an antioxidant, glutathione removes oxygen radicals from the body which can harm other cells in the body and cause disease and deterioration. While vitamins C and E are also antioxidants, glutathione has the added benefit of already living within each of your cells allowing it to be perfectly placed to do its job. Glutathione can also act as a defensive agent against xenobiotics, foreign substances in the human body, such as pollutants, drugs, carcinogens, and other foreign substances.
Because the abundant presence of glutathione is essential to the reduction of oxidative stress, when glutathione levels become low, it leaves the cells in your body susceptible to the consequences of unchecked oxidative stress. These consequences could culminate in a range of different diseases including Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and Huntington's disease. Glutathione will also be a beneficial compound for those who suffer from a compromised immune system or an immunodeficiency. Because of these serious health consequences, it is important to maintain healthy glutathione levels, but that can sometimes be challenging. Your glutathione levels could be lower than is healthy. It is possible to suffer from a glutathione deficiency, especially in those who are older.
Benefits of Oral Glutathione
In prior decades, it was thought that oral glutathione (glutathione pills) had little to no systemic availability. The size of the molecule was thought to preclude absorption, making oral glutathione ineffective. In 2015, a study published by the European Journal of Nutrition dramatically challenged the prevailing belief about the oral efficacy of glutathione.
The study showed unprecedented results when, after taking 250mg glutathione dosages for six months, subjects showed increased glutathione levels by 17% in whole blood and by 29% in erythrocytes. Taking 1000mg glutathione per day increased glutathione levels by 31% in whole blood, by 35% in erythrocytes, and by 250% in buccal cells.(1)
Do I Have A Glutathione Deficiency?
As a medical standard, glutathione levels in individual cells begin to decline at a rate of 10% per decade of age after age 20. Around the age of menopause is when body cells deteriorate enough from aging that their levels of glutathione begin to decline at an increased rate. But age isn't the only factor to consider when looking at a glutathione deficiency and if you need glutathione pills.
As we've previously learned, glutathione acts as a protective agent against xenobiotics such as pollutants, drugs, and viruses. In our normal daily life, we, as human beings, are exposed to multiple factors that deplete our glutathione levels at a constant rate. The factors that cause our glutathione levels to be depleted include environmental pollution, viruses, various types of smoke, and exhaust fumes. All of these factors enter our bodies as xenobiotics and trigger the defensive properties of the glutathione in our cells. This isn't generally detrimental to our health. After all, acting as a defensive agent against xenobiotics is one of the main jobs of glutathione.
Glutathione deficiency becomes a concern when we don't replenish our levels of glutathione, either by producing it naturally, consuming foods that contain it, or taking glutathione pills. There are multiple ways to restore our glutathione levels if we cannot produce it in large enough amounts to maintain healthy levels.
There are also genetic defects that can cause a glutathione deficiency. These defects include either a genetic mutation or a missing gene. This can occur in the genes which regulate and produce glutathione enzymes and affect the metabolism of cysteine, folate, and B vitamins.
Some common symptoms of a glutathione deficiency include:
- Frequent colds
- Sleep disorders
- Dry skin
- Joint pain
- Lack of energy
- Mental "fog"
- Coordination problems
Some more serious symptoms of a glutathione deficiency include the rupturing of red blood cells, impairment of the functions of white blood cells, possible deterioration of nerve tissue, and it could even result in the suffering of mental or nervous disorders such as tremors or twitching. If you suspect that you have a glutathione deficiency, consult your physician to confirm the deficiency before beginning any type of glutathione supplement regiment.
How Can I Increase My Glutathione Levels?
There are supplement options on the market like IGF-1 Plus with Glutathione that can be taken orally to increase low glutathione levels and boost your immune system. Glutathione pills have been shown to not inhibit the body’s endogenous production of glutathione.
Maintaining your glutathione supplement regimen is essential to maintaining the benefits. Studies have shown that glutathione levels may return back to normal after a one month period of halting oral glutathione supplements, however, these studies also show that oral glutathione supplements have been effective in boosting Glutathione levels.(1)
Diet is the most natural way to raise glutathione levels. Eating wholesome, natural, and organic foods rich in glutathione and cysteine on a daily basis will replenish your glutathione levels and provide the nutrients your body needs to absorb the glutathione and cysteine. If you find yourself with a compromised immune system, you should seriously consider stocking your fridge with glutathione- and cysteine-rich foods to help give your immune system a strong, healthy boost.
Sulfur-rich vegetables are the best way to naturally boost your glutathione levels and your immune system.
When it comes to fruits, you want fruits that are high in vitamin C as well as contain healthy amounts of glutathione because vitamin C will help your body better absorb the glutathione.
Please remember that cooking any of these fruits will destroy the glutathione. A raw grapefruit has 70 mg of glutathione while a cooked grapefruit has none. 100 grams of raw tomatoes have 166 mg of glutathione while cooked tomatoes have none. Eating them raw is the best way to obtain the glutathione.
You can also consume cysteine-rich foods to help boost your glutathione levels. Some examples are:
- Egg yolks
- Red peppers
- Whey germ
Learn More About Glutathione and Glutathione Supplements
If you have any questions about how glutathione and glutathione supplements can help to improve your health and boost your immune system, please reach out to our friendly and knowledgeable team.
We want to help you stay happy, healthy and reach your well-being goals!