The Ultimate Guide To Glutathione Supplement Usages, Form, Food, Side Effect & Products
The ultimate guide to Glutathione Supplement medicinal and beauty uses, forms, food, dosage, side effect, precautions, interactions, clinical studies, products and general usage.
Coined “The Mother of All Antioxidants” by Mark Hyman, MD, glutathione is one of the hottest topics in both natural health and medical circles today. (1) Pronounced “gloota-thigh-own,” more than 116,000 peer-reviewed scientific articles have addressed this powerhouse molecule, and experts are now recognizing that an alarming rate of people are deficient because of:
- Pre-mature aging
- Chronic stress
- Environmental toxins
- So-called “health foods”
- Genetically modified foods
- Artificial sweeteners
- Overuse of antibiotics
- And radiation therapy that is all too easily given to cancer patients today.
This article on Glutathione supplement is part of Health2Wealth supplement education in preparation for the launch of #AfricanKitchen TV series. If you want to contribute to this content, suggest edit, feature as a consultant or retailer, please contact us. You can click on any of the main topics below to jump to that section.
What Is Glutathione?
Glutathione (GSH) is a peptide consisting of three key amino acids that plays several vital roles in the body. Longevity researchers believe that it is so pivotal to our health that the level of GSH in our cells is becoming a predictor of how long we will live! (2, 3, 4)
The key to understanding why GSH is so crucial for health is that every cell in our bodies produces it. In the words of Gustavo Bounous, MD, retired professor of surgery at McGill University in Montreal, “It’s the [body’s] most important antioxidant because it’s within the cell.” (5) Although it is absolutely essential to maintaining a healthy immune system, it is not technically an “essential nutrient” because the body from the amino acids can create it L-cysteine, L-glutamic acid, and glycine.
- Conjugates (“links together”) with drugs to make them more digestible.
- Is a cofactor (“helper molecule”) for some important enzymes including glutathione peroxidase (which protects you from oxidative damage).
- Is involved in protein disulfide bond rearrangement (which is critical for the biogenesis of 1/3 of all human proteins).
- Reduces peroxides (natural bleaching agents that are harmful to the body).
- Participates in leukotriene production (vital component for inflammatory and hypersensitivity reactions).
- Helps the liver detoxify fat before bile is emitted, which takes stress off of the gallbladder.
- Helps detoxifies methylglyoxal, a toxin produced as a by-product of metabolism.
- Cancer apoptosis (“programmed cell death”).
In addition to helping these vital functions continue in the body, the list of glutathione benefits is long and wide:
- Plays a crucial role in immune function. (8)
- Promotes T-cell function, which is critical for a strong immune system. (9)
- Helps prevent drug resistance. (7)
- Protects from environmental toxins (7)
- And it fights cancer (7)
Forms of Glutathione
Glutathione contains sulfur molecules, which may be why foods high in sulfur help to boost its natural production in the body. These foods include:
- cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and bok choy
- allium vegetables, such as garlic and onions
- lean protein, such as fish, and chicken
Other foods and herbs that help to naturally boost glutathione levels include:
- milk thistle
- guso seaweed
Benefits And Uses Of Glutathione
1) Glutathione Fights Oxidative Stress in the Body
Glutathione protects against chronic oxidative stress that can cause cancer, neurodegeneration, and a range of other diseases that we will discuss below [R].
2) Glutathione May Control Inflammation
Glutathione inhibits the production of most inflammatory cytokines [R].
Glutathione deficiency caused inflammation in the airways of mice. This inflammation was reduced when the mice were given glutathione [R].
Also, glutathione inhibits NF-κ, a transcription factor that increases the transcription of various inflammatory genes [R].
A number of pulmonary diseases are caused by excessive inflammation. In many of these diseases, restoring glutathione to a healthy level is protective, indirectly supporting the idea that glutathione is anti-inflammatory [R].
3) Glutathione Is Anti-Aging
With less glutathione, free radicals can harm the body and cause aging [R].
Replenishing glutathione levels can slow the aging process [R].
Imbalances in glutathione levels affect immune system function and are thought to play a role in the aging process [R].
Multiple studies have demonstrated that the body makes less glutathione as it ages [R].
Glutathione drops off during menopause, which may be part of the reason for the dramatic aging that occurs during this time in a woman’s life.
By maintaining glutathione levels, aging individuals may prevent age-related cognitive decline [R].
Decreased levels of glutathione in aging subjects caused oxidative stress, which can cause bone breaking and osteoporosis [R].
Myricitrin, a drug used in preventing age-related osteoporosis, may work by increasing levels of glutathione [R].
4) Glutathione May Prevent Depression and Stress
Also, glutathione is able to prevent shock-induced behavioral depression in animals [R].
A study on mice showed that alprazolam, a drug used to relieve stress, increased levels of glutathione in the mice [R].
5) Glutathione May Limit Neurodegeneration
The cells of the human brain consume about 20% of the oxygen utilized by the body but make up only 2% of the body’s weight. Reactive oxygen species are continuously generated during oxidative metabolism.
Therefore, the detoxification of reactive oxygen species is an essential task within the brain. Glutathione plays a key role in this process [R].
Alzheimer’s disease is in part caused by the oxidative stress that antioxidants neutralize, as demonstrated by clinical studies showing that oral vitamin E (powerful antioxidant) intake slowed the progression of Alzheimer’s [R].
To make matters worse, Alzheimer’s is characterized by accumulation of TDP-43 (a DNA binding protein) in the nervous system, which further lowers glutathione levels [R].
In mice, a protein that increases glutathione levels in the body was found to increase memory in subjects with Alzheimer’s [R].
Parkinson’s disease is caused, in part, by oxidative stress in the nervous system. Glutathione combats this oxidative stress.
Parkinson’s disease involves the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra part of the brain. Studies have noted that people in pre-clinical stages of Parkinson’s have low glutathione levels in the substantia nigra [R].
A study showed that a drug, named 3,4-dihydroxybenzalacetone, helped prevent Parkinson’s disease by increasing levels of glutathione [R].
Studies have shown that a special form of curcumin successfully helped improve mitochondrial health by increasing glutathione levels [R].
6) Glutathione May Help with Infections
In many diseases (e.g., AIDS, COPD, cystic fibrosis , influenza, and alcoholism), lowered immunity and increased risk of infections correlate to low glutathione levels [R].
Patients with tuberculosis have been shown to have low glutathione levels [R].
Glutathione depletion lowers the anti-infection activity of macrophages, while NAC (glutathione precursor) increased intracellular killing of mycobacteria [R].
Another study showed that the maintenance of cysteine levels, and thus glutathione levels, is important for enhancing mycobacterial killing activity [R].
7) Glutathione May Heal the Gut
Patients with IBS have decreased activity of enzymes involved in glutathione synthesis, as well as lower levels of glutathione’s precursor, cysteine [R].
Glutathione peroxidase is an important enzyme for the normal renewal of the gut wall [R].
Glutathione protects the intestinal mucosa. Administration of glutathione may protect the gut wall which, when weakened, can lead to leaky gut (R).
8) Glutathione May Treat Autism
Other abnormalities have been found in the transsulfuration pathway (the pathway where glutathione is produced) in children diagnosed with autism [R].
This includes lower levels of cysteine, the rate limiting substrate for glutathione production [R].
Oral and transdermal glutathione are currently being used to normalize glutathione levels in autistic children. Early studies indicate that this may improve some of the transsulfuration metabolites often low in autistic children [R].
9) Glutathione and Cancer
Glutathione is a major factor in the regulation of life, proliferation, and death of cancer cells [R].
Glutathione deficiency, or a decrease in the glutathione/glutathione disulphide (GSSG) ratio, leads to increased damage from oxidative stress involved in the progression of cancer [R].
There is significant correlation between increased glutathione intake and decreased risk of oral and throat cancer [R].
Furthermore, glutathione plays a key role in repairing damage done by cancer drugs on cells in chemotherapy patients [R].
Glutathione is crucial in the removal and detoxification of carcinogens. However, it should be noted that, by conferring resistance to a number of chemotherapeutic drugs, elevated levels of glutathione can actually protect tumor cells. Perfect balance is imperative [R, R].
10) Glutathione May Treat Psychiatric Disorders
Schizophrenics have low levels of glutathione. NAC, which increases glutathione levels in the brain, was shown to improve the symptoms of schizophrenia in human subjects [R].
Patients with OCD have low levels of glutathione in certain parts of their brain (e.g., lower posterior cingulate cortex) [R].
High levels of free radicals were found in the blood of patients with OCD. Reducing these levels by introducing glutathione may help reduce the severity of OCD symptoms [R].
Furthermore, glutathione may help to reduce stress, which is a major symptom, and possibly contributing factor, of OCD [R].
Multiple drugs used to treat bipolar disorder work by increasing glutathione levels [R].
11) Increasing Glutathione Levels May Help ADHD
Pycnogenol, a glutathione booster, was found to normalize antioxidant levels in children with ADHD [R].
12) Glutathione May Help in Preventing Heart Disease
Cardiovascular disease is largely caused by oxidative stress in heart tissues. Perhaps this is why insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, and diabetes (3 conditions that cause oxidative stress), are linked to heart attacks [R, R].
Glutathione can help in reducing these reactive species and, in turn, limit the risk of stroke or heart attack [R].
13) Glutathione May Treat Diabetic Complications
Diabetes II and high blood sugar cause the reduction of glutathione in the body [R].
Free radical accumulation causes many of the complications associated with diabetes type 2, such as cardiovascular problems and neurodegeneration [R].
Studies show introducing extra glutathione into the body prevents or limits these complications [R].
14) Glutathione May Prevent Kidney Disease
Oxidative stress in the kidneys can cause kidney failure [R].
Studies in rats have shown that the precursor of glutathione, NAC, can prevent kidney disease due to aspartame [R].
A study, which investigated 20 patients suffering from chronic renal failure and undergoing hemodialysis, found that supplemental glutathione resulted in a marked improvement in kidney function (as measured by red blood cells, plasma reduced glutathione, hematocrit, and hemoglobin) [R].
15) Glutathione Protects Against Liver Damage
Liver disease is caused by oxidative stress. Glutathione keeps the liver healthy by helping in reducing this oxidative stress in the liver [R].
The liver upregulates glutathione synthesis to combat the effects of a high-fat diet.
Oral administration of reduced glutathione (300mg/day) is effective at preventing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which can eventually lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer [R].
16) Glutathione May Help Prevent Addiction
Consumption of cocaine, methamphetamines, and alcohol lead to an increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS).
These species can alter proteins involved in neuronal and behavioral pathways, causing the subject to become addicted. By reducing the presence of these reactive species, glutathione may decrease the development of addictive behaviors [R, R].
This may also be applicable to overeating disorders [R].
17) Glutathione May Reduce Consequences of Drugs or Alcohol
Chronic alcohol use causes oxidative stress and reduces liver levels of glutathione [R].
Glutathione can reduce the effects of chronic use by decreasing the presence of reactive oxygen species (ROS) [R].
Glutathione improved liver function of alcoholics, but only when they abstained from alcohol use.
Chronic alcohol ingestion causes oxidative stress in the lungs which can often lead to respiratory infections such as pneumonia. Glutathione can protect the lungs by reducing oxidative stress [R].
18) Glutathione Controls Cell Death
Glutathione depletion is a key signalling event that controls the activation of cell death pathways. For example, S-glutathiolation in important for protein modulation and apoptotic (cell death) initiation [R, R].
Cells depleted of glutathione are susceptible to damage, especially from arachidonic acid. Studies show that low glutathione levels cause a series of events, which ultimately result in cell death [R].
19) Glutathione Can Help with Respiratory Issues
One study showed that low levels of glutathione increased inflammation and caused asthma in the airway [R].
The same study showed that increasing levels of glutathione decreased inflammation and reduced asthma in the airway [R].
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a lung disease caused by long-term oxidative damage to lung tissue, the damage of which results in inflammation of the lung tissue, causing shortness of breath and coughing [R].
Glutathione supplements can decrease this oxidative damage and tissue damage within the lungs , thereby reducing the risk of developing COPD [R].
20) Glutathione Can Treat Sleep Apnea
A study showed that glutathione levels were low in subjects who were diagnosed with sleep apnea, and that increasing those levels of glutathione to normal improved sleep quality in these patients [R].
21) Glutathione May Treat Acne
A decline in antioxidative activity, especially a decrease in glutathione quantity, may play a key role in the development of acne [R].
Increasing glutathione levels may help reduce acne by decreasing oxidative stress levels.
22) Glutathione May Help Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis
Studies have shown that antioxidant mechanisms can be impaired in subjects with rheumatoid arthritis. Glutathione levels were shown to be significantly lower in these patients [R].
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis have increased levels of glutathione peroxidase as a response to high levels of oxidative stress. It makes sense to supplement glutathione to ensure that these individuals can match this high demand for glutathione [R].
23) Glutathione Helps Prevent Glaucoma and Cataracts
Glaucoma and cataracts can gradually cause loss of vision. Both of these conditions are in part caused by oxidative stress to the ocular nerve, which glutathione may reduce [R].
24) Glutathione Encourages a Healthy Pregnancy
In pregnant women, low glutathione levels caused by depression may lead to impaired brain development in the unborn child [R].
Increased amounts of reactive oxygen species in a fetus have been linked to preterm labor. Thus, by reducing these oxygen species, glutathione can delay the onset of labor to a biologically healthier time [R].
25) Glutathione May Treat AIDS
A study showed that older AIDS patients produced lower levels of glutathione in their mitochondria [R].
NAC (glutathione’s precursor) blocks the stimulatory effect of TNF on HIV replication [R].
AIDS sufferers with glutathione deficiencies have decreased insulin sensitivity, and muscle strength. Introducing adequate glutathione effectively treats these issues [R].
Glutathione deficiency weakens the immune systems of AIDS patients with already weak bodies. Studies have shown that giving these individuals additional glutathione can rebalance their immune systems [R].
Introducing glutathione into the body decreases the chances of AIDS sufferers developing tuberculosis [R].
26) Glutathione May Treat Cystic Fibrosis
People with cystic fibrosis have low glutathione levels [R].
Cystic fibrosis causes the release of oxidative reactants in to inflammatory cells. Making matters worse, cystic fibrosis reduces levels of glutathione able to scavenge these reactants [R].
Glutathione inhalers can restore oxidant-antioxidant balance and reduce inflammation in those with cystic fibrosis [R].
More broadly, certain forms of buffered glutathione have been found to lower the symptoms of cystic fibrosis [R].
27) Glutathione Is a Skin Lightening Agent
This is because glutathione causes the production of a different type of melanin in skin cells [R].back to menu ↑
Glutathione Metabolism and Administration
Glutathione is made in the body from 3 amino acids: glutamate, cysteine, and glycine (making it a “tripeptide”). The glutathione produced in the body is broken down by an enzyme, GGT, on the surface of the cells before it can be trasnported to the inside of the cell [R]
However, when we ingest glutathione as a supplement, it has to pass the liver before it reaches the bloodsteam. The liver can contain high amounts of GGT, which can break down glutathone. This means that most oral forms of glutathione may not acheive the desired effects [R].
There are several ways to bypass this limitation, such as [R]:
- Liposomal glutathione [R]
- Sublingual glutathione (absorbed directly into the bloodstream) [R]
- Slow-release tablets dissolved in the mouth (orobuccal) or lozenges [R, R]
- Inhaled glutathone [R]
- Methyl glutathone, where another compound (the methyl group) is attached to glutathone, so GGT cannot degrade it [R]
- Coated glutathone tablets [R]
- IV glutathone is also available, but the safety has not been established [R]
New formulations of glutathione are being researched every day in the hopes of maximizing its concentration in the body.
Taking glutathione with vitamin C may also increase its absorption [R].back to menu ↑
Safety Side Effect & Precautions
Taking glutathione supplements during pregnancy or breastfeeding is not recommended.
Thirty-eight participants aged 21 to 62 were given oral glutathione (1,000mg a day) for 4 weeks. Side effects were limited, but included: Increased flatulence and loose stools (5 patients), flushing (2 patients), and weight gain (1 patient) [R].
Another study that gave glutathione to patients with cystic fibrosis found the following side effects: Chest tightness, diarrhea and fever. Of course, these results may not apply to the general population [R].
Taking glutathione long-term has been linked to lower zinc levels. Inhaled glutathione may also trigger asthma attacks in people who have asthma. Symptoms may include wheezing.
Glutathione promotes immune system function. It enhances T cell growth and activates mTOR [R].
When studies deplete glutathione, it reduces the inflammatory response, because it reduces the immune system response [R].
However, under inflammatory conditions, it often becomes more important to reduce the damage with an antioxidant like glutathione.
So glutathione can both be good and bad if someone has chronic inflammation. If you get negative side effects, it could be that it’s stimulating your immune system too much.
Also, these studies are relative exceptions; to date, glutathione supplements are known as safe. More research is undoubtedly needed on high-dose and long-term glutathione supplementation.back to menu ↑
Glutathione in Food
The picture above shows a number of foods that contain glutathione precursors. These are great additions to your diet, but we usually recommend supplementation to get a therapeutic and reliable dose.
Garlic, asparagus, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and kale boost glutathione levels as a result of their sulfur components.
Animal foods, which are higher in cysteine and methionine, can also help increase glutathione levels.back to menu ↑
Increasing Glutathione with Supplements
Out of three amino acids that glutathione is made from, cysteine is the most important; the amount of cysteine governs the speed and quantity of glutathione that can be made inside the cell. Here are some options for increasing cysteine:
NAC – dose usually 500 to 1,000mg/day
Selenium is important for maintaining healthy glutathione levels as it becomes a component of glutathione peroxidase in the body – the enzyme that helps neutralize free radicals.
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
R-Lipoic acid is one of the main boosters of glutathione levels in cells [R].
S-adenosyl-methionine is a supplement that contains methionine and can help boost glutathione levels.back to menu ↑
Dosing Of Glutathione
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- Healthcare providers give glutathione intravenously (by IV) along with chemical cancer treatments (chemotherapy) to reduce some of the unwanted side effects of the chemotherapy.
Featured Glutathione Supplement Products
You will find here list of top Glutathione supplement and products for medicinal and skin care uses.
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Glutathione Shop2Wellness Deals
Shop2Wellness promotion is part of Health2Wealth Wellness Campaign to promote preventive and holistic healthcare in Africa through nutritional supplementation, healthy dieting, public health education, healthy lifestyle, healthy wellness shopping, preventive health investment and cutting-edge wellness education.
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Glutathione Shop2Wellpreneur Deals
Shop2Wellpreneur promotion is part of Health2Wealth Wellness Campaign to promote preventive and holistic healthcare and wellness entrepreneurship in Africa through nutritional supplementation, healthy dieting, public health education, healthy lifestyle, healthy wellness shopping, preventive health investment and cutting-edge wellness education.
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Conclusion & Call For Contribution
Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that’s made in the body’s cells. Its levels decrease as a result of aging, stress, and toxin exposure. Boosting glutathione may provide many health benefits, including reduction of oxidative stress.
The Health2Wealth Team seeks contributions that tell stories about the use and benefit of Glutathione supplement. Be creative. Be inspiring. Be inclusive. In keeping with the theme, we will embrace creative proposals that demonstrate how research and theory directly impact and influence practice at all levels.
If you have a story to tell, go to submit testimony to leave your message for us.