There is an amazing antioxidant that many people are deficient in and that can be easily depleted by our modern lifestyle. It is the tripeptide Glutathione and it is the body’s most potent detoxifying and antioxidant agent.
What Is Glutathione?
Glutathione is a compound involved as a coenzyme in oxidation–reduction reactions in cells. It is a tripeptide derived from glutamic acid, cysteine, and glycine.
The body naturally produces it, though many people don’t make enough to counteract the modern factors that deplete it like stress, exposure to harmful chemicals and certain pharmaceutical drugs.
Benefits of Glutathione
Glutathione has been extensively studied for its ability to slow aging, reduce the chance of degenerative disease, improve mental performance and more.
Dr. Mark Hyman called it “the most important molecule you need to stay healthy and prevent aging, cancer, heart disease, dementia and more, and necessary to treat everything from autism to Alzheimer’s disease.”
It helps the body produce and recycle antioxidants, which is vital for maintaining cellular health. When it is depleted, this process is inhibited and free radicals can build up in the body.
Additionally, it binds with harmful chemicals, heavy metals and other toxins in the body and carries them into the bile and the stool so they are excreted. It has been used for helping those with immune disorders, autism, digestive disorders like colitis, cardiovascular diseases and other problems.
I personally have used it to help keep my autoimmune disease in check and to reduce inflammation when I have a flare. I also make sure to get enough food and supplemental sources of glutathione and its precursors when pregnant to avoid inflammation and cellular stress as much as possible.
As Dr. Ben Lynch explained in this podcast, those with gene mutations and impaired methylation have a higher chance of deficiency as these methylation nutrients are needed for glutathione production. I also supplement with L-MTHF and B-12 for this reason.
Sources of Glutathione
Glutathione is created in the body from glutamic acid, cysteine, and glycine. Taking these amino acids can help the body naturally produce more, but there are also some great food sources of these building blocks needed to make it:
- Onions and garlic
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Avocado and walnuts
- Poultry and egg yolks
- Non-denatured bioactive whey protein (not tolerated in all people)
It is interesting to note that these foods, especially the onions/garlic and green vegetables are a part of Dr. Terry Wahls protocol that she used to reverse her progressive MS and go from a wheelchair to riding her bike to work. These foods, along with her other suggested food of brightly colored vegetables are an excellent source of antioxidants and know to support cellular health.
Supplementing with Glutathione
In the past, it was assumed that it is impossible to supplement since the body breaks down proteins in the digestive process and oral glutathione would not be absorbed.
New forms, like liposomal glutathione, solve this problem, but it is still important to consume a nutrient rich diet that includes the building blocks of glutathione (especially from leafy greens and onions/garlic). I actually use a topical glutathione spray transdermally (on the skin) over my thyroid and it seems to help.
Some naturopathic doctors provide intravenous glutathione injections. This is an effective way to boost levels, though not available in many places.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Terry Wahls, a clinical professor of medicine and clinical researcher and has published over 60 peer-reviewed scientific abstracts, posters, and papers. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Have you ever used this or worked to increase your levels?