Glutathione is one of the body’s master antioxidants. It is not an essential nutrient and can be made from the amino acids L-cysteine, L-glutamic acid and glycine. It does require the use of ATP in the two-step process in making Glutathione. While all cells in the human body are capable of synthesizing glutathione, liver glutathione synthesis has been shown to be essential. Following birth, mice with genetically-induced loss of GCLC (i.e., Glutathione synthesis) only in the liver die within 1 month of birth.*
Supplementing Glutathione has been difficult. Research suggests that glutathione taken orally is not well absorbed across the GI tract. In a study of acute oral administration of a very large dose of oral glutathione, it was found that it is not possible to increase circulating glutathione to a clinically beneficial extent. But tissue and serum glutathione concentrations can be raised by increased intake of the precursor cysteine, or in chronic conditions, by S-adenosylmethione (SAMe). Glutathione precursors rich in cysteine include N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and undenatured whey protein. These supplements have been shown to increase glutathione content within the cell.
Our Glutathione level actually indicates our state of health and can predict longevity. Although there are more than 60,000 published papers on the beneficial effects of Glutathione replacement, it is still largely ignored by mainstream medicine. In the near future the importance of Glutathione will be widely recognized because it has the ability to boost the immune system and fight off the damage of free radicals on the cells.
So How Important is Glutathione?
Modern research has shown that individuals who have low levels of glutathione are susceptible to chronic illness. Decreased levels of glutathione can be brought about by continual stress upon the immune system. As we now know, a lowered immune system can bring about illness and disease. This is a ferocious cycle. While you need glutathione for a productive immune system, a weakened immune system hampers the production of glutathione.
Glutathione has been shown to slow down the aging process,
detoxify and improve liver function, strengthen the immune system, and reduce the chances of developing cancer. Glutathione also works to help improve mental functions, increase energy, improve concentration, permit increased exercise, and improve heart and lung function.
* Chen Y, et al. (2007). “Hepatocyte-specific GCLC deletion leads to rapid onset of steatosis with mitochondrial injury and liver failure”. Hepatology 45: 1118.