Glutathione is a natural antioxidant produced by the body that plays several important roles in maintaining good health. It is a tripeptide comprised of three amino acids: glutamine, glycine, and cysteine.
Glutathione helps neutralize oxidative stress in the body. As a result, it is commonly referred to as “the master antioxidant.” Glutathione is also involved in detoxifying harmful substances in the body and regulating the immune system.1,2
Stresses on the body, such as poor nutrition, smoking, sleep deprivation, and environmental toxins, as well as aging, can cause reduced glutathione levels, potentially increasing your risk of disease.
Free radicals can cause damage to cells. Free radicals are highly reactive byproducts of metabolism. These unpaired electrons bind to DNA and cell structures, changing their structure and function. Glutathione exists in an oxidized form (GSSG) and a reduced form (GSH). In its reduced form, glutathione donates an electron to inflammation-causing free radicals to neutralize their effect. After losing its electron, glutathione is said to be oxidized. It can be recycled back to its reduced form. The ability to recycle oxidized glutathione to reduced glutathione is impaired when your body is under chronic stress.3 The ratio of oxidized (GSSG) to reduced glutathione (GSH) can provide an estimate of oxidative stress and its impact on your health.4
Many factors can increase oxidative stress, including5,6
Glutathione is a natural antioxidant produced by the body that plays several important roles in maintaining good health. Some of the potential benefits of glutathione include7
It is important to note that more research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits of glutathione and to determine its safety and effectiveness as a treatment for various conditions.
Glutathione depletion is associated with several medical conditions, including2,8,9
Injections of glutathione are sometimes used as a treatment for a variety of conditions, including liver disease, cancer, and Parkinson’s disease. Some people also use glutathione injections as a way to improve skin health and lighten the skin.
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, researchers reported that participants taking either reduced or oxidized forms of glutathione had reduced sun damage and wrinkles and decreased hyperpigmentation. They also noted increased skin elasticity.10
While glutathione is generally recognized as safe (GRAS), there is a potential for side effects to occur. Some possible side effects of glutathione injections may include the following:
Glutathione supplementation has not been adequately studied for its side effects in people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Glutathione is produced naturally in three ways:8
Glutathione is also naturally available in foods and drinks, such as:2,11
Another option is to consume the precursors of glutathione, such as N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), L-glutathione, and L-glycine are available in capsule form.
A randomized controlled trial showed that daily consumption of glutathione supplements was effective in increasing cellular glutathione.12 Glutathione is available as a supplement in the following forms:13,14
There is some debate on the effectiveness of oral glutathione, as digestive enzymes in the stomach may break it down.2
Glutathione injections are prescription only. Talk to an Invigor Medical specialist to determine whether glutathione supplements are right for you.
Looking to purchase glutathione? See how Invigor Medical can help today!
While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.
1. Wu G, Fang Y-Z, Yang S, Lupton JR, Turner ND. Glutathione Metabolism and Its Implications for Health. The Journal of Nutrition. 2004;134(3):489-492. doi:10.1093/jn/134.3.489
2. Minich DM, Brown BI. A Review of Dietary (Phyto)Nutrients for Glutathione Support. Nutrients. 2019;11(9):2073. doi:10.3390/nu11092073
3. Marí M, Morales A, Colell A, García-Ruiz C, Fernández-Checa JC. Mitochondrial glutathione, a key survival antioxidant. Antioxid Redox Signal. Nov 2009;11(11):2685-700. doi:10.1089/ars.2009.2695
4. Shaik IH, Mehvar R. Rapid determination of reduced and oxidized glutathione levels using a new thiol-masking reagent and the enzymatic recycling method: application to the rat liver and bile samples. Anal Bioanal Chem. May 2006;385(1):105-13. doi:10.1007/s00216-006-0375-8
5. Kanagasabai T, Ardern CI. Inflammation, Oxidative Stress, and Antioxidants Contribute to Selected Sleep Quality and Cardiometabolic Health Relationships: A Cross-Sectional Study. Mediators Inflamm. 2015;2015:824589. doi:10.1155/2015/824589
6. Flora SJ, Mittal M, Mehta A. Heavy metal induced oxidative stress & its possible reversal by chelation therapy. Indian J Med Res. Oct 2008;128(4):501-23.
7. Circu ML, Aw TY. Glutathione and modulation of cell apoptosis. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – Molecular Cell Research. 2012/10/01/ 2012;1823(10):1767-1777. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbamcr.2012.06.019
8. Pizzorno J. Glutathione! Integr Med (Encinitas). Feb 2014;13(1):8-12.
9. Labarrere CA, Kassab GS. Glutathione: A Samsonian life-sustaining small molecule that protects against oxidative stress, ageing and damaging inflammation. Front Nutr. 2022;9:1007816. doi:10.3389/fnut.2022.1007816
10. Weschawalit S, Thongthip S, Phutrakool P, Asawanonda P. Glutathione and its antiaging and antimelanogenic effects. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2017;10:147-153. doi:10.2147/ccid.S128339
11. Gould RL, Pazdro R. Impact of Supplementary Amino Acids, Micronutrients, and Overall Diet on Glutathione Homeostasis. Nutrients. May 11 2019;11(5)doi:10.3390/nu11051056
12. Richie JP, Jr., Nichenametla S, Neidig W, et al. Randomized controlled trial of oral glutathione supplementation on body stores of glutathione. Eur J Nutr. Mar 2015;54(2):251-63. doi:10.1007/s00394-014-0706-z
13. Schmitt B, Vicenzi M, Garrel C, Denis FM. Effects of N-acetylcysteine, oral glutathione (GSH) and a novel sublingual form of GSH on oxidative stress markers: A comparative crossover study. Redox Biol. Dec 2015;6:198-205. doi:10.1016/j.redox.2015.07.012
14. Buonocore D, Grosini M, Giardina S, et al. Bioavailability Study of an Innovative Orobuccal Formulation of Glutathione. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. 2015/11/16 2016;2016:3286365. doi:10.1155/2016/3286365