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The Power Of Glutathione: What Exactly Is Glutathione?

Mar 25, 2023
The Power Of Glutathione: What Exactly Is Glutathione?

Antioxidants like glutathione protect your body from harmful byproducts of metabolism, toxins, environmental pollutants, and other threats. Glutathione is naturally produced in the liver and nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. It is a small peptide made up of glycine, L-cysteine, and L-glutamate.

What Does Glutathione Do To The Body?

Glutathione is found in all your body tissues and has many important benefits for your health, including:

  • Supporting immune function
  • Detoxifying chemicals, pollutants, and drugs
  • Regulating cell division and death
  • Supporting DNA production and repair
  • Protecting your body from oxidative stress
  • Neutralizing free radicals
  • Lowering inflammation
foods high in anti-oxidants

What Are The Symptoms Of Low Glutathione?

Glutathione is created naturally in our body through three processes:1,2

  • De novo synthesis, which is making glutathione from its precursor amino acids: L-cysteine, glycine, and L-glutamate
  • Recycling of reduced glutathione (GSH) by glutathione reductase, alternating between accepting and donating electrons
  • The reuse of cysteine to form glutathione via gamma-glutamyl transferase

Glutathione levels in your body cells will inevitably decrease as you age, and the stresses of everyday life can lead to a glutathione deficit even faster.3 Glutathione deficit is common. To fill this gap, many people opt for glutathione supplements.

Symptoms associated with low glutathione levels include:

  • Weight gain
  • Male infertility
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections
  • Skin damage
  • Joint and muscle aches
The Power Of Glutathione: What Exactly Is Glutathione?

Is Glutathione Safe For Everyone To Take?

There is not enough research on glutathione dosages, the effects of overdosage, or stopping glutathione. Despite being generally recognized as safe, glutathione may cause side effects. It is possible that glutathione injections may lead to the following:4

  • Nausea and vomiting: Glutathione injections can cause stomach upset and vomiting.
  • Allergic reactions: If you are allergic to glutathione or any of its components, you may develop a rash, have difficulty breathing, and have swelling of the face, tongue, throat, or lips.
  • Blood clotting problems: Glutathione injections may interfere with blood clotting, increasing the risk of bleeding and bruising. A long-term phase 4 study has not found an increased bleeding risk after using glutathione.
  • Rash or irritation at the injection site: Irritation from the medication or preservatives can cause redness, pain, or swelling.
  • Kidney and liver problems: Excessive glutathione consumption may result in kidney or liver dysfunction.

Glutathione supplementation has not been adequately studied for its potential side effects in people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you supplement with glutathione long-term, ask about getting your zinc levels checked. Prolonged glutathione supplement use has been associated with decreased zinc levels.5 Oysters are rich in zinc. Red meat, poultry, legumes, nuts, and dairy products are excellent sources of zinc.

foods and supplements in boosting antioxidants

What Food Is Highest In Glutathione?

Consuming glutathione-rich foods and having it readily available for your body tissues to use is challenging because it is digested in the intestine, hard to absorb through the intestines, and metabolized in the liver. However, consuming nutritious foods high in glutathione’s precursor amino acids is a great way to give your body the leucine, L-glutamate, and L-cysteine it needs to produce glutathione naturally.

Foods high in glutathione or its precursor amino acids include:

  • Poultry
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Seeds and nuts

Overall, people consume plenty of glutathione in their diets. In one study, participants had a mean daily glutathione intake of 34.8mg, ranging from 13 to 109.9mg. Fruits and vegetables contributed over 50% of the usual dietary glutathione intake, whereas meats contributed less than 25%. However, the amount of glutathione consumed in the diet does not directly correlate with the amount available in body tissues because much of it is metabolized before it can be used.

Correlations between dietary and tissue Glutathione were higher in people with elevated levels of vitamin C, suggesting that glutathione and vitamin C rich foods should be consumed together.6   Like glutathione, vitamin C is an antioxidant. Supplementing with it can help conserve glutathione. Selenium is a glutathione cofactor and an essential mineral. It can also help enhance glutathione function.

Glutathione has numerous health benefits, as evidenced by its clinical use. If you have any questions about glutathione or are wanting to buy glutathione, please get in touch with one of the treatment specialists at Invigor Medical.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main function of glutathione?

The main function of glutathione is to act as a powerful antioxidant in the body. It helps neutralize harmful free radicals, which are molecules that can damage cells and contribute to aging, diseases, and various health issues. Glutathione also plays a crucial role in detoxification processes, aiding in the removal of harmful substances such as pollutants, heavy metals, and drugs from the body.

Why is glutathione so powerful?

Glutathione is considered powerful due to its multifaceted roles in maintaining cellular health and combating oxidative stress. Its ability to neutralize free radicals and support detoxification processes makes it a potent antioxidant. Glutathione also interacts with other antioxidants in the body, such as vitamin C and vitamin E, regenerating them and enhancing their effectiveness. Additionally, glutathione’s presence in nearly every cell of the body underscores its importance in various physiological functions, contributing to its powerful status.

What happens to your body when you start taking glutathione?

When you start taking glutathione supplements, your body may experience various effects depending on individual factors and the reason for supplementation. Some potential effects may include improved antioxidant defense, enhanced detoxification, brighter skin complexion (in the case of skin lightening supplements), and potential support for immune function. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting glutathione supplementation to ensure safe and appropriate usage.

Who should not take glutathione?

Glutathione supplements may not be suitable for everyone. Individuals who have allergies to glutathione or any of its components should avoid taking it. Additionally, those with certain medical conditions or who are taking specific medications should consult with a healthcare professional before starting glutathione supplementation to ensure safety and avoid potential interactions. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also consult with a healthcare provider before taking glutathione supplements to determine safety for themselves and their babies.

Disclaimer
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.

The Power Of Glutathione: What Exactly Is Glutathione?

Leann Poston, M.D.

Dr. Leann Poston is a licensed physician in the state of Ohio who holds an M.B.A. and an M. Ed. She is a full-time medical communications writer and educator who writes and researches for Invigor Medical. Dr. Poston lives in the Midwest with her family. She enjoys traveling and hiking. She is an avid technology aficionado and loves trying new things.

References

  • Pizzorno J. Glutathione! Integr Med (Encinitas). 2014 Feb;13(1):8-12. PMID: 26770075; PMCID: PMC4684116.
  • Noctor G, Queval G, Mhamdi A, Chaouch S, Foyer CH. Glutathione. Arabidopsis Book. 2011;9:e0142. doi: 10.1199/tab.0142. Epub 2011 Feb 18. PMID: 22303267; PMCID: PMC3267239.
  • Lang CA, Naryshkin S, Schneider DL, Mills BJ, Lindeman RD. Low blood glutathione levels in healthy aging adults. J Lab Clin Med. 1992 Nov;120(5):720-5. PMID: 1431500.
  • Weschawalit S, Thongthip S, Phutrakool P, Asawanonda P. Glutathione and its antiaging and antimelanogenic effects. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2017;10:147-153
  • Steiger MG, Patzschke A, Holz C et al. Impact of glutathione metabolism on zinc homeostasis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, FEMS Yeast Research, Volume 17, Issue 4, June 2017, fox028
  • Flagg EW, Coates RJ, Eley JW, Jones DP, Gunter EW, Byers TE, Block GS, Greenberg RS. Dietary glutathione intake in humans and the relationship between intake and plasma total glutathione level. Nutr Cancer. 1994;21(1):33-46. doi: 10.1080/01635589409514302. PMID: 8183721.

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