What is Glutathione?

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM Published on , Last Updated on

A bowl of broccoli. Glutathione purpose is to protect cells from oxidative stress and damage, mainly via its antioxidant properties.Although no one has quite discovered an answer to the aging process, the quest for the fountain of youth continues to be pursued by many. The rise of nutritional supplements on the market directly reflects the increasing desire of consumers to appear and feel younger. Many of these supplements are used to support energy, vitality, and beauty, yet most of them fail to realize the one important youth-supporting compound available in each and every one of us — glutathione.

The Ultimate Antioxidant

The body is extremely intelligent and will do almost anything to maintain its health and wellbeing. Following an onslaught of oxidation, the body immediately steps in to protect its defenses. It produces glutathione, an antioxidant that comes in to neutralize free radicals. Amazingly, the toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis may drastically reduce the amount of glutathione our liver synthesizes. Our liver is the main detoxifying organ in the body and can become bogged down with everyday toxins, preventing the body from producing adequate amounts of glutathione. This is why regular cleansing, especially in today’s world, is so important.

What Does Glutathione Do?

The main action of glutathione is that of protecting cells from oxidative stress and damage, mainly via its antioxidant properties. The magic of glutathione also lies in its sulfur compounds. Researchers report that people who have lower levels of glutathione have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. [1] Low levels of glutathione have also been found in patients with autism spectrum disorder. [2]

No matter our age, every element of our health depends on the body’s ability to produce glutathione. It supports heart health and cognitive function, encourages healthy skin, strengthens immune defenses, and has been noted to increase strength and endurance. [3] [4] Regardless of these awesome benefits, the anti-aging properties of glutathione is something that has recently caught the eye of researchers.

Glutathione and Aging

Individuals with high glutathione levels tend to enjoy better health, greater energy, and a higher metabolism. A lot of what we call “aging” results from decreased cellular and organ function. As the body gets older, glutathione levels typically decrease. This can result in an increased susceptibility to metabolic stress, a factor that greatly accelerates the aging process. [5] Finding ways of increasing glutathione levels may be an excellent way to support health in the long run while possibly delaying the effects of aging.

Naturally Increase Glutathione

It is best to supplement with glutathione precursors to increase glutathione levels in the body. Eating sulfur-rich foods like onions, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower), spinach, and kale may be helpful for providing a starting point for the body to produce more glutathione. [6] Consuming bioactive whey protein, if you’re not vegan, appears to provide amino acids essential to glutathione synthesis. [7] [8] Regular exercise also stimulates glutathione production.

Have you ever heard of glutathione? What are your thoughts on this powerful antioxidant? Please let us know in the comments!

References (8)
  1. Shimizu H1, Kiyohara Y, Kato I, Kitazono T, Tanizaki Y, Kubo M, Ueno H, Ibayashi S, Fujishima M, Iida M. Relationship between plasma glutathione levels and cardiovascular disease in a defined population: the Hisayama study. Stroke. 2004 Sep;35(9):2072-7.
  2. Alabdali A, Al-Ayadhi L, El-Ansary A1. A key role for an impaired detoxification mechanism in the etiology and severity of autism spectrum disorders. Behav Brain Funct. 2014 Apr 28;10(1):14. doi: 10.1186/1744-9081-10-14.
  3. Lands LC1, Grey VL, Smountas AA. Effect of supplementation with a cysteine donor on muscular performance. J Appl Physiol (1985). 1999 Oct;87(4):1381-5.
  4. Nyberg M1, Mortensen SP2, Cabo H3, Gomez-Cabrera MC3, Via J3, Hellsten Y4. Roles of sedentary aging and lifelong physical activity in exchange of glutathione across exercising human skeletal muscle. Free Radic Biol Med. 2014 May 22;73C:166-173. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2014.05.008.
  5. Maher P. The effects of stress and aging on glutathione metabolism. Ageing Research Reviews. 2005 May;4(2):288-314.
  6. Chen MF, Chen LT, Boyce HW Jr. Cruciferous vegetables and glutathione: their effects on colon mucosal glutathione level and colon tumor development in rats induced by DMH. Nutrition and Cancer. 1995;23(1):77-83.
  7. Bounous G, Gold P. The biological activity of undenatured dietary whey proteins: role of glutathione. Clinical & Investigative Medicine. 1991 August;14(4):296-309.
  8. Kent KD, Harper WJ, Bomser JA. Effect of whey protein isolate on intracellular glutathione and oxidant-induced cell death in human prostate epilthelial cells. Toxicology in Vitro. 2003 February;17(1):27-33.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.


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