Glutathione: The Power of ‘master antioxidant’

Glutathione's health benefits are vast and varied, as one of the most powerful antioxidants and detoxifying substances found in the human body. Unfortunately, its important role in the human body is not widely known. This is worrisome, as glutathione deficiency can accelerate the aging process and increase your risk of developing diseases such as dementia, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and more [1-3].

Glutathione
is a molecule made up of the amino acids cysteine, glycine, and glutamine. While the human body produces glutathione naturally, our stressful lives and environments mean it is not quite enough.

Chronic stress and exposure to toxins such as chemicals, heavy metals, and radiation deplete the body’s glutathione stores. Plus, if you are a smoker, heavy drinker, use a lot of prescription drugs or over-the-counter medicines, or suffer from a chronic illness, you will lose even more glutathione. What’s more, your glutathione production and stores decline as you get older.

A sad truth is that most of us deal with these stressful and health-depleting factors on a daily basis (age, stress, toxin exposure, and illness). This may help to explain why the health of humans, in general, leaves a lot to be desired.

Excessive exposure to toxins increases the presence of free radicals in the body. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that have an unpaired electron. Due to this, they seek out and steal electrons from lipids, proteins, mitochondria, and DNA.

This process is called oxidation and it modifies the structure and function of these cellular entities. The result is a triggered immune and inflammatory reaction, leaving the body open to chronic inflammation, premature aging, infection, and disease. Is it any wonder why we should all be seeking out and making the most of the many glutathione benefits?

Why is glutathione called a ‘master antioxidant’?

As glutathione is an antioxidant, it supplies an extra electron to free radicals that are on the hunt for their missing electron. This settles the free radicals down and renders them harmless. By neutralizing free radicals, glutathione suppresses a raft of immune reactions that could lead to systemic inflammation. This is why glutathione is known to prevent inflammation-led diseases like cancer, heart disease, and neurodegenerative disease.

While glutathione works to protect cells, DNA, and tissues from oxidative damage, it differs from other commonly-known antioxidants. Why?

For one, glutathione is an endogenous antioxidant, meaning that it is produced internally and is present within the cells. This differs from Vitamin C which is found in the bloodstream, and Vitamin E which is found in cell membranes. Glutathione is in a great position to protect the cells and their mitochondria from free radicals and the oxidative stress they cause.

This super antioxidant regenerates itself after it has finished neutralizing free radicals and gets right back to work. Plus, it helps to recycle other antioxidants in the body such as Vitamin C and Vitamin E.

A helpful fact to note is that healthy sleep increases your glutathione levels. Melatonin (a hormone produced when you sleep, and that regulates sleep-wake cycles) boosts glutathione levels in liver, brain, and muscle tissue. Even more reason to get some quality shut eye, don’t you think?

One of the many benefits of glutathione is that it cleans toxic metabolic waste - free radicals and reactive species - that are released during immune responses. This means that the immune cells are protected from oxidative damage. Plus, glutathione is a master detox molecule (crucial for eliminating toxins from the body) and regulates the immune system by activating T-cells (immune cells) [4-5].

Everything we have covered here explains why your body uses more glutathione when it is experiencing stress, infection, or illness. This strong antioxidant eliminates damaging free radicals and fires up the immune system so it can fight and destroy pathogens.

As we age, toxins and stress take a heavy toll on our glutathione levels. However, you can reverse this deficiency by taking a high-quality liposomal glutathione supplement. Liposomal glutathione benefits are vast; they boost your glutathione levels, protect you against disease, and slow down the aging process.

References:

  1. N Ballatori et al. Glutathione dysregulation and the etiology and progression of human diseases. Biol Chem. 2009 Mar; 390(3): 191–214.
  2. Chava B. Pocernich. D. Allan Butterfield. Elevation of glutathione as a therapeutic strategy in Alzheimer disease. 2012. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular Basis of Disease
  3. Townsend DM, Tew KD, Tapiero H. The importance of glutathione in human disease. Biomed Pharmacother. 2003 May-Jun;57(3-4):145-55.
  4. T W Mak et al. Glutathione Primes T Cell Metabolism for Inflammation. Immunity. April 2017.
  5. Allen et al. Mechanisms of Control of Mycobacterium tuberculosis by NK Cells: Role of Glutathione. Front Immunol. 2015