Glutathione’s health benefits are significant, which is why we are calling this article, “Glutathione Anti-Aging Super Antioxidant.” This article will focus on glutathione health benefits for anti-aging, longevity and overall health.
Glutathione is commonly described as the “mother of all antioxidants,” and is one of the most important supplements that you could ever take. The reason for this is that glutathione is used by each and every cell in the body, and increasing glutathione levels provides a significant number of research proven health benefits. Glutathione is classified as an endogenous antioxidant, which means it is produced by the body naturally, however healthy glutathione levels can easily be exhausted from disease and/or temporary illness, stress, and toxin exposure.
From a chemical perspective, glutathione is composed of three amino acids (cysteine, glutamate, and glycine) and is referred to as a tripeptide. While every single amino acid has its own vital part in the body, glutathione with the assistance of cystine becomes a powerful antioxidant and disengages harmful free radicals, deadly drugs and dangerous heavy metals. Moreover, glutathione’s detoxification properties provide protection for the body’s cells, organs and tissues from disease and malfunction.
Glutathione is similar to other antioxidants which includes vitamin A, C, and E. However, the similarity ends there, because unlike the aforementioned similar antioxidants, the body can make glutathione. Interestingly, the body should be making glutathione regularly in healthy individuals for life. Studies performed by scientists even suggest that the level of glutathione in a person’s cells is indicative of their longevity.
The ability of humans to make glutathione is not unique, as virtually all living organisms require this tripeptide to live a healthy life.
Insufficient level of glutathione escalates our vulnerability to oxidative stress. Although humans do require a certain healthy level of oxidative stress in some circumstances, an excess or continual level can play a significant role as the cause of many diseases which includes, Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease and Parkinson’s. As a result of the necessity to maintain sufficient levels of glutathione for good health, it is imperative to correct any deficiency in levels so as to stave off a number of diseases.
Listing all the glutathione health benefits would turn this article into an encyclopedia. So, we will stick with the most researched and studied benefits.
Glutathione prevents DNA cellular damage by reducing the levels of reactive oxygen species as well as oxidative stress in the body. Fundamentally, by lowering persistent elevated levels of oxidative stress can result in a lowered risks of brain damage, cancer, inflammation and many other health issues. Similarly, glutathione is important in the regeneration of certain antioxidants such as vitamins C and E which are also required by the body.
Those who agonize with chronic health issues, have immune cells which produce cytokines, which hold the body in a constant persistent state of inflammation. Glutathione, can prevent the production of the majority of inflammatory cytokines.
In a recent study, scientists looked at mice who had inflammation as result of a glutathione deficiency. The mice’s glutathione levels were restored when the scientists blocked the inflammatory pathways (MAPK and iNOS). This observation provided evidence that inflammation and glutathione operate in a symbiotic relationship with one another. Finding the underlying source of inflammation in those individuals who suffer from it, will be of the utmost importance to raising glutathione levels in the long run.
The principle controller of inflammation is NF-k, a protein complex which increases the action of a number of inflammatory genes and their constituents. Research has shown that glutathione can effectively definitely block NF-k.
People who suffer with rheumatoid arthritis often have an impaired ability to process antioxidants and as a result have lower glutathione levels. However, these people also have elevated levels of a specific enzyme which uses glutathione peroxidase to deactivate free radicals. These increased levels of glutathione peroxidase show that those individuals have greater oxidative stress and also have a greater requirement for glutathione.
When the body has less glutathione, the activity of free radicals greatly accelerates the aging process, impairs the body and produces cognitive decline. Inequity in the levels of glutathione also have a profound influence on weakening the immune system so it’s ability to fight of infections is lessened. Numerous clinical studies have concluded that as the body ages, it produces less of this super antioxidant.
In women, levels begin to decline at the start of menopause and continue to remain at the lower end of the scale. Additionally, as oxidative stress levels are increased due to decline of glutathione, bones become more easily broken, the effects of osteoporosis are increased and individual cells are more vulnerable to damage.
Several studies looked at the biochemistry of people who suffered with depression and discovered that all of the subjects had low levels of glutathione. Consequently, in animal studies, under stress, glutathione was shown to thwart depression.
Although the restoration of normal glutathione levels assists in normalizing response to stress and helps calm the mind, it also has a positive change on other mental disorders which include, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia.
It is commonly known that people who suffer with schizophrenia have low glutathione levels. Several clinical studies gave N-acetyl cystine (a supplement form of cystine which elevates glutathione levels) to subjects, who showed an improvement in symptoms of schizophrenia.
People with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), have been observed in having elevated levels of free radicals in the blood. Increasing glutathione, would provide better antioxidant defense, resilience to stress and lessen symptom severity.
The most commonly prescribed drugs used to treat bipolar disorder are effective due to increasing glutathione levels. Alternatively, bringing up glutathione levels via intravenous deliver or with supplements may also help to alleviate symptoms and normalize mood.
Those diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) typically have low levels of glutathione and higher amounts of oxidative stress. Current research has shown promising results for people with ADHD who were given glutathione and Pycnogenol (an antioxidant from pine bark extract) and showed relatively fast improvement in symptoms.
One of the most energy demanding organ in the body. Although the brain is only 2 percent of a person’s body weight, it uses over 20 percent of the body’s oxygen intake.
Oxidative metabolism is the term used to describe the process of how the brain burns fuel for energy. As the brain creates energy, it produces reactive oxygen species. In order for the brain to maintain its health, the reactive oxygen species must be detoxed and efficiently done when there are proper levels of glutathione in the body.
Alzheimer’s disease to a certain extent is caused by oxidative stress. According to the medical experts, Alzheimer’s disease is exemplified by the buildup of TDP-43 (a DNA binding protein) in the central nervous system. As the buildup accumulates over time, glutathione levels drop significantly and create additional risks which we have previously mentioned. In an Alzheimer’s research study conducted with mice, increasing levels of glutathione showed improvement in memory, reduction in plaque buildup and an overall improvement to the underlying symptoms of the disease.
Parkinson’s disease is described as a progressive disorder which affects the nervous system and movement. Symptoms can begin slowly, occasionally starting off with an almost unnoticeable hand tremor. Although tremors are generally common, [the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement.
In the beginning stages of Parkinson’s, it is common that the affected individual has little to no facial expression. Your arms may not swing when you walk. Your speech may become soft or slurred. Parkinson’s disease progresses, the symptoms become worse with the passage of time.
Although Parkinson’s disease can’t be cured, medications might significantly improve your symptoms. In certain circumstances, the doctor treating the patients Parkinson’s disease could advocate surgery in order to control certain regions of your brain and improve your symptoms.
Furthermore, a mitochondrial boost with curcumin (natural anti-inflammation supplement), showed an increase in the health mitochondria in recent study that examined rats’ who had Huntington’s disease. The main contributors of Huntington’s disease are mitochondria malfunction and persistent oxidative stress.
Individuals suffering from brain disorders and/or diminished cognitive function, it is imperative to provide the brain with the right building blocks in order to make glutathione as well as other antioxidants. When supplementing remember to only use top quality products that offer the best bioavailability in crossing the blood brain barrier.
Viral infections use up a lot of the bodies glutathione as a result of total body inflammation and oxidative stress. In a wide range of diseases from AIDS to tuberculosis, that significantly reduce immunity and increase infection risk are correlated with low levels of glutathione.
In the case of tuberculosis, when the body’s glutathione levels are used up, immune cells lose their ability to fight infections. N-acetyl cysteine can be supplemented, so the body can make glutathione and restore the immune cell capacity to destroy the bacteria which is responsible for tuberculosis in cells. There are multiple research studies that have shown how the amino acid cysteine is the most important constituent for not only production of glutathione but also how quick it can be made by the body.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common intestinal illness that involves the large intestine. IBS is a recurring condition that requires continued maintenance in order to effectively deal with the symptoms. The symptoms for IBS include, bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea, cramping as well as pain in the abdomen.
People who suffer with IBS have significantly lower levels of cysteine which earlier we explained was vital to the production of glutathione. Moreover, sufferers of IBS begin to experience enzyme inactivity which are instrumental in glutathione synthesis.
Glutathione peroxidase, is the key enzyme required in eliminating free radicals. Additionally, glutathione peroxidase needs selenium (a mineral that has many antioxidant properties) in order to battle toxic substances in the body. Glutathione peroxidase also provides protection for the mucus coated layer that covers the intestines and in turn strengthens and restores the gut lining.
It has been shown that glutathione has a significant effect on cancer cell division and survival. As cancer progression increases oxidative stress, glutathione deficiency advances damage to healthy cells.
Several studies revealed an important correlation between boosting intake of glutathione and a decreased risk of oral and/or throat cancer. These studies also revealed that glutathione assisted in reducing and repairing damage caused from cancer medications.
According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is fundamentally caused by oxidative stress in heart tissue. More specifically, the three most common conditions which produce oxidative stress are diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance.
Decreased action of glutathione peroxidase, in addition to lower levels of cardiac and system glutathione, are connected with excessive oxidative stress and a greater risk of heart attacks. Glutathione can reduce the risk of heart attack and/or stroke.
Elevated blood sugar and diabetes (type 2), unfortunately lower glutathione levels in the body.
As a consequence, free radical accumulation is responsible for a number of health complications, including but not limited to heart issues, impaired brain health and nerve damage. These health issues can be prevented or severely limited by increasing levels of glutathione.
The kidneys can handle increased levels of oxidative stress for a certain period of time. Consistently elevated levels on the other hand, can plague the kidneys with health issues from minor problems to full blown kidney failure. In a recent study, rats who were in the early stages of kidney disease were fed aspartame which exacerbated the symptoms, but when researchers administered N-acetyl cysteine, glutathione levels were increased and prevented any further worsening of the kidneys.
Furthermore, in a human study, subjects with chronic kidney disease going through hemodialysis were given intravenous glutathione which was shown to improve kidney function and fully reverse anemia.
Glutathione maintains liver health by offsetting oxidative stress which can advance to liver disease. Additionally, glutathione is vital to detoxing the liver and providing overall protection.
If the body encounters damaging substances, the liver will create additional glutathione to stave off any damage. One particular substance that will activate the liver to make more glutathione is if a person is consuming too many saturated fats. Nevertheless, once the body runs out of glutathione, the liver will become more vulnerable to damage.
Drug addiction is a widespread problem all over the world. Abuse of drugs such as alcohol, cocaine and methamphetamines, boost reactive oxygen species production. As a result, the production of these oxygen species, can change behavior and cause brain damage. Several studies have indicated that by boosting levels of glutathione, the production of reactive oxygen species is decreased, which can help in combatting addictive behaviors such as alcohol and drug abuse, and even certain eating disorders.
Glutathione increases the body’s antioxidant defense, which not only provides brain protection, but also neutralizes and detoxifies dangerous and/or toxic substances in the body. These benefits are particularly vital in the beginning stages of abstinence. Continued abuse from alcohol greatly impacts levels of glutathione in the liver, which if not normalized can wreak havoc on the body and can even lead the liver failure in severe cases.
Additionally, persistent abuse of alcohol increases oxidative stress in the lungs, which can cause infections like pneumonia. Having the optimal levels of glutathione may provide better lung health by keeping oxidative stress in check.
As we have previously discussed, lower levels of glutathione are associated with increased inflammation, however inflammation in the body’s airways can lead to asthma. In many cases, the culprit that is responsible for triggering lower levels of glutathione are environmental toxins.
When N-acetyl cysteine was given to mice with asthma in order to try and stimulate natural production of glutathione. As glutathione levels increased the asthma symptoms and inflammation became significantly less.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a disease which affects the lungs, brought on by long standing oxidative damage. Despite the fact that generally COPD is caused by smoking, prolonged exposure to chemicals as well as chemical fumes are also common causes. However, by increasing levels of glutathione will result in less oxidative damage to the lungs, which may significantly lower the risk of getting the disease.
Those individuals with acne and low reserves of glutathione, usually have increased levels of oxidative stress. As a consequence of having weakened antioxidative activity can be a cause of acne, and the prolonged deficiency of antioxidants will make skin health worse. By increasing levels of glutathione, acne may be reduced by stimulation of skin regeneration and counteracting oxidative stress.
Some women who have sought out the top specialists in skin care, have learned that glutathione can in fact lighten the skin. Glutathione lightens skin by lowering the activity skin cells which create dark pigments or melanin. This affect helps to minimize the prominence of darker skin patches which usually increase as we age.
Glutathione is produced by the body and can only be made from three amino acids: cysteine, glutamate and glycine. Subsequent to glutathione’s production, an enzyme called Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase (GGT), breaks it down into small pieces at cell surface and allows only certain amino acids pass through the cell. You could say that GGT acts as a security, allowing only certain things in.
Large amounts of GGT are stored in the liver, and will break down glutathione, reluctantly and selfishly. So a problem arises when taking a glutathione supplement, specifically because it has to go through the liver prior to getting in the blood stream. Due to this reason, the majority of oral forms of glutathione will not allow you to attain the benefits we have described here.
These delivery forms of glutathione can avoid the limitation set by GGT:
Adding these supplements to your glutathione regimen will provide the maximum health benefits.
Raising the glutathione levels in your body is a fantastic means of increasing your antioxidant and immune system defenses. Having the effective levels of glutathione in your system will provide you with full body detoxification and healthy support for your brain heart and liver. Nonetheless, not all glutathione supplements are the same as only specific glutathione delivery formulations are the only way in keeping this antioxidant from being broken down by the liver before even reaching the bloodstream.