Antioxidants are essential for all living things but glutathione in particular is known to be crucial for overall health and wellbeing. (1)
Sadly, many people today have depleted levels of glutathione in their systems for a number of reasons including poor nutrition, chronic stress, environmental factors and age to name but a few. (2)
Being the body's most important antioxidant, it’s vital we take appropriate measures to maintain adequate levels of glutathione.
In this article, you’ll find out exactly what glutathione is, what it does to your body, the best form to take it in, and how to make sure your levels never run low.
What is Glutathione?
It works by protecting every cell in our body from free radicals and detoxifies the liver by flushing out harmful toxins.
A deficiency in glutathione can lead to an increased risk of cell damage and your body losing its ability to function optimally. As a result lower energy levels and frequent inflammation often occur which opens the door to diseases and accelerates the ageing process.
In fact, changes in glutathione levels and/or oxidation state have now been reported in nearly all major human diseases. (11)
The four main functions of glutathione in the body include:
- Detoxification of toxins
- DNA synthesis and repair
- Protection from oxidation
- Enhancement of the immune system
Glutathione can be supplemented in oral form, administered intravenously, injected into the muscle, applied topically to the skin or taken as an inhalant.
“Glutathione is the most critical and integral part of your detoxification system. All the toxins stick onto glutathione, which then carries them into the bile and stool — and out of your body.” — Mark Hyman, M.D.
Top health benefits of Glutathione
There is a good reason that glutathione is one of the most talked-about antioxidants in the healthcare industry. Its benefits are vast, perhaps too vast to get into in this article, so instead, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 in the infographic below:
Causes of depleted Glutathione levels
As mentioned previously there are many factors that can cause your glutathione levels to drop to unfavourable levels.
In the diagram below you’ll find the most common causes of glutathione depletion:
Glutathione’s antioxidant capabilities
Glutathione is one of the most famous natural antioxidants known to mankind. And while glutathione itself is an antioxidant, it also works to recycle other antioxidants. (13)
Let’s take our brains and nervous system for example. They are both particularly susceptible to oxidative stress due to the high percentage of oxygen required for healthy brain function. But because glutathione helps recycle other antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E, it frees them up to be re-used to remove free radicals and decrease oxidative stress.
Glutathione is responsible for putting out ‘the fires in your body’ enabling each cell to then produce a maximum amount of energy. So when glutathione levels are low so too is the energy production from each cell in your body.
“Many antioxidants work for 1 thing, or 2 things, or 3 things. Glutathione works for everything.” — Robert H. Keller, MD
However, most often, glutathione is valued for its function in liver detoxification.
How does Glutathione help detoxify the liver?
Every organ in the body is important from our brain right through to our bladder. But we often overlook one primary organ that performs at least 500 functions to keep us healthy — the liver!
It comes in as the second largest organ only after the skin (yes, your skin is an organ) and its main jobs are to flush out harmful toxins, process food, produce bile, help maintain blood sugar levels and supply energy. (7)
But, in order for your liver to function properly and perform all those important tasks, it needs to produce enough of the ‘master antioxidant’ glutathione. (1)
Glutathione is present in every cell of the body. But concentrations are seven to 10 times higher in liver cells than anywhere else.
But how does glutathione help?
Glutathiones tripeptide plays an important role in Phase II detoxification processes by binding to heavy metals, chemicals, and other toxic substances in the liver making them more water-soluble so they can be removed through urine or stool protecting our body’s cells against toxic injury. (12)
“Glutathione is the main antioxidant in the liver.” — Dr Melina Roberts
Glutathione’s crucial role in the detoxification and antioxidant systems of cells has made it a primary treatment for acute poisoning and chronic liver diseases by intravenous injection.
A recent study carried out by BMC Gastroenterology found that patients with NAFLD (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease) saw a significant decrease in ALT levels following treatment with glutathione for 4 months. (8)
Natural ways to increase your Glutathione levels
Maintaining adequate levels of this primary antioxidant is incredibly important. Lifestyle changes can be supportive of glutathione levels as well as eating a diet filled with antioxidant-rich foods. (6)
Here are 10 ways to naturally increase your glutathione levels:
- Eat more sulfur-rich foods
- Up your vitamin C intake
- Add selenium-rich foods to your diet
- Supplement with whey protein
- Get more sleep
- Try adding turmeric into your diet
- Exercise regularly
- Cut back on the alcohol
- Breathing techniques that relieve stress
Best foods naturally rich in Glutathione
Despite the fact that glutathione is produced by the body it can be beneficial to consume dietary sources that are particularly abundant in this powerful antioxidant such as:
- Unprocessed meat
But it’s important to note that while all of these foods are a great natural source of glutathione, dietary glutathione is poorly absorbed by the body. However, eating these foods may still help decrease oxidative stress. (4,5)
S-Acetyl Glutathione ‘A Major Advance’
S-Acetyl glutathione is an active antioxidant derived from glutathione which actually turns out to be more reliable in the blood. Glutathione in the S-Acetyl form is orally active and has been found to significantly increase levels of glutathione inside the body’s cells in comparison to the non-acetylated form.
Various studies have confirmed that the S-Acetyl form is better absorbed through the intestinal wall, as its acetyl bond prevents oxidation and helps the molecule to enter the cells directly after absorption in the intestine.
Whereas plain glutathione must be broken down by enzymes to the basic amino acid components for absorption into the cell requiring more energy expenditure to be re-constructed back to reduced glutathione (rGSH). (9, 10)
Basically what this means is that it’s a better dietary/therapeutic decision to provide the orally active and absorbed S-Acetyl glutathione, which increases intracellular rGSH directly and naturally without all the increased energy expenditure and without being compromised from disease states.
All this makes supplementing with S-Acetyl glutathione an excellent choice for the gold standard of GSH replenishment: to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation of disease progression to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Planet Source Glutathione Capsules
Glutathione can be broken down rapidly in the digestive tract rendering many supplements on the market today ineffective.
So it’s important to select an S-Acetyl glutathione supplement that is formulated to survive exposure to digestive enzymes and be well absorbed into the bloodstream. Planet Source Glutathione Capsules do just that!
These easy swallowed vegetarian glutathione capsules are well suited for oral ingestion since they are not degraded in the intestinal tract and boast many other benefits including:
- 200mg of S-Acetyl Glutathione per serving (which is only two capsules)
- Acid-resistant capsule to guarantee stability
- The first orally stable form of glutathione to increase intracellular levels directly and naturally without increased energy expenditure
- No smelly gas
- Supplied in tubs of 30 vegetarian capsules
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What to avoid when taking Glutathione
Aerobic exercise like walking, jogging and swimming alongside weight training can increase glutathione levels.
However, long bouts of high-intensity exercise can increase oxidative stress, which leads to a greater demand for glutathione and other antioxidants; so sticking to moderate exercise is a better idea to maintain a good glutathione balance.
The bottom line
Our liver needs adequate levels of glutathione to function optimally and flush out harmful toxins, crucial for overall health and well-being. Depleted glutathione levels often result in liver dysfunction, immune dysfunction, cardiac disease and premature ageing.
However, glutathione isn’t absorbed well by the body so we must turn to the S-Acetyl form. Planet Sources S-Acetyl glutathione capsules offer a no-brainer option helping to make sure you keep your levels of this ‘master oxidant’ topped up at all times!
Written by Kieran Higgins, Health Writer.
Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.