Glutathione is a disease buster and as such is probably the single most important molecule in your body. It is the master detoxifier and helps get rid of toxins out of the body. It protects cells, helps our metabolism and is integral to our immune system.
At the most fundamental level, Glutathione protects tissues from ageing, helps to fight viral infections, and is the key antioxidant to prevent cancer, heart disease, dementia, MS and some other chronic diseases. Previous studies have related longer life to high glutathione levels with those who live well into the 100 years found to have exceptional levels.2
What is glutathione?
Glutathione is a very simple molecule that is produced naturally in the body and is a combination of three simple building blocks of protein or amino acids called cysteine, glycine and glutamine. It contains sulfur which is a sticky molecule and acts like a fly paper to all the bad things that are present in the body like mercury and other heavy metals.
There are other detox compounds in our body, but none are as effective – Glutathione removes about 50% of the toxins we get exposed to daily
The importance of glutathione
Glutathione is important because it does 2 things: it recycles antioxidants which prevent or delay damage to cells whilst binding to poisons too. But just as importantly, it also helps us reach peak mental and physical function. Research has shown that raised glutathione levels decrease muscle damage, reduce recovery time, increase strength and endurance and shift metabolism from fat production to muscle development. Glutathione is so important because it is responsible for unlocking and optimizing wellness in multiple ways. It’s therefore no surprise when a study of healthy young people found them to have the highest glutathione levels.1
In Hong Kong one of the problems is that the everyday exposure to air pollution, heavy metals and a stressful lifestyle depletes the antioxidants, especially glutathione. When we are overwhelmed with too much oxidative stress or toxins, the glutathione becomes depleted and we can no longer protect ourselves against infections and diseases.
Immunity then fails to cope, and all too often in children and the elderly pollution related coughs, with allergy and possibly asthma symptoms occur as the glutathione is depleted.
For most adults the damage is to the liver, when glutathione cannot keep up with the toxic insult of the city, especially combined with excess calories.
Clinically we see that glutathione deficiency is found in nearly all very ill patients, including people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, heart disease, cancer, chronic infections, arthritis, asthma, kidney problems and liver disease, autoimmune disease, diabetes, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and other nerve degenerative diseases. It is therefore critical to maintain a high level of glutathione to act as a prevention and to aid recovery.
Symptoms of a deficiency in glutathione
- Decreased movements and extreme fatigue
- Seizures or unusual muscle spasms and or confusion
- Decreased reaction time
- Delays in speech
- Loss of coordination
- Rapid heart rate
- Pale or yellow skin
How to treat deficiency
Deficiency can be genetic and so an important first step is to have a DNA Health test which can reveal your genetic capacity to produce and recycle glutathione. This test enables the most appropriate treatment and supplementation.
Are other supplements helpful?
There are other supplements which are effective at increasing glutathione levels:
- N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a very effective way of increasing glutathione levels.
- Vitamin C, selenium and lipoic acid can recycle and restore youthful levels of glutathione.
- NAC combined with glycine restores glutathione concentrations in elderly patients particularly well but daily doses of 1,000 to 2,000mg of NAC can be effective for everyone.
1. Nuttall S, Martin U, Sinclair A, Kendall M. 1998. Glutathione: in sickness and in health. The Lancet; 351(9103):645-646
2. Andersen HR, Lower Activity of Superoxide Dismutase and High Activity of Glutathione Reductase in Erythrocytes From Centenarians. Age and Ageing, 1998; 27:643-648.
5. PMID: 28853742
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