Your Guide to Glutathione
Glutathione is your body’s primary antioxidant. Antioxidants protect your cells from oxidative stress and genetic damage. Glutathione is a tripeptide made of 3 simple amino acids: glycine, L-glutamic acid and L-cysteine. It is a difficult molecule to manufacture, requiring multiple steps. However, your body has the ability to recycle glutathione. This process requires alpha lipoic acid, vitamin C and vitamin B2 (riboflavin). It takes 6 -12 months to build your glutathione stores once they are depleted.
How Does It Work?
Why is glutathione so important? Well, it is also your chief detoxification agent. Found in every cell in your body, glutathione is heavily concentrated in the liver where it plays a key role in Phase II liver detoxification. It is the biochemical that keeps environmental chemicals from triggering an immune response or causing DNA damage. Xenobiotics may be grouped as carcinogens, pharmaceutical or recreational drugs, environmental pollutants, food additives, hydrocarbons and pesticides. Glutathione attaches to these xenobiotics and facilitates removal from the body through poop, pee and sweat.
Did you know that we produce toxins internally too? We utilize oxygen for fuel in our mitochondria. In the process, we produce some toxic byproducts that need to be neutralized by antioxidants. These reactive oxygen species such as free radicals, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and lipid peroxides can damage our mitochondria and limit ATP production (our main energy molecule). Glutathione protects our mitochondria by breaking down these toxic intermediaries and helping the body excrete them safely.
The stress response also produces H2O2 as a byproduct. Glutathione converts this toxic intermediary to water. It helps calm the body’s inflammatory response to many biochemical processes.
Other things that cause an inflammatory response: A high fat, high sugar diet. Eating too much, anytime and anywhere. This produces a chemical called methylglyoxal. Glutathione binds with this chemical and converts it to lactic acid to be excreted safely from the body.
Glutathione and Your Heart
To keep your heart and blood vessels healthy and pliable, your body needs nitric oxide. You need glutathione to make nitric oxide.
Glutathione and Your Immune System
Our immune system relies on glutathione to fight infections properly. When levels are low, we are unable to ward off infections and may even begin to attack our own tissue and autoimmune disease begins.
Glutathione and Your Weight
Our mitochondria burn the calories we ingest as fuel. This requires glutathione. If levels are low, that unburned fuel goes right to your waistline. Having adequate stores of glutathione helps maintain a healthy body weight through anabolic metabolism.
Sometimes you need to replace your glutathione. Sometimes you need to replace the building blocks or the nutrients needed to manufacture and recycle this important chemical. This is truly preventative medicine! If you are interested in checking your glutathione level, contact us at Radiance Functional Medicine! We can help you be your healthiest self!
Teskey et al “Glutathione as a marker for human disease” Adv Clin Chem 2018;87:141-159
Richie J et al “Randomized controlled trial of oral glutathione supplementation on body stores of glutathione” EurJ Nutr. 2014,54(2):251-263
Minich, D et al “A review of phytonutrients for glutathione support” Nutrients 2019, 2073
Ben Lynch “Dirty Genes”