Glutathione is the body's master antioxidant, a potent molecule that combats oxidative stress in the body to protect our cells from damage. It does this by recycling antioxidants such as vitamin C, quenching free radicals, detoxification of harmful compounds, and shielding cells from reactive oxygen species (1).
This compound is unique in that it can be produced by the body but also supplied externally. You can boost glutathione from consuming quality animal protein, cruciferous vegetables, garlic, shallots, almonds, onions, avocado, asparagus, milk thistle, whey protein, and okra.
And meditation has even been shown to increase glutathione levels (2)!
But if glutathione is made by the body, why do we need to supplement?
Glutathione can be depleted by various factors such as aging, drugs, alcohol, chronic stress, poor diet, environmental toxins, and illness and infections.
Supplementation can make a big difference for many people, especially those dealing with inflammatory conditions or chronic diseases.
However, not all forms of glutathione are created equal. When choosing a supplement, liposomal is most often recommended as the most effective form if you are not able to go the IV route. NAC is also a common supplement given to increase glutathione production because it acts as a precursor.
Always consult with your healthcare provider before starting a new supplement regimen.
5 amazing benefits of glutathione
Supports the detoxification of harmful compounds
Glutathione is your most powerful antioxidant but also detoxifier!
As our world is becoming increasingly toxic, we need adequate glutathione levels more than ever in order to prevent the build-up of toxins in the body from creating damage.
Glutathione can be found majoritively in the liver due to its importance in the detoxification process. This detoxifier is essential for the body to properly eliminate harmful toxins and compounds from the body. It is particularly involved in phase 2 detoxification in the liver, which is commonly compromised leading to various health issues.
Glutathione works by binding onto toxins and transforming them into water-soluble molecules so that they can effectively be flushed by the body.
When it comes to detoxification and the effectiveness of glutathione, it is important to address toxin exposure while also supporting the detoxification and eliminatory organs to do their job properly.
Many times our bodies can be overburdened by too many chemicals and toxins which then increases our need for glutathione.
By decreasing our toxic load we can decrease our need for glutathione and reduce the risk of depleting it.
These toxins can be found in our environment, our food, our beauty products, but also our home, which means there is a lot that we can control.
Reduces oxidative stress
Oxidative stress occurs when there are excess free radicals for the body to handle, resulting in damage to the cell.
Have you ever seen an apple turn brown? This is due to oxidation. But squeeze some lemon juice onto the apple and it protects the apple from browning. This is where antioxidants come into play to protect against the effects of oxidation, and the same can occur in the body.
Low levels of glutathione are associated with increased oxidative stress and disease (3), because this molecule is responsible for fighting free radicals as well as preserving and recycling antioxidants in the body.
Increased oxidative stress can lead to an increased risk of chronic illness and disease over time such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis (4).
Increases energy production
Energy is produced inside of the cell, and more specifically in our mitochondria, in the form of ATP. Contrary to popular belief, coffee actually isn't needed for energy! ATP is the main energy currency of the body and how cells store energy.
However, if the cells of our mitochondria become damaged our cells can become sluggish and produce less energy.
How can we improve energy production inside of the cell? Glutathione!
Glutathione protects the cell against oxidative stress and damage, which is why having sufficient levels is so important for proper cell function and energy.
Protects against the effects of aging
Our body defense systems can become impaired as we age, increasing the susceptibility to illness and the effects of aging, which may be linked to a decline in antioxidant defense systems.
Free radicals promote oxidative stress in the body which creates damage to tissues, and this can accelerate the aging process.
This is also why you may notice individuals who smoke seem to age more quickly due to increased oxidative stress.
Not only can glutathione help prevent chronic disease by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, but it can also help to prevent accelerated aging.
Glutathione has been shown to reduce the signs of aging such as wrinkles while improving skin elasticity (5).
Oxidative stress and free radical production play an important role in age-related diseases which is why antioxidant therapy such as glutathione may be worthwhile for prevention and maintenance (6).
Reduces complications of type 2 diabetes
A study found patients with type 2 diabetes to have significantly lower levels of the antioxidant glutathione (7).
The complications of type 2 diabetes include cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and blindness as well as increased oxidative stress and inflammation.
Due to its anti-inflammatory effects, glutathione can help to reduce oxidative stress and damage caused by chronically high levels of blood sugar in diabetes patients (8).
Laurence Annez is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Health Coach, specializing in PCOS and women's hormones. She also holds a degree in Creative Writing and has extensive experience writing on health and wellness topics. Laurence's mission is to inspire and motivate individuals to take control of their own health and reach their ultimate health goals.