5 Ways to Improve Glutathione Levels
The human body is under oxidative stress from a variety of sources at all times. To combat this stress and damage the body utilizes antioxidants of all different varieties. Glutathione (GSH) is a very special peptide molecule that provides the greatest antioxidant protection and recharges other antioxidants within the body (1). In this article, you will discover 5 ways to improve glutathione levels naturally.
Every cell in the body produces glutathione. Many longevity scientists believe that the level of glutathione in our cells is predicative of how long we will live (2, 3, 4). This is logical considering the wealth of essential bodily processes that glutathione plays a critical role in.
Glutathione has been coined with the term “master antioxidant” due to its essential role in maintaining exogenous anti-oxidants such as vitamin C & E in their active form (5, 6). Glutathione is like the cell’s security guard protecting the genetic equipment from outside attack.
It is estimated that each cell in the body withstands 10,000 hits by free radicals each day. Glutathione disarms these free radicals before they wreak havoc and cleans up the oxidative stress related damage that has occurred.
Glutathione’s Role in Immunity:
Glutathione plays a significant role in immune function (7). Studies have shown that glutathione strengthens T cells which are critical for modulating the immune system appropriately (8). These are the cells that coordinate the attack against pathogenic bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc. while keeping tissue damage and autoimmune responses in check. An overactive immune system can trigger allergies and autoimmune disease processes.
Glutathione fights against cellular toxins and works to eliminate carcinogens from the intracellular environment while healing damaged cells. Glutathione is constantly in action protecting the body against disease, toxins, viruses, pollutants, radiation, drugs and oxidative stress (9). When damage does occur, it immediately goes to work repairing the free radical damage.
Glutathione Levels Protect the Brain:
If sufficient glutathione is not available, the toxins will overload the liver and lead to fat soluble toxins being stored in fatty tissues. The central nervous system, breasts, & prostate are the most susceptible areas. Many researchers credit the increase in neurological and immune related problems to depleted cellular glutathione (10, 11, 12). The brain produces more free radicals than any other tissues and is therefore in need of more glutathione than any other region.
Levels of glutathione begin to decline with aging as the majority of individuals in our society become more toxic and deficient. Additionally, our society has more environmental toxicity than ever before so there is a significant need for more glutathione production. Unfortunately, our modern world diets are void of the necessary precursors for this critical agent.
Aging Declines Glutathione Production:
By age 20, scientists estimate that the average person loses glutathione at 8-12% per decade (13). Increased health challenges from infection, poor diet, smoking, increased toxic load, medication usage, etc. can deplete these stores at a much faster rate. Scientists estimate that a 30% reduction of glutathione is enough for cellular dysfunction to occur.
Studies have shown that adequate vitamin D is necessary for optimal glutathione production (14). The vast majority of our society is extremely deficient in vitamin D (15). Optimal vitamin D levels should be between 60-100 ng/ml.
Glutathione Precursors in the Diet:
Glutathione precursors such as glycine, glutamic acid and cysteine should naturally be consumed through our diet. The best vegetable sources include avocados, onions, spinach, & asparagus. Herbs such as turmeric have also been shown to boost glutathione content. Unfortunately, vegetable sources are still very low in these critical amino acids.
The best food sources are through high quality, non-denatured animal products. These include non-denatured grass-fed whey protein and cultured, raw grass-fed dairy products and raw, organic eggs. These cultured, raw grass-fed dairy products are an incredibly good source of highly bioavailable amino acids and offer more cysteine than any other food source. Our Gut Healing Protein has a number of both food and supplemental factors to support glutathione levels.
Best Glutathione Supplements:
As a clinican, I recommend supplements to boost glutathione stores for nearly everyone. This is because our society is so bombarded with toxins in the form of mental/emotional stressors, environmental chemicals in our air, water and food. We are depleting our glutathione stores.
When we hit a critical mass where all of a sudden our glutathione levels are unable to keep up with the oxidative stress from our environment, our health goes down hill quickly! This is when all of a sudden we have a significant rush of anti-body formation and the maturation of an autoimmune disease develops, we develop chronic pain or we have absolutely no energy anymore and/or tumors grow quickly (whether we know we have cancer or not).
21st century health is all about boosting our bodies antioxidant defense systems to protect the body from the onslaught of toxins and oxidative stress.
The best ways to boost glutathione from supplements includes formulated compounds that have key precursers such as glycine, glutamic acid and cysteine.
We can also look for herbs such as turmeric and milk thistle and sulfur compounds like MSM, N-acetyl cysteine and lipoic acid. Selenium is a trace mineral that also helps increase glutathione levels. One product we use that combines a number of these forms of glutathione is Thyroliver protect which acts specifically to improve both the thyroid and liver function.
I recommend glutathione precursors as great everyday support. In more tough cases where people are facing a health challenge rooted in chronic inflammation, using supplemental glutathione can be powerful. The problem with supplemental glutathione however is that most simply do not absorb through the gut barrier.
I recommend using an acetylated glutathione as it has been shown to survive the digestive tract and improve blood glutathione levels. Additionally, the form I carry (Super Glutathione) is encapsulated with acid-resistant technology to support optimal absorption in the gut.
To take your antioxidant benefits to the next level, you can combine supplemental glutathione along with glutathione precursors and other anti-inflammatory nutrients. I often recommend using this combination strategy as it is likely the most effective. For this purpose, I always recommend Pro Omega CRP.
This is a potent combination of reduced glutathione, glutathione precursors, and the powerful anti-inflammatory compound curcumin. Take all of this and combine it with purified omega 3 fatty acids and nothing beats it. For my patients struggling with chronic inflammatory conditions, this is my go-to.