Glutathione (pronounced gloo-tah-THIGH-ahn) is a tripeptide (three amino acids held together with peptide bonds), which is naturally occurring in your body’s cells, as well as the cells of all plants, animals and even bacteria.
It is one of a number of the body’s antioxidants. While other antioxidants depend on glutathione to function properly, its unique claim to fame is regeneration. That is, glutathione can recreate itself and other antioxidants. For this reason, glutathione is appropriately dubbed The Master Antioxidant.
Regeneration differs from healing in that healing is about repairing damage, while regeneration is about recreating necessary molecules lost or damaged by chemical processes.
Other vital Functions
As if being the master antioxidant were not important enough, glutathione also serves several other vital functions.
Detoxification—Glutathione binds to harmful pathogens and toxins, forming compounds that can be escorted out of the body.
Building and regulating the immune response system—Glutathione amplifies activity of immune cells, and works within them as an antioxidant.
As an example, T-cells, which are specialty white cells, roam the body searching for irregularities and threats. T-cells would not function properly without glutathione. One type of these specialty cells is called killer T-cells. They are your body’s first line defenders, our SWAT team, seeking and destroying damaged cells that are tumorous or replicating viruses.
The body can’t produce T-cells without glutathione, and T-cells can’t function properly without glutathione.
Maintaining and increasing energy—The presence of glutathione literally keeps cells alive and maintains the mitochondria’s charge. The mitochondria are the cells’ energy generators.
Regulates cell growth, division and repair—Glutathione prevents harmful molecules that inhibit healthy cell growth and division, protects DNA and repairs DNA of damaged cells.
Activates and catalyzes enzymes—Without this function enzymes would be dormant. Glutathione activates enzymes to function, then assists some enzymes in their chemical reactions.
Metabolization and/or conjugation of toxins, carcinogens and xenobiotics—This is the removal of harmful, chemical substances that do not naturally occur in the body, or other substances that have reached dangerously high levels. Such foreign chemicals and excessive other substances are called xenobiotics.
Glutathione acts chemically on many types of xenobiotics to neutralize and transform them into compounds the body can eliminate. Other xenobiotics are neutralized and eliminated when glutathione joins them (conjugates).
One of the liver’s vital functions is deactivating and eliminating xenobiotics. Enzymes in the liver act on xenobiotics through a series of chemical reactions, preparing them to bond with a compound that can escort them out of the body. Glutathione drives this process.
Anti-aging, through resistance to and repair of ultraviolet (UV) and radiation damage to cells—Glutathione detoxifies free radicals caused by UV and radiation, thus reducing damage and neutralizing reactivity, preventing further harm to cells.
Glutathione helps protect against:
effects of aging, atherosclerosis, cataracts, glaucoma, asthma, cancer, atherosclerosis, high cholesterol,
hepatitis, liver disease, detoxifying metals and drugs,
Chronic Fatigue and other immunosuppression,
memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease,
osteoarthritis, Parkinson’s disease,
colitis, diabetes, Lyme disease
… and more
Glutathione and free radicals
Glutathione is highly reactive. That is, it loves to neutralize free radicals. In fact, neutralizing free radicals is one of its specialties. Free radicals are atoms that have an odd number of electrons. Such atoms are unstable and search for other free radicals to bond with, or try to snatch one from a nearby, stable atom.
Free radicals are produced naturally through normal bodily processes, such as breathing and eating, as well as from exposure to xenobiotics. If free radicals are left unneutralized due to a shortage of antioxidants, or if the number of free radicals becomes so high it overwhelms the antioxidants, cells can be damaged or even killed, and pathways altered. Serious disease may result.
How do we get glutathione
The body naturally produces glutathione using foods such as:
✓Turnip roots and greens
Poor diet, exposure to stress, toxins, environmental pollutants, chronic illness and drugs deplete glutathione. As we age, the body produces less glutathione. Energy lags, the brain grows foggy, cells suffer damage and the skin puts it on display for all to see.
Glutathione can be supplemented intravenously (IV infusion), or orally. IV glutathione therapy is inconvenient, not to mention costly, and must be repeated.
Research comparing the benefit of IV glutathione with oral glutathione demonstrates that when oral glutathione is acetylated it provides significantly higher levels of glutathione on several markers. That’s good news.
Why acetylated glutathione is superior
For glutathione supplement to work it must reach the cells. That means it has to pass unchanged through the entire digestive tract, into the bloodstream and finally be deposited into the cells. Reduced glutathione is the form found the body’s cells produce, but when reduced glutathione enters the stomach it is degraded, and never reaches the cells. That’s bad news.
The great news is, when an acetyl group is attached to glutathione’s sulphur molecule, the S-Acetyl glutathione travels safely through the digestive system, is transported unchanged by the bloodstream to be deposited safely into the cells. S-Acetyl glutathione has been demonstrated to pass through cell membranes more readily than reduced glutathione.
Once the acetylated glutathione enters the cells, the acetyl molecule is reduced by the natural metabolization process, and the reduced glutathione goes right to work. Acetyl groups are found in many of the body’s molecules, so attachment and reduction of acetyl groups is a normal cellular process.
Pure Therapeutic’s Glutathione GOLD™ provides a patent-pending, S-acetyl glutathione in your choice of 100mg or 200mg serving size for increased dosing flexibility.
References used in this blog:
The Huffington Post. Hyman, M. MD. (2011, November). Glutathione: The Mother of All Antioxidants.
Today’s Dietitian. Giancoli, A.N., MPH, RD. (2015, July). Antioxidants: The Power of Glutathione. Vol. 17 No. 7 P. 56.
Immune Health Science. What Glutathione (GSH) is and How it Affects Your Immune Health.
Clinical Education. Ash, M., BSc DO ND F.DipION; Jones, M. PharmD. (2011, January). Oral Glutathione Equivalent to IV Therapy!
Cardiff University. T-cell Modulation Group, Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes.
Wikipedia. (2017, April). Articles titled: Regeneration in Humans. Thiol. Xenobiotics. Acetyl Group.
Wellness Mama. (2017, February). The Master Antioxidant: Glutathione.
Wong, C., ND. (2016, February). The Benefits of Glutathione.
Accessed at: verywell.com/benefits-of-glutathione-89457
Antioxidants and Redox Signaling Journal. Mari, M., et al. (2009, November: 2685-2700). Mitochondrial Glutathione, a Key Survival Antioxidant.
Accessed at: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2821140/
ASU School of Life Sciences. Viral Attack.