The Benefits of Glutathione: The Master Antioxidant
Glutathione is a small protein that is composed of three amino acids: cysteine, glycine, and glutamic acid. It is known as the "master antioxidant" and plays a vital role in the body's defense system against harmful molecules called free radicals. In addition to its antioxidant properties, glutathione also has other important functions in the body such as detoxification, immune system regulation, and protein synthesis.
One of the main benefits of glutathione is its ability to neutralize harmful free radicals and protect cells from damage. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells and contribute to the development of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease. Glutathione can neutralize these free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause.
Another benefit of glutathione is its ability to detoxify the body. The liver is the main organ responsible for detoxifying the body and glutathione plays a crucial role in this process by binding to and removing toxins such as heavy metals and chemicals. This helps to keep the liver functioning properly and can help prevent damage to other organs.
In addition to its antioxidant and detoxifying properties, glutathione also plays a role in the regulation of the immune system. Studies have shown that low levels of glutathione are associated with a weakened immune system and increased susceptibility to infections (1). On the other hand, increasing glutathione levels can help to boost the immune system and protect against infection.
One study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, found that oral supplementation with glutathione in elderly patients resulted in a significant increase in the number of natural killer cells and a reduction in the incidence of infections (2). This suggests that glutathione may help to improve the immune system in older adults.
Glutathione also plays a role in protein synthesis, which is the process by which the body creates new proteins. Proteins are essential for many functions in the body such as muscle growth, repair, and maintenance. A study published in the journal Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, found that low levels of glutathione can lead to muscle wasting and weakness (3). This highlights the importance of adequate glutathione levels for muscle health.
There are several ways to increase glutathione levels in the body. The most effective way is to consume foods that are rich in the precursors of glutathione such as cysteine, glycine, and glutamic acid. Examples of these foods include meat, eggs, dairy products, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.
Additionally, oral supplementation with glutathione or its precursors can also help to increase levels of glutathione in the body. However, it is important to note that oral supplementation may not be as effective as increasing glutathione levels through diet and that oral supplementation should be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
In conclusion, glutathione is a small protein that plays a vital role in the body's defense system against harmful free radicals, detoxification, immune system regulation and protein synthesis. Low levels of glutathione are associated with a weakened immune system and increased susceptibility to infections, muscle wasting and weakness. The most effective way to increase glutathione levels is through diet, consuming foods that are rich in the precursors of glutathione such as cysteine, glycine, and glutamic acid and if needed oral supplementation should be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
J. W. Sheldon, "Glutathione: A Review of Its Roles in Redox Signaling and Det