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Glutathione: What to Know About the "Master Antioxidant"

Holtorf Medical Group

What Is Glutathione?

Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that consists of three amino acids: Cysteine, Glutamic Acid, and Glycine. Glutathione is often referred to as the “Master Antioxidant” because it increases the body’s levels of other critical antioxidants that combat free radical damage and oxidative stress.

Why We Need Antioxidants

Although antioxidants such as glutathione can lead to a variety of health benefits, their key role is to inhibit oxidation and damage to cells from free radicals (hence anti-oxidant). Free radicals are inflammatory substances, which are unstable molecules that are missing an electron.

Learn more about antioxidants here

Free radicals can be a result of a variety of factors such as toxin exposure, stress, immune dysfunction, and poor nutrition but our body also produces free radicals naturally during cellular reactions. Free radicals can be produced during food metabolization, exercise, and even breathing. Such mechanisms only produce a small amount of free radicals that the body can typically process and eliminate. However, problems begin to occur when the number of free radicals exceeds what our bodies can process naturally, resulting in an increased presence of free radicals that can damage cells and compromise bodily functions.

Damage caused by free radicals is known as oxidation or oxidative stress. Excessive oxidation can cause:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Inflammatory disease
  • Cataracts
  • Cancer
  • Accelerated aging

Therefore, maintaining appropriate antioxidant levels is critical to our health in the long run.

Benefits of Glutathione

Glutathione is naturally produced in the liver and combats free radical damage as well as renders existing free radicals ineffective. This results in a wide range of benefits including:

Reduces Oxidative Stress & Inflammation

Oxidative stress is directly linked to higher levels of inflammation. Inflammatory diseases are responsible for 50% of annual deaths, highlighting the importance of maintaining low inflammation levels. By increasing your levels of glutathione, you can significantly reduce your inflammation levels, minimizing the potential of such issues occurring.

In fact, studies show that all chronic health conditions are linked to low glutathione levels. Whether this is the cause of certain health issues or low glutathione levels are just also present in conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and others, remains unclear.

It is important to note that reduced inflammation levels are in turn linked with numerous health benefits such as:

  • Improved mental clarity
  • Reduced joint pain
  • Alleviated digestive issues
  • Improved athletic stamina
  • Boosted energy levels
  • Enhanced skin health
  • Reduced migraine and headache pain
  • Improved sleep quality

Learn more about inflammation here

May Improve Psoriasis

A small study where participants increased their levels of glutathione naturally with whey protein, found that psoriasis symptoms improved. Study participants were given 20 grams as an oral supplement daily for three months. Researchers stated that more study is needed.

Supports Weight Maintenance & Metabolic Health

We produce less glutathione with age, which some experts believe is connected to insulin resistance. Researchers at Baylor School of Medicine used a combination of animal and human studies to explore the role of glutathione in weight management and insulin in older adults. They concluded that low glutathione levels are linked to not only less fat burning, but also higher rates of fat storing.

May Help Manage Autoimmune Conditions

Chronic inflammation is a common issue faced by those with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, and lupus. According to one study, glutathione can be an effective way to help minimize the oxidative stress caused by the body’s autoimmune inflammatory response (autoimmune disease is characterized by the body attacking its own cells). Glutathione works to protect cells’ mitochondria by eliminating free radicals.

Promoting Healthy Glutathione Levels

Although the body produces glutathione naturally, because of its incredible health benefits, it is best to support your glutathione levels for optimal longevity and vitality:

Eat Sulfur-Rich Foods:

(sulfur is required for the synthesis of glutathione)

  • Beef
  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale).

Increase Your Vitamin C Intake

In the same way that glutathione can increase the levels of other antioxidants in the body, vitamin C does the same for glutathione. High levels of vitamin C are linked with high levels of glutathione. Fruits such as strawberries, oranges, papayas, and kiwis are all great sources of vitamin C.

Supplement with Whey Protein

Whey protein is rich in cysteine, a precursor to glutathione as it is involved in the synthesis of this amino acid. Studies have shown that supplementing with whey protein can increase your glutathione levels and subsequently reduce oxidative stress.

Try Milk Thistle Supplements

Milk thistle is a plant (also known as Silybum marianum). As indicated by its name, this plant has high concentrations of silymarin, which is well-known for its antioxidant properties as it increases glutathione levels.

Consider Turmeric Extract

Turmeric is a delicious spice that is frequently incorporated into dishes for flavoring, but it also has a variety of health benefits. Turmeric’s main component is curcumin, which has been shown to potentially assist in restoring adequate levels of glutathione and improve the activity of glutathione enzymes.

Prioritize Quality Sleep

A lack of sleep is linked to increased levels of oxidative stress, hormone imbalances, and even decreased levels of glutathione. A study tracking glutathione levels in 30 “healthy” participants with insomnia found that glutathione activity was significantly lower in those with insomnia.

Optimize Glutathione Supplementation

There are high-quality glutathione supplements out there, however, it is important to note that oral supplementation only allows for approximately 10-30% of nutrients to be absorbed as the rest are destroyed in the digestion process.

That is why at Holtorf Medical Group we offer Glutathione IVs to deliver this powerful antioxidant straight to your bloodstream. All IVs first must be cleared by an HMG physician and from there, you can sit back and relax from the comfort of our IV Lounge, equipped with lounge chairs, free Wi-Fi, complimentary beverages, and more.

Contact us today to book your appointment or learn more


Resources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24155989 https://www.bcm.edu/news/geriatrics/glutathione-deficiency-fat-insulin-aging https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19393193 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29484396 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20579862/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22401887 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2756154/#:~:text=GSH%20deficiency %20or%20a%20decrease,Parkinson's%20disease%2C%20and%20Alzheimer's%20dise ase.


Holtorf Medical GroupThe Holtorf Medical Group specializes in optimizing quality of life and being medical detectives to uncover the underlying cause of symptoms, rather than just prescribing medications to cover-up the symptoms. We are experts in natural, prescription bioidentical hormone replacement and optimization, complex endocrine dysfunction, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and Lyme disease. We’ve dedicated our practice to providing you the best in evidenced-based, integrative medicine that’s not only safe and effective, but provides measurable results.


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