ANTIAGING NUTRITION: ANTIOXIDANTS
Glutathione is a small protein composed of three amino
acids: cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine. It is a
naturally occuring antioxidant, antitoxin, and enzyme
cofactor. This means it helps prevent the production
of free radicials, cleans the body of toxins and boosts
the immune system.
Glutathione is needed to maintain normal function
of the immune system. It also plays a role in protecting
the lungs against damage from germs and pollutants.
Enzyme systems synthesize it, utilize it, and regenerate
it. Glutathione is produced in the liver and is dependent
upon the bodys reserves of key source ingredients.
Glutathione is involved in detoxification. It binds
to toxins, such as heavy metals, solvents, and pesticides,
and transforms them into a form that can be excreted
in urine or bile.
In preliminary research, dietary glutathione intake
from fruit and raw vegetables has been associated with
protection against some forms of cancer.
Other benefits of using intravenous or intramuscular
- preventing clot formation during operations
- reducing the side effects and increasing the efficacy
of chemotherapy drugs (particularly cisplatin in women
with ovarian cancer)
- treating Parkinson’s disease
- reducing blood pressure in people with diabetes
who had high blood pressure
- increasing sperm counts in men with low sperm counts.
- A glutathione nasal spray has also reduced symptoms
in people with chronic rhinitis
Insufficient studies exist to confirm the dosage,
safety, and effectiveness of glutathione.
The effectiveness of oral preparations, the extent to
which oral glutathione can be absorbed, are also unknown
at this time.
Studies that have been completed include:
- Seven healthy people were given a single oral application
of up to 3,000 mg of glutathione, there was no increase
in blood glutathione levels. Further study suggested
that absorption of glutathione can occur in the mouth
when glutathione tablets are placed between the teeth
and the inner cheek.
- A small study of liver cancer patients using 5,000
mg oral glutathione showed modest benefits in women,
but not in men.
- An unpublished preliminary study of eight colon
cancer patients found that oral glutathione appeared
to have anticancer activity.
These study results suggest that oral forms are less
effective than intravenous or intramuscular forms. Further
researchers suggest that supplements other than oral
glutathione may be more effective in raising blood levels
In one trial, blood glutathione levels rose nearly
50% in healthy people taking 500 mg of vitamin C per
day for only two weeks.
Vitamin C helps the body manufacture glutathione.
Other nutritional compounds that may help increase glutathione
Vitamin B6, riboflavin, and selenium are required
in the manufacture of glutathione.
NOTE: The extent to which any of
these nutrients effectively increases glutathione levels
in humans remains unclear.
Dietary glutathione is found in fresh and frozen fruits
and vegetables, fish, and meat.26 Asparagus, avocado,
and walnuts are particularly rich dietary sources of
Symptoms of Deficiency
A deficiency in glutathione my result in other amino
acid deficiencies, leading to: diabetes, low sperm counts,
liver disease, cataracts, and HIV infection, respiratory
distress syndrome, cancer, and idiopathic pulmonary
There is very little evidence that taking glutathione
supplements provides any benefit.
Therapeutic Dosages – for those with a proven
glutathione deficiency, glutathione may be administered
intravenously, intramuscularly, or by aerosol. Dosage
and administration should only be done by a health professional.
- No side effects or interactions are known with
oral administration of glutathione.
- Cigarette smoking is also associated with low glutathione
levels because it increases the rate of utilization
- Certain medicines may interact with glutathione.
Refer to drug interactions for a list of those medicines.
IMPORTANT: more work needs to be done
to determine the dosage, safety, and effectiveness