Glutathione: Understand the Importance of this “Master Antioxidant”

( Glutathione, or GSH, is often called the “master antioxidant”. Able to actually replenish other antioxidants as they become polluted with free radicals, it is the most important antioxidant for immune system protection. It’s normally produced in the body from within our liver. But due to our toxic environment, lifestyles, and diets, that production capacity can be overwhelmed as we endure more and more oxidative stress inherent in today’s world, leading to chronic or terminal disease and dementia.

Researchers have determined that it’s impossible to fortify ourselves with glutathione orally; it tends to break down in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, similar to B12. It has to be injected, absorbed through transdermal patches, or with sublingual tablets or sprays.

Some foods like cruciferous veggies are rich in glutathione, but not enough can be absorbed to overcome immunity and energy issues from glutathione deficiencies. Sulfur rich foods such as garlic and onions are even better, but still probably not good enough if you’re GSH deficient.

 How important is glutathione really? I’ll let Dr. Mark Hyman explain in this short video.

Effective Supplement Precursors to Enhance GSH Production in Your Liver

Intracellular recycling GSH is formed from precursor amino acids: glycine, glutamate, and cysteine or cystine. Cysteine is the most critical because it is mostly missing from our diets and often gets destroyed in the GI (gastrointestinal) tract if it is alone and not part of a compound. That’s where N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) comes in.

Non-prescription NAC as a supplement compound enables the cysteine to sneak through the gut intact.  It is available as an inexpensive supplement at all health food stores and online. NAC is also useful for decongesting bronchial pathways. It’s the cysteine that promotes glutathione production.

A metabolite of vitamin D3, calcitriol appears to also help promote GSH production. So keep your vitamin D3 levels up.

Two great superfood sources for high GSH production are unadulterated, undenatured whey and colostrum. They are both from bovine sources that are grass fed and not hormone or antibiotic injected. Colostrum is raw milk from the mother cow’s first feeding of calves, which is converted into a powder. The same for whey, which is converted to powders from milk solids.

Disregard denatured or pasteurized whey that is sold as a protein source for bodybuilders and athletes with claims of being unadulterated. Those whey products won’t do much for GSH production.

For developing the highest GSH levels within your cells, whey or colostrum from pure raw milk is necessary. A product called Immunocal is a very effective whey-based GSH promoter. But it’s pricier than NAC.

Alternatively, milk thistle, the herb that strengthens and detoxifies the liver, has recently been discovered to enhance glutathione production. This can be another less expensive approach that serves more than one purpose.

Folate, the natural form of folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12 are useful building blocks for glutathione as well. Remember though: B12 decomposes in the gut. So make sure you get sublingual tablets or use B12 patches that bypass the gut issues.

GSH Direct External Sources

Speaking of patches, there are now glutathione patches available. And if you’ve read anything about liposomal technology for vitamin C, there are also liposomal glutathione products. Liposomal technology encapsulates vitamin or mineral molecules in lipids to get through the GI tract and are more easily absorbed through fatty cell walls.

These newer, pricier patch and liposomal approaches may (or may not) have one drawback. They infuse you with GSH, bypassing your production means. That could (or could not) atrophy your liver’s normal function of creating and recycling GSH.