Few realize the importance of glutathione. It is deemed the master antioxidant because it can regenerate itself after each fill-up of free radicals and go back to work. Free radicals are often the by-product of normal cellular metabolic oxidation. Sometimes they’re the result of toxin or heavy metal cellular contamination. This leads to chronic autoimmune diseases, several cancers, or heart attacks.
But antioxidants usually come to the rescue and usher out those free radicals – if there are enough of them. The liver’s ability to generate or regenerate glutathione and enable cells to contain glutathione within them as intracellular glutathione is largely why it’s called the master antioxidant.
Glutathione in our bodies can go inactive when it becomes saturated from doing its work, but it tends to regenerate itself. Under ideal conditions, 10% of the glutathione remains inactive, or oxidized, while the other 90% is active, or reduced, and continues to balance cell molecules and other antioxidants.
As the active glutathione drops below 90% and allows the inactive to increase beyond 10%, the struggle for optimum health becomes a losing battle. It becomes too difficult to remove toxins naturally. As they build up, the active glutathione diminishes even more. Active or reduced glutathione is also known as GSH, while inactive or oxidized glutathione is known as GSSG. When GSH falls below 70%, darkness descends on one’s immune system.
And wouldn’t you know it, as we age, our ability to regenerate GSSG (inactive or spent glutathione) into GSH (active glutathione) diminishes as well. Many think aging diseases are caused by this impairment, leading them to believe maintaining high GSH levels is a key to anti-aging. Then there are those who lack the gene that promotes glutathione production. So many do need to supplement GSH.
Until recently, the widely held belief has been that normal oral supplementation won’t help raise GSH levels because oral GSH won’t get past the stomach acids and into the small intestines to be absorbed into the blood. But that may not be true.
Recent Study Indicates Oral Supplementation can Raise GSH Levels
The Penn State Medical School in Hershey, Pennsylvania conducted a human clinical trial using oral glutathione among 54 healthy adults (41 females/13 males), 28–72 years of age. They were divided into two groups, both supplementing glutathione. But one group was low dose, 250 mg/day, and the other group took 1,000 mg/day. They ran the trial for 6 months to determine the before and after GSH readings and immune system marker differences.
After only three months, the high dose group showed over two fold improvements in natural killer cell activity. And after the full 6 months, overall GSH had increased 35% in the high dose group. After one month without supplements, most subjects GSH levels had dropped back to the before-trial baseline levels.
The Penn State researchers concluded that “that long-term oral administration GSH is an effective means of enhancing body stores of GSH.”
Other Options in Case You Don’t Trust the Study
While the assumption of GSH oral supplements’ inability to survive the gastrointestinal (GI) tract was in full force, the liposomal encapsulation technology (LET) went beyond vitamin C, and included glutathione – bypassing the issue. LET enables whatever is encapsulated to slip through the stomach and into the small intestines for blood absorption. A little pricey, but very effective.
There are less pricey precursor supplements that help the liver create GSH: NAC (N-acetylcysteine), and Undenatured, unpasteurized whey from grass fed cows (not the body builder stuff) are two accessible examples. May your GSH levels be high ’till you die.