An antioxidant everyone should know about, glutathione is called 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 and toxic overload, leading to autoimmune diseases, several cancers, or heart attacks.
Antioxidants come to the rescue and usher out those free radicals, heavy metals, and toxins 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.
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 a study explained in the next section indicates otherwise.
Glutathione becomes inactive when it becomes saturated from doing its work collecting free radicals, 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 well as remove toxins.
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 also. Many consider aging diseases are caused by this impairment, leading them to believe maintaining high GSH levels is a key to anti-aging. And there are some who lack the gene that promotes glutathione production. So most of us need to supplement GSH somehow in our toxic environment.
Recent Study Indicates Oral Supplementation can Raise GSH Levels
The Penn State Medical School conducted a human clinical trial using oral glutathione among 54 healthy adults (41 females/13 males), 28 to 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 six months to determine 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 six months, overall GSH had increased 35% in the high dose group. After one month without supplements, most subjects’ GSH levels dropped back to 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.” That study abstract is here.
Other Options in Case You Don’t Trust This Study
While the assumption of GSH oral supplements’ inability to survive the gastrointestinal (GI) tract was in full force, liposomal encapsulation technology (LET) went beyond vitamin C and included glutathione. LET enables whatever is encapsulated to slip through the stomach and into the small intestines for blood absorption. A little pricier, but very effective.
There are less pricey precursor supplements that help the liver create GSH: NAC (N-acetylcysteine), pure unpasteurized whey from grass fed cows (not the body builder stuff), and pure bovine colostrum from grass fed cows are three accessible examples. May your GSH levels be high ’till the end.