Glutathione: Your Body’s Master Antioxidant

What is it? 

  • Glutathione is one of 3 endogenous (made by your body) primary antioxidants.

How is it made? 

  • It’s a combination of 3 amino acids: glycine, glutamic acid and cysteine. 

What does it do? 

  • It functions as an antioxidant in addition to other roles. As an antioxidant, it cleans up free radicals and damage from oxidative stress – a natural by-product of living – in your body. It also is essential for cellular energy, regenerates certain vitamins and supports liver detoxification pathways.

How do I know if I have enough?

  • Good question. Some specialty tests can give us an indication of your glutathione level; however, we typically look at your clinical presentation – this includes the symptoms you are experiencing, however unrelated they may seem, along with your nutritional status, current and prior health conditions, and medications used. Your naturopathic physician can discuss this more with you.

What health conditions can reduce glutathione? 

  • This varies depending on each person. Conditions where there is a higher toxin load, chronic illnesses, disease processes affecting cellular energy and the use of certain medications may have a more significant impact on glutathione. 

Can I increase my glutathione level? 

  • Yes – however, you don’t need to throw unnecessary supplements into your system, so talk with your doctor beforehand. That said, you can take a glutathione supplement (“reduced glutathione”). You can also supplement with the precursor amino acids, if appropriate – cysteine is the one that tends to be more necessary (“n-acetyl cysteine”). 

Why N-acetyl cysteine? 

  • This amino acid precursor tends to be the rate-limiting step in your body’s glutathione synthesis; people tend to have a more adequate supply of the other 2 precursor amino acids. N-acetyl cysteine has some additional benefits, which may include reduction in congestion, lessening of post-nasal drip and respiratory support. 

Are the supplements safe? 

  • Generally, yes – however, it’s always best to check with your doctor before starting anything new.

For additional detail, check out Dr. Pizzorno’s research article here.

Remember, always check with your healthcare provider prior to starting a new supplement.

May you be well.

The information provided here is not intended to replace medical advice or to treat or diagnose any medical condition. Please consult your doctor with specific questions and prior to beginning any significant diet or lifestyle changes.

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