What Is Glutathione and What Does It Do?
Glutathione (gloo-tah-thy-ohn) is an amino acid compound that is naturally present in cells throughout the body. Human cells contain glutathione, the substance made of three amino acids: cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine.
Glutathione acts as an antioxidant, and is very important in your body. It helps combating and preventing cell damage, caused by free radicals. Free radicals occur as a result of a normal metabolic process, and are unstable molecules that can damage the cells in your body.
Your body can produce glutathione in the liver, which makes it setting apart from other antioxidant.
Functions of Glutathione
- Glutathione directly extinguishes reactive hydroxyl free radicals, other oxygen-centered free radicals, and radical centers on DNA and other biomolecules.
- It is a primary protectant of skin, lens, cornea, and retina against radiation damage and other biochemical foundations.
- It’s responsible for detoxification in the liver, kidneys, lungs, intestinal, epithelia and other organs.
- Glutathione is equally important for the regeneration of other antioxidants your body needs, such as vitamin C and vitamin E. It increases your overall antioxidant defense, a task that can never be accomplished just with one substance
Benefits of Glutathione
Fights Oxidative Stress.
Glutathione reduces reactive oxygen species and oxidative stress in the body, which would otherwise damage cells and DNA. Evidence shows, oxidative stress is associated with cancer, inflammation, brain damage, and other health related issues. Glutathione is vital for production and regeneration of other antioxidants, such as vitamin C and vitamin E. Due to its high concentration level it has the capacity to significantly boost the antioxidant defense, a function that cannot be achieved using just one substance.
Glutathione has excellent antioxidant potential. It removes free radicals throughout the body and recharges other antioxidants, thus preventing development of chronic diseases.
Glutathione blocks the production of most inflammatory cytokines. For people who struggle with inflammatory issues due to a specific health related problems, the cytokines may reduce the inflammation to a bearable level.
Increasing a glutathione levels will lower inflammation, however you should also consult your medical care provider to address any existing health related issues, associated with the inflammation problems.
The researchers determined that an aging body produces less glutathione, causing free radicals cell damage, and cognitive decline. Increased oxidative stress from low levels in older people can make the bones more fragile and contribute to osteoporosis. Cells depleted of glutathione are susceptible to damage. A lower level of this antioxidant can accelerate the process that leads to cell injury and rapidly increase aging.
Restoring glutathione levels may slow the aging process, strengthen the bones, and prevent age-related cognitive decline.
Medical research discovered that people suffering from depression, anxiety and stress often experience low glutathione levels. Restoring glutathione level may help to relieve anxiety and calm the nervous system.
OCD and Schizophrenia
People diagnosed with schizophrenia commonly have low glutathione levels. Increasing glutathione levels in the brain, may improve the symptoms of this mental health disorder. People with OCD may have low glutathione levels in certain parts of their brain and high surge of free radicals. Raising glutathione may enhance antioxidant defense, stress resilience, stabilizing mood and reducing symptoms severity.
Autism & ADHD
Children diagnosed with autism have up to 40% lower levels of glutathione than non-autistic peers. Making and restoring the active form of glutathione process associated with certain abnormalities. People diagnosed with ADHD have low glutathione and high oxidative stress levels. Glutathione supplements stabilize glutathione and antioxidant levels.
Your brain needs to detox reactive oxygen species, to maintain good health, and glutathione is the drive that makes this function possible.
If you have a brain disorder or poor cognitive function, it is vital to supply the brain with sufficient support to produce glutathione and other antioxidants.
Alzheimer ’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease known to be caused by oxidative stress. Antioxidants may prevent and slow the progress of the disease. The accumulation of toxic proteins in Alzheimer’s patients, lowers glutathione levels, causing further decline and deficiency.
Oxidative damage contributes to Alzheimer’s disease; thus, some researchers have proposed investigating antioxidants like glutathione to help, but human studies have not yet been conducted.
Patients with Parkinson’s disease may endure the oxidative stress that damages dopamine neurons. Glutathione may help to stop the damaging process, and boosting glutathione level may increase the chances to prevent development of this disease.
Viral infections cause inflammation. The body generates a high level of oxidative stress, thus depleting glutathione levels. Patients with chronic diseases, weakened immune system and susceptible to infections are associated with low glutathione levels. Glutathione deficiency causes the immune cells to lose their ability to fight infections. Boosting glutathione level in the body restores the ability of immune cells to fight the bacteria causing various infectious diseases.
People with IBS have slower enzyme function involved in glutathione synthesis. There is also a low level of cysteine that is a main compound of enzymes. The most critical enzyme involved in quenching free radicals is called glutathione peroxidase. This enzyme uses glutathione and requires selenium to work with harmful substances. High levels of this enzyme causes more oxidative stress that needs to be neutralized. This enzyme also helps renew and strengthen the gut lining.
People who have low activity of glutathione peroxidase and low levels of glutathione are associated with high oxidative stress and are at highest risk for heart attack. Cardiovascular disease is commonly caused by oxidative stress in heart tissues. Elevating glutathione level can reduce free radicals and prevent the risks of stroke or heart attack.
People who are diagnosed with type II diabetes and high blood sugar decrease glutathione in their bodies. Consequently, the buildup of harmful free radicals causes irreparable damages related to heart problems, brain and nerve impairment. Boosting the level of glutathione may prevent and slow down the progress of these issues.
Oxidative stress in the kidneys may destabilize kidney function or even cause irreversible kidney failure. Recent studies suggests that patients with chronic kidney disease who undergo hemodialysis, may benefit from boosting of glutathione, and diminish the symptoms of renal disorder.
In order for liver to have a healthy function, it needs glutathione to neutralize the oxidative stress. Glutathione has a critical role in detoxing the liver, and preserving the sulfur filled antioxidant pathways. If this function is disrupted, it may cause liver disease. If there is a presence of harmful substances, the liver will produce more glutathione to prevent further damages.
Moderate to severe drugs and alcohol abuse, cause the surge of reactive oxygen species. The overproduction of these species may cause the change in the brain function, alter person’s behavior, and cause irreparable damages to these vital organs. Some cases suggest that elevating glutathione can improve addictive behaviors ranging from eating disorders to substance and drug abuse.
Increasing antioxidant defense may prevent brain damage, and support a detoxification process to rid the body from harmful chemicals. Addiction causing chronic alcohol abuse significantly lowers glutathione in the liver. Raising the GSH levels during abstinence improves liver function.
Alcohol abuse may increases oxidative stress in the lungs, which can lead to respiratory issues. Glutathione may prevent a future lung deterioration by reducing oxidative stress.