Glutathione and its benefits

  • Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant known for its anti-aging and detoxifying properties.
  • Studies found that low levels cause various diseases.
  • Boosting levels however may provide health benefits like the reduction of oxidative stress. 

Glutathione is an antioxidant found naturally in the body. Several people swear by its supposed health benefits such as having anti-aging properties along with its positive effects on autism, fat metabolism and cancer. 

Read on to know more about this antioxidant and what studies say on its effects on the body. 

What is glutathione?

Glutathione is a very strong antioxidant that the body produces and uses every day. It is made up of a combination of three types of amino acids, which make all of the proteins in the body. 

One unique trait of glutathione that is not true of most antioxidants is it being produced by the body, specifically in the liver. 

Glutathione has several important functions such as: 

  • making DNA, the carrier of genetic information 
  • boosting weakened immune functions
  • forming sperm cells
  • helps combat certain free radicals
  • support enzymes function
  • reforms vitamins C and E
  • carries mercury out of the brain
  • assist the liver and gallbladder deal with fats
  • aids in  regular apoptosis or cell death

So far, low glutathione levels and some diseases have been kinked by researchers. Glutathione levels can be increased via intravenous (IV) supplementation or can be also available in oral supplements either in capsule or liquid form. 

Supplements like milk thistle, N-acetyl cysteine and superoxide dismutase can be taken to stimulate the  production of glutathione in the body. 

Increasing your consumption of healthful foods and lowering exposure to environmental toxins are also ways of naturally boosting your glutathione levels.  

What are the benefits of glutathione?

1. Antioxidant activity

Very high levels of free radicals may help cause aging and is also a precursor to various diseases. Glutathione may help stave off the damaging effects of free radicals thereby protect the body from diseases. 

2. Preventing cancer progression

Although a study suggests that glutathione may help stop the development of cancer, the same study also shows that the antioxidant may cause tumors less sensitive to chemotherapy. Further studies are needed to confirm the effects of glutathione on cancer.  

3. Minimizing cell damage in liver disease

According to the findings of a 2017 clinical trial, glutathione can be used in the treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease due to its powerful antioxidant properties and potential to detoxify chemicals naturally produced in the body, as well as pollutants and drugs. 

Researchers however noted that bigger studies should follow to study this effect. 

4. Boosting insulin resistance

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Insulin resistance, a condition driven by type 2 diabetes, occurs when cells in the body  don’t respond well to insulin and can’t move glucose from the blood into cells that use it for energy. 

A 2018 study reveals that insulin resistant people particularly those who had complications like neuropathy or retinopathy tend to have lower levels of glutathione. A 2013 study also showed similar findings. 

5. Reducing Parkinson’s disease symptoms 

Some research indicates that maintaining glutathione levels may help with the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease like tremors and rigidity. While results seem to support intravenous supplementation as a potential therapy, more research is required to provide evidence about oral supplementation. 

6. Improving ulcerative colitis damage

Ulcerative colitis has been linked to oxidative damage and stress. A 2003 study on rats indicates that glutathione supplementation can reduce some oxidative damage to the colons of the animals. Although for humans, more studies are needed. 

7. Treating autism

 Researchers in a 2011 study discovered that both oral glutathione supplements and injections may help treat some effects of autism, although more research is required to determine its effects on specific symptoms. 

Key Points

Glutathione is a very strong antioxidant produced in the cells. Researchers have linked low levels with multiple medical conditions.

While supplements may be effective for some people, they may not be safe for everyone. 

Before starting glutathione supplementation, discuss it with your doctor to make sure it doesn’t interfere with the other medications you’re taking.  

Source: Medical News Today

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