It seems like everywhere you turn there’s someone touting a secret cure-all that will relieve all your health woes. Whether it’s to turn back the hands of time, shed unwanted pounds, boost your energy levels, or heal from a chronic illness – everyone’s got some “magic concoction” to improve your health.
As great as it would be to have some magical “cure-all” – that’s just wishful thinking right?
While there certainly isn’t some “secret” to health, science may have discovered a compound that truly can improve just about every facet of your health. The compound I’m referring to is glutathione. And today we’re going to dive into exactly why glutathione is so important, what depletes it, and how you can naturally boost your levels of this mighty molecule.
What Exactly Is Glutathione?
Glutathione, also referred to as GSH, is a tripeptide composed of three amino acids – glycine, cysteine, and glutamic acid.1 Glutathione is a naturally occurring intracellular antioxidant found abundantly in nearly every cell in your body. This potent molecule plays such a crucial role in our bodies, it’s even been dubbed “the mother of all antioxidants.”
Just a handful of the critical roles glutathione plays in your body include:2,3
- Scavenging and neutralizing harmful free radicals
- Acting as a signaling molecule and modulating your immune response
- Regenerating other important antioxidants like Vitamins C and E
- Supporting mitochondrial function (the powerhouse of your cells)
- Transporting toxic heavy metals, like mercury, out of your cells
- Regulating cellular proliferation and apoptosis (programmed cell death)
Considering glutathione is such a key player in many basic cellular functions, it’s no surprise that a deficiency in this important substance can have far-reaching implications.
Glutathione Deficiency Symptoms
Potential early warning signs of a glutathione deficiency might include:
- Regularly feeling tired or fatigued
- Difficulty getting quality sleep
- Persistent brain fog
- Low immunity and frequent illnesses
But unfortunately, most of the time, the effects of reduced glutathione levels are often much more insidious – and much more serious. You see, without adequate glutathione to keep free radical levels in check, these harmful molecules begin causing unprecedented levels of oxidative damage. And oxidative damage is the root cause of nearly every chronic health concern known to man including:4
- Endocrine diseases like diabetes
- Cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke
- Neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
- Increased susceptibility to infectious diseases
- Accelerated aging
Glutathione is crucial to the health of every single cell in your body. So it makes sense that without enough glutathione, over time, your overall health can go into a tailspin. And after seeing that list of serious implications linked to inadequate glutathione levels, you’re probably wondering what exactly causes reduced glutathione levels in the first place.
Glutathione Depletion – Why You Might Have Reduced Glutathione Levels
Glutathione depletion can often be caused by a combination of a few factors which are:
- An increased demand for glutathione
- Suppression of cellular glutathione formation
- Inadequate intake of glutathione
Let’s take a deeper look at these.
Increased Demand for Glutathione
The more free radicals you have in your body, the higher the demand and utilization of available glutathione will be. Some things that increase the demand for glutathione – and therefore deplete glutathione levels – include:5
- Alcohol consumption: Your body uses glutathione to metabolize alcohol – so the more alcohol you consume the more glutathione your body uses up.
- A high toxic burden: Our bodies are designed to process and eliminate any toxins we come into contact with through our natural detoxification pathways. But when your body becomes overwhelmed with the number of toxins you’re exposed to, it can burn out your ability to properly detox and exhaust your glutathione supply.
- Anything that increases inflammation: There are more obvious things that increase inflammation like lack of sleep, a diet high in inflammatory foods, smoking, or underlying infections. But there are also some less obvious things that can contribute to your overall inflammation like exposure to EMFs, an unhealthy gut, polluted indoor air, or hidden mold.
If your demand for glutathione is significant, eventually your body won’t be able to keep up, and your glutathione levels will slowly become depleted.
Suppression of Cellular Glutathione Formation
Your cells are genetically programmed to produce glutathione on an as needed basis – meaning as glutathione is “used up” your cells will be triggered to produce more of this crucial antioxidant. But studies are finding that exposure to naturally occurring toxic compounds known as mycotoxins can actually alter your cells ability to adequately form glutathione. These mycotoxins can make their way into your cells and directly suppress the gene function needed to synthesize the enzymes necessary for glutathione formation.6
This is particularly troublesome because encountering mycotoxins isn’t a rare occurrence. Chances are you come into contact with some level of mycotoxins on a daily basis – whether it’s through the food you eat or the air you breath. And if these tiny toxins begin to accumulate in your cells, they can significantly hinder your ability to produce sufficient levels of glutathione.
To learn more about the dangers of mycotoxins and how you can protect yourself, head over to my article Mycotoxins: The Hidden Danger Lurking In Your Kitchen.
Inadequate Intake of Glutathione
Our bodies naturally produce glutathione, but we can also utilize glutathione we take in. Your diet plays a role on both sides of the glutathione benefits equation – the foods you eat can either deplete or replenish your glutathione supply. And the truth is, the modern American diet is the perfect prescription for glutathione depletion.
Consuming foods that are anti-inflammatory and chock-full of antioxidants is crucial to maintaining healthy glutathione levels. And unfortunately, many of us simply don’t eat nearly enough unprocessed, real, and antioxidant-rich foods. So let’s take a look at what foods best support adequate intake of glutathione.
What Foods Are High in Glutathione?
Foods that are particularly high in glutathione and compounds that support the production of glutathione include:7
- Yellow squash
While these foods all have higher levels of glutathione and glutathione precursors, the truth is, following a diet that supports healthy glutathione levels is actually quite simple. Focusing on consuming a well-rounded diet that incorporates lots of fresh fruits and veggies, high-quality protein, and healthy fats are your best bet for supporting healthy glutathione levels.
But sometimes – particularly if you’re battling an acute or chronic illness, recovering from toxic mold exposure, or are concerned about glutathione depletion – you may benefit from a concentrated dose of this master antioxidant. And fortunately, there are some simple and effective ways to supplement glutathione.
Glutathione Injections vs Supplement Pills vs Inhalation
There are several ways you can supplement glutathione including:
- An oral glutathione supplement: Taking a daily dose of liposomal glutathione like that found in my Glutathione Essentials Capsules is a simple and effective way to ensure you’re consistently replenishing your levels of this crucial antioxidant. I recommend incorporating glutathione into your daily supplement routine simply as a maintenance dose to support your overall health (click here to get 10% off your first order through my online store).
- A glutathione injection or IV treatment: Glutathione can also be administered through intramuscular injection or via intravenous vitamin infusion therapy. Administering it this way bypasses the digestive system and allows higher concentrations of glutathione to be delivered directly to your cells. This can be an extremely effective way to give your body a significant boost in antioxidants and can be particularly useful as a complementary therapy in the treatment of many conditions.
- Inhaled glutathione: Aerosolized or nebulized glutathione is another powerful way to supplement glutathione. Inhaled glutathione is particularly useful in the treatment of respiratory disorders – as it can be directly absorbed by the lungs and used to repair damage to your respiratory tract.
Glutathione dosage will vary greatly depending on what route it’s administered and exactly what glutathione supplementation is being used for. If you’re interested in trying glutathione via injection, IV, or inhalation, I strongly recommend seeking the guidance of an experienced functional medicine practitioner. They will help you figure out the best type of glutathione to use, as well as the best course of action to treat the root cause of your symptoms.
If you’re new to the functional medicine approach, head over and check out my article How to Choose a Good Integrative and Functional Medicine Doctor.
When It Comes to Your Health, You’re in the Driver’s Seat
Glutathione truly is the “mother of all antioxidants” – we rely on adequate levels of this mighty molecule to survive and thrive. Supporting healthy glutathione levels can help you age gracefully, combat illness and chronic diseases, and skyrocket your energy levels.
And while understanding and harnessing the power of glutathione is a powerful tool to add to your toolbelt – the truth is there’s no single secret to health.
The day-to-day choices you make about how you eat, move, sleep, and think are what really count when it comes to your overall health. Everything else is just an “extra” to give you an edge in optimizing your health. If you’re ready to make your health and the health of your loved ones a priority, I’ve got you covered with the most up-to-date research to help you make informed choices that fit your lifestyle.
To get started, you can check out my blog – it’s chock-full of resources and articles. And when you’re ready to take it even deeper, you can sign up for my newsletter. You’ll get exclusive access to all my best advice – all you have to do is enter your name and email address in the form below.
Now it’s time to hear from you. Were you surprised to learn exactly how important glutathione is to your health? What steps are you taking to keep your glutathione levels healthy? Leave your questions and thoughts in the comments below!
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The product mentioned in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information in this article is not intended to replace any recommendations or relationship with your physician. Please review references sited at end of article for scientific support of any claims made.