Glutathione: The amino acid that prevent oxidative stress in most cells and helps to trap free radicals that can damage DNA and RNA.

Glutathione is actually a compound classified as a tripeptide made up the amino acids gamma-glutamic acid, cysteine, and glycine and is also known as gamma-glutamylcysteinylglycine or GSH.  Like carnitine, glutathione is not technically one of the amino acids. It is a compound classified as a tripeptide, and the body produces it from the amino acids cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine. Because of its close relationship to these amino acids, however, it is usually considered together with them.

The primary biological function of glutathione is to act as a non-enzymatic reducing agent to help keep cysteine thiol side chains in a reduced state on the surface of proteins. Glutathione is also used to prevent oxidative stress in most cells and helps to trap free radicals that can damage DNA and RNA. There is a direct correlation with the speed of aging and the reduction of glutathione concentrations in intracellular fluids. As individuals grow older, glutathione levels drop, and the ability to detoxify free radicals decreases.

Supplemental glutathione is expensive, and the effectiveness of oral formulas is questionable. To raise glutathione levels, it is better to supply the body with the raw materials it uses to make this compound: cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine. The N-acetyl form of cysteine, N-acetyl­cysteine (NAC), is considered particularly effective for this purpose

Function and Benefits of Glutathione

  • Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant and detoxifies harmful compounds in the liver, which is then excreted through bile.
  • Glutathione is also found in the lungs and the intestinal tract. It is needed for carbohydrate metabolism and appears to exert anti-aging effects, aiding in the breakdown of oxidized fats that may contribute to atherosclerosis.
  • A significant component of the collective antioxidant defenses, and a highly potent antioxidant and antitoxin in its own right.
  • Glutathione is a very important detoxifying agent, enabling the body to get rid of undesirable toxins and pollutants. It forms a soluble compound with the toxin that can then be excreted through the urine or the gut.
  • Glutathione is required in many of the intricate steps needed to carry out an immune response. For example, it is needed for the lymphocytes to multiply in order to develop a strong immune response, and for ‘killer’ lymphocytes to be able to kill undesirable cells such as cancer cells or virally infected cells.
  • Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that is produced in the liver. The largest stores of glutathione are found in the liver, where it detoxifies harmful compounds so that they can be excreted through the bile. Some glutathione is released from the liver directly into the bloodstream, where it helps to maintain the integrity of red blood cells and protect white blood cells.
  • lutathione is the major antioxidant produced by the cell, protecting it from ‘free radicals’ (‘oxygen radicals‘, ‘oxyradicals’). These highly reactive substances, if left unchecked, will damage or destroy key cell components (e.g. membranes, DNA) in microseconds. Glutathione recycles other well-known antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E, keeping them in their active state.

Deficiency Symptoms of Glutathione

  • A deficiency of glutathione first affects the nervous system, causing such symptoms as lack of coordination, mental disorders, tremors, and difficulty maintaining balance. These problems are believed to be due to the development of lesions in the brain.
  • A study sponsored in part by the National Cancer Institute found that people with HIV disease who had low glutathione levels had a lower survival rate over a three-year period than those whose glutathione levels were normal. As we age, glutathione levels decline, although it is not known whether this is because we use it more rapidly or produce less of it to begin with. Unfortunately, if not corrected, the lack of glutathione in turn accelerates the aging process.

Rich Food Sources of Glutathione

avocado, watermelon, asparagus, grapefruit, potato, acorn squash, strawberries, orange, tomato, cantaloupe, broccoli, okra, peach, zucchini, spinach and walnut

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