What is Glutathione?

0 Comments April 14, 2015Food Benefits, Supplements

Ultra Botanicals GlutathioneGlutathione is a nutrient-like molecule that is one of the most powerful protective substances in the human body. Its many jobs include: eliminating toxic chemicals; maintaining cell proteins; supporting immunity; acting as an antioxidant; and maintaining the status of vitamins C and E.1

Glutathione Sources

Glutathione is both supplied by the diet and produced by the body. All cells can make glutathione, and the liver produces the highest amounts because of its central role in detoxification.

The best dietary sources of glutathione are freshly prepared meats, poultry and fish, and fresh fruits and vegetables (both raw and cooked).2 In the United States, usual dietary intakes of glutathione span a wide range from 3 milligrams to nearly 250 milligrams a day.2,3 Most people obtain only about 50-60 milligrams from their daily diet.3

Some plant foods such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, onions and garlic can help boost internal synthesis of glutathione, while others including tea, prunes, blueberries and cherries are antagonistic to glutathione.1,4 Glutathione is also available as a dietary supplement marketed under the brand name Setria®, a highly pure and stable form of reduced glutathione.

Except for fresh-freezing, food processing methods destroy glutathione. Canned foods, cured and dried foods, cereal and grain products, dairy products, sweeteners, condiments and most juices (except orange juice) do not provide appreciable amounts of glutathione. Therefore, diets that are high in processed foods and low in fresh foods are a risk factor for glutathione inadequacy.

Foods that provide ample amounts of glutathione include:

Fruits Vegetables Meats
Apples Acorn squash Beef (grilled, roasted)
Bananas Asparagus Chicken (baked, fried)
Grapefruit Avocado Fish
Oranges Broccoli Ham (boiled)
Peaches Carrots (raw) Hamburger (pan fried)
Strawberries Spinach Pork
Watermelon  Tomatoes (raw)  Steak (grilled, pan fried)

Protective roles in the body

The highest amounts of glutathione are found in the liver and kidneys, intestines and lung lining fluid, where it detoxifies ingested
chemicals and inhaled pollutants. Glutathione is present in the mucus lining of the entire GI tract and can intercept and neutralize
toxins before they can be absorbed. In the lung lining fluid, glutathione not only acts as a barrier but also enhances the power
of specialized immune cells that form the body’s first line of defense.1,5

Throughout the body glutathione acts as an antioxidant, reacting with free radicals so as to render them harmless. Glutathione
also helps to regenerate vitamins C and E, two of the body’s other important antioxidants. Thus, glutathione not only acts
directly to prevent oxidative damage to cells, but also indirectly by supporting a powerful antioxidant team.1

These protective functions occur continually in all major organ systems – not only the liver, kidneys, intestines and lungs, but
also the brain, heart, skeletal muscle, skin and immune system.

Factors that deplete glutathione

Many factors affect glutathione status. One inescapable factor is age. Glutathione status generally begins to weaken around
age 45 and declines quickly after age 60.7,8 The loss in glutathione protection may lead to an increase in oxidative stress, which
in turn may lead to accelerated aging.

Lower glutathione status has been found in association with:

  • Lifestyle factors – smoking, drinking alcohol excessively, or taking multiple prescription or over-the-counter drugs1,9,10,11
  • Environmental factors – ultraviolet radiation, ionizing radiation, oil fumes, saturated fats, pollutants and chemicals12
  • Obesity – excess fat places added oxidative stress on the body which may deplete antioxidants13,14
  • Diseases – certain diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, kidney disease, Parkinson disease, lung disease, and age-related eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration may lead to lower levels of glutathione1,3,15,16,17,18

Whenever oxidative stress is increased in association with age, disease, lifestyle or environmental factors, glutathione may
be used up faster than it can be produced. This increase in oxidative stress may lead to premature aging.

Definitive studies have not been conducted to determine the degree of protection glutathione might provide, because they are
very costly and long-term. Still, there is evidence of benefit from other types of studies. For example, an observational study
of older individuals found that those who enjoyed generally good health, such as better self-rated health and better cardiovascular
health, had higher glutathione levels than those who scored lower on various measures of health.19

The role of glutathione supplementation

When the body cannot make enough glutathione to keep up with demand, increased dietary intake and/or supplementation
may be beneficial. Studies have shown that taking dietary supplements of glutathione can raise glutathione levels in critical
tissues such as the lungs, intestines and kidneys, as well as blood plasma.20,2122,23,24

Since the best diets provide about 250 milligrams of glutathione daily and most people have intakes that fall far below that,
150-200 milligrams appears to be a reasonable target for healthy people to close the gap. Those who desire additional support
might want to consider more. An upper safety limit for supplemental glutathione has not been established, but high intakes
of 3,000 milligrams per day have not caused any adverse symptoms.

When choosing a supplement, it is important to select a trusted name with high purity and to make sure the label reads “reduced
glutathione.” Glutathione is marketed in supplements under the brand name, Setria® Glutathione, a pure and natural source
of reduced glutathione produced by Kyowa Hakko Bio Co., Ltd., a leading global ingredient and pharmaceutical manufacturer.
Setria® Glutathione is recommended for use both in dietary supplements and skincare products.

References

1Jones DP. 2008; in press.
2Jones DP et al. Nutr Cancer. 1992;17:57-75.
3Flagg EW et al. Am J Epidemiol. 1994;139(5):453-65.
4He M et al. J Nutr. 2004;134:1114-19.
5Samiec PS et al. Toxicol Sci. 2000;54(1):52-59.
6Gauthier TW et al. Pediatr Res. 2005;57(1):76-81.
7Lang CA et al. J Lab Clin Med. 1992;120(5):720-25.
8Van Lieshout EM, Peters WH. Carcinogenesis. 1998 Oct;19(10):1873-5.
9Moriarty SE et al. Free Radic Biol Med. 2003;35(12):1582-88.
10Joshi PC et al. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2007;292(4):L813-23.
11Yeh MY et al. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2007;176(3):270-76.
12Richie JP. http://www.kyowa-usa.com/multimedia/nutritionals/seminar-richie-10-24-2008.html.
13Vincent HK et al. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2007 Nov;9(6):813-39.
14Skalicky J et al. Clin Chem Lab Med. 2008;46(4):499-505.
15Samiec PS et al. Free Radic Biol Med. 1998;24(5):699-704.
16Ashfaq S et al. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2006 Mar 7;47(5):1005-11.
17Richie JP et al. Nutr Cancer. 2008;60(4):474-82.
18Cohen SM et al. Br J Ophthalmol. 1994 Oct;78(10):791-94.
19Julius M et al. J Clin Epidemiol.1994;47(9):1021-26.
20Hagen TM et al. Am J Physiol. 1990;259;G524-29.
21Kariya C et al. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2007;292:L1590-97.
22Aw et al. Chem Biol Interact. 1991;80:89-97.
23Iantomasi T et al. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1997;1330:274-83.
24Favilli F et al. Br J Nutr. 1997;78(2):293-300.

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