REVERSING GLUTATHIONE DEFICIENCYDr. Zoltan P. Rona, MD, M.Sc. August 24, 2015
The Most Important Key to Prevent Aging, Disease, and Death
“Your life depends on glutathione. Without it, your cells would disintegrate from unrestrained oxidation, your body would have little resistance to bacteria, viruses and cancer, and your liver would shrivel up from the eventual accumulation of toxins.” (from Glutathione: Essential Health Aid – Antioxidant. Immune Booster. Detoxifier, by Jimmy Gutman, MD, FACEP)
When people talk about antioxidants, glutathione is not the first thing that comes to mind. But according to experts in the field, it really should be. Over 76,000 medical journal articles attest to the fact that glutathione is the most important molecule manufactured by your body to prevent aging, asthma, arthritis, cancer, cataracts, diabetes, heart disease, dementia, pulmonary fibrosis, Parkinson’s, macular degeneration, and autoimmune disease. Recent reports have also shown glutathione helping some of the signs and symptoms of autism and Alzheimer’s, and yet most people have never heard about it.
Glutathione has been referred to as “the mother of all antioxidants,” “the master detoxifier,” and “the maestro of the immune system.” Unlike other antioxidants, glutathione is found in every cell of the body, with highest concentrations in the liver. It gets depleted with age, poor diet, pollution, prescription and recreational drug use, exposure to toxic heavy metals like mercury, as well as stress, trauma, and radiation exposure.
If there is any disease of any kind present in the body, the existence of glutathione deficiency can be proven. Maintaining a high level of glutathione in one’s system is therefore critical to prevention and recovery from all chronic diseases.
What is Glutathione?
“If you look at longevity of a species – mice, humans, horses, and so on – and you measure the amount of glutathione it produces, the more glutathione a species produces, the longer it lives.” – Joe Pizzorno, ND
Glutathione is a molecule made up of the three amino acids: L-cysteine, L-glycine and L-glutamic (a.k.a. L-glutamate). The power of this tripeptide molecule resides in its sulfur (SH) content, which can bind onto toxins and remove them from the body.
Glutathione is normally recycled in the body but can become deficient if the toxic load is too great. Reducing toxin intake through a healthier diet and exercise helps, but this may not be enough if the body is also low in other antioxidants. Glutathione is critical because it recycles these other antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, and alpha lipoic acid).
Properties of Glutathione
“Glutathione has potent anti-viral properties – if you raise the glutathione level you can stop the replication of most any, at least, intracellular pathogen….but glutathione deficiency produces a pro-viral effect.”– Dr. Paul Cheney, transcribed from a workshop presentation on the clinical management of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Glutathione optimizes peak mental and physical function. It can decrease muscle damage from sports activity as well as increase strength and endurance. In high enough levels, it can shift metabolism from fat to muscle production. The older a person is, the less glutathione is manufactured by the body, and the greater likelihood of illness. Optimize your glutathione level and you will optimize your longevity.
Glutathione is critical for the immune system and to control chronic inflammation that could lead to cellular, tissue, and organ damage. Aside from helping rid the body of toxins, glutathione regulates the immune system to fight infections and cancer.
Glutathione can improve the health of sperm and increase the chances of fertility. It does this by minimizing the damage that can occur to sperm DNA.
Psychiatric illnesses, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression have all been linked to chronic brain inflammation and low levels of glutathione. It stands to reason that this potent anti-inflammatory molecule can help all these conditions.
How Do You Increase Glutathione Levels?
1. Eat glutathione-boosting foods that are high in sulfur like garlic, onions, parsley, avocados, squash, eggs, and cruciferous vegetables like watercress, broccoli, kale, collard greens, cabbage, and cauliflower.
2. If you are not allergic to dairy, consume more non-denatured (bioactive) whey protein. Whey contains a large amount of the amino acid, L-cysteine, one of the building blocks of glutathione. Non-pasteurized organic milk (‘raw’ milk) and cheese that’s free of pesticides, hormones, or antibiotics are good sources. Pasteurization destroys these benefits of raw milk dairy products. One commercial whey protein powder brand with these qualities is ‘Immunocal’, and another is ‘Provitalex’. Many cancer patients use one or the other of these to help fight their disease and recover from the side effects of chemotherapy. Glutathione is not a cancer cure, but some studies show it can reduce the growth of new cancer cells, increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs, and reduce their toxicity.
3. Exercise boosts glutathione levels. Vigorous aerobic exercise and strength training are both beneficial. If you can afford a personal trainer to get you started, then that’s ideal. If you cannot, and haven’t exercised in years, start off with a walking program and gradually build up your fitness so you do an hour of walking each day.
4. Take Setria Glutathione supplements. For years, I’ve been telling people not to use a glutathione supplement because it gets broken down by stomach acid that renders the supplement useless. But with the recent availability of Setria Glutathione, available from numerous suppliers, this is no longer true. Absorption of this new form of glutathione is very high and produces healthy levels of the intact tripeptide. I recommend taking between 250 and 1000 mg daily, depending on the state of health of a given individual. Higher doses are helpful for those suffering from more serious illness.
5. Take an N-Acetyl-Cysteine (N-A-C) supplement. N-A-C has been proven to boost glutathione blood levels. The usual effective dose is 1200 to 2400 mg daily. I wrote an article about N-A-C in a previous Vitality magazine article (see: http://tinyurl.com/nwono9a).
6. Supplement with the amino acid L-glutamine (3000 mg or more daily) because this increases the production of glutathione.
7. Take B complex vitamins, especially folate (5-methylterahydrofolate), vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin form). These are methylation nutrients that aid in the recycling of glutathione by the body. Dosages vary according to the need, as determined by either lab tests or by your natural health care practitioner.
8. Selenium (200 mcg. daily) is required by the body both to manufacture, as well as to recycle, glutathione.
9. Vitamin C and Vitamin E complex (mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols) are also needed to recycle glutathione. High doses of vitamin C (6000 mg daily, or to bowel tolerance) and vitamin E complex (800 IU or more daily) might be needed if serious illness is present.
10. Liver supporting herbs like turmeric (curcumin) and milk thistle (silymarin) also support healthy liver function as well as boost glutathione levels. Other glutathione boosting supplements include alpha-lipoic acid, pine bark extract, and grape seed extract.
Every individual has a different requirement for glutathione. It depends on age, stress, general health, inflammation and disease in the body, and one’s activity level. Work with a natural health care provider to determine your needs and how to optimize your body’s glutathione.
1) Julian Whittaker, M.D. Reap the Benefits of Glutathione. http://www.drwhitaker.com/reap-the-benefits-of-glutathione
2) Amino Acid Studies. http://aminoacidstudies.org/l-glutathione
3) Mark Hyman, M.D. Glutathione: The Mother of All Antioxidants. http://tinyurl.com/y95rale
4) Setria Glutathione. http://tinyurl.com/oxeaqng
5) The Science Behind Setria Glutathione. http://tinyurl.com/pepfbe9
6) The Health Dividend of Glutathione. http://naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/2011-02/health-dividend-glutathione
7) Setria Glutathione Consumer Facts. http://tinyurl.com/pe6fxh4
8) Glutathione Absorption Myth. http://tinyurl.com/ps9wamj
9) Oral Glutathione Absorption. http://tinyurl.com/pelgyfl
10) New Data Indicates Oral Supplementation Can Increase Glutathione, Influence Immune Function. http://tinyurl.com/qdwsubx
11) Dr. Jimmy Gutman quotes. http://tinyurl.com/osfodmj
12) Dr. Mark Hyman quotes. http://tinyurl.com/ntt9bgs
Dr. Zoltan P. Rona practises Complementary Medicine in Toronto and is the medical editor of The Encyclopedia of Natural Healing. He has also published several Canadian best-selling books, including Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin. Visit his website at: http://www.highlevelwellness.ca For appointments, call (905) 764-8700; Office: 390 Steeles Ave. W. Unit 19, Thornhill, ON