February 2, 2015
304 Glutathione [2 Feb 2015]
Last week I mentioned glutathione as an important antioxidant protecting the mitochondrial DNA. It’s worth taking a closer look at its roles and what we can do to promote its production.
The main function of glutathione is to neutralize free radicals and peroxides inside the mitochondria and cell cytoplasma before they can do damage. It also recycles other antioxidants, extending their useful lives, and helps detoxify the cells of the body, especially the liver.
Glutathione is not considered an essential nutrient because it is synthesized in the body – in all cells but mostly in the liver. It is made of three amino acids: L-cysteine, L-glutamic acid and glycine. Cysteine is relatively rare in our food so is a limiting factor in glutathione production. How can we increase our glutathione production?
Glutathione levels cannot be increased by supplementing with glutathione itself as it is broken down in the digestion process. Likewise cysteine, taken as a single amino acid, is destroyed in digestion. There are two ways around this dilemma: NAC and cystine. N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) and cystine are forms of cysteine that survive the digestive process and are readily converted to glutathione. NAC is available as a supplement in capsule form but needs to be taken several times a day for best results. Possibly the best form of cysteine supplementation is with cystine, available in a specially processed undenatured whey protein isolate.
The trace mineral selenium [see #208] is a cofactor for the enzyme glutathione peroxidase, one form of glutathione, so is often classed as an antioxidant along with several vitamins. Vitamin D and SAMe both increase glutathione production. ALA [see #89 and #90] has similar antioxidant and detoxification functions to glutathione, and helps protect glutathione. Silymarin, the active ingredient in milk thistle, also protects glutathione. Certain foods containing sulfur rich amino acids (asparagus, broccoli, avocado, spinach and garlic) also improve glutathione levels.
So why would you want to increase your glutathione levels? To enhance your immune system, detoxify your cells and liver (for example if you use acetominophen on a regular basis), increase your energy and feeling of well-being, and to slow or even reverse the aging process.
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.