GLUTATHIONE: MASTER ANTIOXIDANT
NutriStart is pleased to announce the arrival of the latest addition to our line of liposomal products: Liposomal Glutathione. In honor of this momentous occasion, this blog will examine the wonders of glutathione, along with the advantages of the liposomal form.
Most health conscious people have at least heard of glutathione, even if they have not given it much thought. Yet, since glutathione is one of the most important nutritional compound for human health and longevity, many would benefit from knowing more about it.
Glutathione is essential for preventing cancer, heart disease, dementia, premature aging, and many more diseases. And, glutathione deficiency is found occurring in virtually all seriously ill people. Fortunately, the body produces its own glutathione. Unfortunately, it is depleted by aging, infections, medications, pollution, poor diet, radiation, stress, toxins, and trauma.
WHAT IS GLUTATHIONE?
Glutathione is a substance produced naturally by the liver, constructed from the amino acids cysteine, glutamine, and glycine. It is necessary to protect cellular health, and is the single most important antioxidant that we require in order for the body to properly detoxify.
Found throughout the body, the highest concentrations of glutathione are found in the liver, and lining of the respiratory tract and nasal cavities. Inflammation, lung irritation (such as from smoke inhalation), and exposure to toxins, significantly reduces glutathione levels, as the body uses it to remove harmful chemicals.
Glutathione has special status (the “Master Antioxidant”) because it is the only key antioxidant which acts inside the cells: all other antioxidants work outside the cell membranes. Glutathione is therefore essential for protecting the DNA inside cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. And, healthy DNA replication is the key component of longevity.
Another reason glutathione is critical for good health, is it has the ability to recycle all other antioxidants. However, when our body is overwhelmed with too much oxidative stress, or too many toxins, glutathione becomes depleted. Then, in the absence of sufficient glutathione, all our antioxidant defenses are weakened. At this point, we can no longer fight free radical damage (the underlying cause of aging and disease), nor can we effectively protect ourselves from cancer, infections, and toxins.
MEDICAL USES OF GLUTATHIONE
There are over 80,000 clinical studies on glutathione, and, while not commonly prescribed, it is used in advanced medicine. Intravenous glutathione has been used to treat many ailments, indicating its widespread effects and critical importance in most disease states. Diseases treated with glutathione include AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, alcoholism, cancer, cataracts, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, glaucoma, heart disease, hepatitis, kidney disease, liver disease, male infertility, osteoarthritis, and Parkinson’s disease.
Inhaled glutathione (using a nebulizer) is used in treatments for emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, asthma, and other lung diseases. Glutathione is also a master detoxifier, cleaning the body of chemical contaminants (including chemotherapy residue), drug poisoning, xenoestrogens, heavy metals, and radiation. Medical Glutathione
Clearly, there is almost no ailment that would not benefit from the addition of glutathione to treatment protocols. However, as we shall see, while those in good health can make their own glutathione, those with certain health issues can no longer manufacture it internally, and most glutathione products are ineffective.
SUPPORTING GLUTATHIONE LEVELS
For those in general good health, who want to maintain high levels of glutathione, there are foods and supplements we can take to accomplish this.
From a food perspective, sulfur is required for the synthesis of glutathione, and sulfur is found in two amino acids: methionine and cysteine. These two amino acids are primarily derived from dietary proteins such as beef, fish and poultry, and especially, eggs.
In the vegetable kingdom, the sulfur-rich foods that contribute to elevating glutathione are mainly garlic, onions, and the cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, collards, cabbage, cauliflower, watercress, etc.). Of the cruciferous vegetables the champion for raising glutathione is broccoli sprouts. I will point out here, the cruciferous vegetables (except broccoli sprouts) should usually be cooked before eating, since when consumed raw, they can inhibit iodine uptake by the thyroid gland.
The best supplements for elevating glutathione are as follows.
Vitamin C (500-1000 mg, three times daily)
Alpha Lipoic Acid (100-200 mg, three times daily)
N-acetyl cysteine (500 mg, two times daily)
Milk Thistle (80% silymarin – 250 mg two times daily)
Whey Protein Isolate (15 to 25 gr, once or twice daily)
Selenium (200 mcg daily)
WHO NEEDS A GLUTATHIONE SUPPLEMENT?
It is not just those with illness that are low in glutathione. As our health declines so do our levels of glutathione, so, while we might not yet be ill, just being at a low ebb of health will correspond with glutathione deficiency.
Therefore, maintaining healthy levels of glutathione can help prevent a further decline in health, if we have started down that slippery slope. Now, let’s have a look at some people who would especially benefit from taking liposomal glutathione.
As we age, our levels of glutathione also decline steeply. In fact, the Lancet medical journal found the highest glutathione levels in healthy young people, lower levels in healthy elderly, even lower levels in the elderly who are sick, and the lowest levels in hospitalized elderly. This, of course, stands to reason, since the body’s requirement for glutathione is highest when dealing with life-threatening diseases.
Clearly we need glutathione when ill, and perhaps as a health measure to prevent illness and premature aging, but even the healthy can benefit from keeping optimal levels of glutathione.
Athletes, for example, benefit from glutathione supplementation. Research has shown that when glutathione levels are elevated in test subjects, there is an increase in endurance and strength, decrease muscle damage, and reduced recovery time.
Those with Autism
Children with autism, appear to have a less active glutathione system than children without autism. Study
Injections of glutathione have been proven to increase male fertility by improving “the morphology and motility of sperm”. Study
Those with IBD
“Inflammatory bowel diseases, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, are characterized by increases in oxidative stress and simultaneous reductions in oxidative defenses such as glutathione concentrations.” Study
Heavy Drinkers and Tylenol Abusers
Two commonly ingested substances that deplete glutathione levels are alcohol and acetaminophen. Thus those who either drink alcohol frequently, or those taking Tylenol regularly for pain, would benefit from taking glutathione. And it would be most helpful for treating hangovers. (For those unaware, the combination of alcohol and Tylenol is particularly damaging to the liver.)
Those with an insufficient amount of protein in their diet often show reduced glutathione levels. Studies have found that “reduced glutathione synthesis and turnover can be induced in healthy non-elderly adults by limiting dietary protein or just the sulfur-containing amino acids found in dietary protein”. Study
In subjects who received glutathione there was a significant reduction in wrinkles, and an increase in skin elasticity, compared with those taking placebo. Study
Normally, glutathione is recycled in the body, except when the load of toxins becomes too great, or when one is coping with a serious ailment. But, genetics also plays a big role in an individual’s ability to manufacture glutathione.
It is currently believed that at least 30% (or more) of the population may be what are known as “poor methylators”. This genetic malfunction (often related to childhood trauma), causes certain people to be unable to create, and recycle, glutathione. Usually, these are people with autoimmune, metabolic, neurological, and psychiatric diseases (and difficult-to-diagnose ailments).
Methylation essentially makes toxins water-soluble, helping the body to neutralize some of the toxic properties, and allowing it to effectively remove these toxins (chemicals, heavy metals, and xenoestrogens). Poor methylators require extra “methyl-donors”, which are nutrients that facilitate the function of methylation. These methyl-donors (B-12, B-6, folic acid) are essential to allowing the body the ability to produce and recycle glutathione.
While the average person can utilize common forms of B-12 (cyanocobalamin), B-6 (pyridoxine) and folic acid, poor methylators require more advanced versions of these nutrients, since they cannot convert the common forms into their next metabolic step. They require B12 as methylcobalamin, B6 as P5P (Pyridoxal 5-Phosphate), and folic acid as methylfolate.
However, those poor methylators with serious ailments, or subject to undue amounts of toxins, even when provided with the correct forms of the methyl-donor nutrients, may still not be able to product sufficient glutathione to offer healing potential. This is where liposomal glutathione enters the picture.
WHY TAKE LIPOSOMAL GLUTATHIONE
Most supplemental forms of glutathione are ineffective. Conventional glutathione products are rapidly oxidized during digestion, and fail to actually increase blood levels of glutathione in the body. The only forms ever proven to substantially elevate levels of glutathione are injection, sublingual, intravenous, and liposomal.
(Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1992;43(6):667-9. The systemic availability of oral glutathione. Witschi A1, et al. Study
Commonly used by naturopaths, IV therapy, is only occasionally used by the medical profession, and then only for the most severe conditions. These include Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, male infertility, chemotherapy toxicity, and kidney problems associated with heart bypass surgery.
The problem with IV (and injectable) glutathione therapy is that (aside from the fact that it evidently hurts) it can cause side effects in some people. This can occur when the dose is too high, in those with chronic illness (especially Lyme disease), or among those who are poor methylators. Side effects can include mood imbalance, extreme fatigue, nausea, and allergic reactions.
Glutathione treatment, whether oral or intravenous, is usually within the range of 250 to 600 mg daily. Occasionally the dose is higher, for serious ailments, but should be increased only under the guidance of a health professional.
For a detailed, scientific analysis of glutathione pathways and functions, follow this link: Glutathione
WHAT DOES LIPOSOMAL MEAN?
Liposomal technology was pioneered for pharmaceutical drugs, and the improved therapeutic value and greatly increased delivery of liposome-encapsulated drugs and nutrients has been consistently validated scientifically. Until recently, liposomes were used exclusively by the drug industry, but now liposomes are beginning to be used for the specific oral delivery of certain dietary and nutritional supplements.
Currently, liposomes are believed to be the most bioavailable oral way to deliver nutrients to the body, and they are especially effective for herbs and nutrients that are poorly absorbed, and/or easily damaged by the digestive system: like glutathione.
Making a liposome starts with liquid micro particles of the material one wishes to use (in this case glutathione), which are then inserted into phosphatidylcholine, a fat-soluble medium. This essentially creates micro-bubbles (just a few millionths of an inch in diameter), that are capable of entering through the gut lining, without being digested or damaged by harsh stomach acids.
These bubbles then travel through the bloodstream, and are absorbed as needed by various cells in the body. Because the liposomes are made with material similar to the cells, (phosphatidylcholine is a phospholipid, a component of all cell membranes), the nutrients they carry are easily delivered directly into the cell.
Creating liposomes is an expensive and time consuming process, which is why such products cost more than simple encapsulated drugs or nutrients, and why few companies produce liposomal products.
NutriStart’s Liposomal Glutathione product is manufactured using a proprietary Cold Structure TechnologyTM. This means that the product was never exposed to high temperatures or pressure, which could damage delicate nutrients.