Glutathione (GSH) - “King of the Antioxidants”
Glutathione (GSH) is the PRIMARY antioxidant and detoxifier in cell's cytoplasm
Produced inside EVERY cell. Although non-essential (meaning it does not have to be in diet), this crucially important antioxidant is synthesized “in-house”from L-cysteine, L-glutamic acid and glycine, with cysteine being the rate limiting factor for its production, since it is not available in many foods
Glutathione provides a “Bulls-eye” for oxidation by radicals. Glutathione is a reducing agent (i.e. it donates electrons). The cysteine in thistripeptide (glutamyl-cysteinyl-glycine) provides the biological activity of GSH as a highly reactive free sulphydryl group (SH or thiol group) that neutralizes radicals in a 1-electron oxidation-reduction transfer. The reduced form (GS-SG) is regenerated in a redox cycle involving gluthathione reductase, using NADPH as an electron donor.
GSH + ROS → Neutralized ROS + GS-SG (oxidized GSH)
E.g. 2GSH + H2O2 → GS-SG + 2H2O
GS-SG + NADPH + H+ → 2 GSH+ NADP+
Recycles other antioxidants in the body. Reduces oxidized Vitamin C and Vitamin E to their unoxidized states;
Dehydroascorbate + 2GSH → GSSG + Ascorbate
Helps red blood cells carry oxygen. Helps keep their shape, enhancing their delivery to vital organs; also prevents formation of methemoglobin, an altered form of hemaglobin produced by heme iron-oxidation, which is unable to carry oxygen,;
Needed for protein synthesis, nucleic acid synthesis / DNA repair and cellular function. By aiding amino acid transport across cellular membranes;
Immune system enhancer. Needed for creation / maintenance of T-Cell lymphocytes -the body's frontline defense against infection.
Detoxifies toxins in the body. Including heavy metals, cigarette smoke, fuel exhaust, etc.. (Phase I and II detoxification reactions);
Potent anti-cancer /anti-viral agent
Involved in maintaining brain function
Glutathione is produced in the body and can NOT be ingested directly
Glutathione can NOT be ingested directly. It is manufactured inside your cells from its precursor amino acids, glycine, glutamate and cysteine. Glycine and glutamate are readily available (both in foods and produced in body), but cysteine is a rate-limiting ingredient for glutathione production.
Glutathione production requires the trace mineral selenium
Most oral glutathione supplements have been shown to be poorly absorbed. Ironically, it may interfere with your body's own ability to produce glutathione in the long-term;
Glutathione levels can be increased by consuming cysteine
However --- cysteine is a difficult amino for the body to obtain
Cysteine is a SULFUR-containing amino acid - that contributes to the sulfhydryl group (SH) in the glutathione (GSH) molecule;
Sulfur -Healing Mineral
Some cysteine in foods may not survive digestive journey - and even if it does, it has difficulty entering cells
• Harsh stomach acids can destroy bonds in cysteine consumed in plant or meat sources
• Free cysteine that survives the trip into the bloodstream cannot enter the cells - it needs to be part of a larger molecule
”Cysteine has trouble surviving the trip from your mouth to your cells unless it's part of a larger molecule or protein.”
- Dr. Jimmy Gutman "Glutathione. Your Key To Health
• Mice fed dietary (free) cysteine showed no positive immunological response
Drs. Bounous andBatist, “Immunoenhancing property of dietary whey protein in mice: role of glutathione”, Clinical and Investigative Medicine
Cysteine can be made from the essential amino acid methionine (not produced by the body, so must be obtained from diet) by the methylation pathway. E.g. methionine is in meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, quinoa, buckwheat, sesame seeds, Brazil nuts, and to a lesser degree dry spirulina.
See cysteine and methionine-containing foods at:
Gene deficiency may be at the root of low glutathione levels
Certain genes produce enzymes that allow the body to create and recycle glutathione in the body. E.g. GSTM1, GSTP1 .
These genes are in short supply in about 1/3 of the population, who are more apt to suffer chronic disease. Since these genes were not needed in the pre-industrial era, they probably evolved out of production in our body, but today, we are bombarded with chemical and electromagnetic pollution, which rapidly depletes our mediocre glutathione supplies.
Families with genetic tendencies for lower amounts of glutathione production tend to have certain problems. E.g. schizophrenia, alcoholism, bipolar disease, depression, attention deficit disorder, constipation, and autism.