Like many people, you may have never heard of glutathione before, much less heard it said out loud. It is pronounced “gloo-ta-thigh-own,” and it’s one of the most critical, adaptable, and powerful antioxidants your body produces. Although the human body makes its own glutathione, there are a whole host of things that can drain or counteract your body’s glutathione levels. Low glutathione levels initiate oxidative stress, which in the long term, is bad news for your health.
Oxidative stress occurs when there are more free radicals than antioxidants in your cells. Antioxidants, like glutathione, are responsible for neutralizing free radicals, so when the two become unbalanced, DNA, tissue, and cellular damage occurs. Oxidative stress (1) also plays a key role in accelerating our body’s natural aging process. Unfortunately, excessive, prolonged oxidative stress can also damage the liver and dampen its detoxifying ability.
Aging, chronic stress, environmental toxins, pollution, poor nutrition, infection, illness and disease, and radiation (1) are all causes of glutathione depletion in the human body. Even Wi-Fi overexposure is thought to contribute to ill-health and glutathione depletion (2)(3). With today’s hectic lifestyle and poor diet, we are all exposed to many of these things every day. Thankfully, there are some very effective ways to replenish the level of glutathione in your body, no matter how old you are.
Read on to find out more about how the body uses glutathione, why it’s so crucial, how low glutathione levels could be affecting your health, and what to do about it!
The Top Ways Low Glutathione Levels Can Affect Your Health
According to functional medicine experts at Rahav Wellness in NYC (4), “Glutathione helps activate enzymes and detoxify the body.” It defends against the build-up of toxins and prevents cell damage from harmful free radicals. When cells are damaged, inflammation occurs. This inflammation can lead to some serious issues for your health, including autoimmune problems and certain types of cancer.
As one of the body’s most essential and dynamic antioxidants, maintaining optimum levels of glutathione is exceptionally critical. Here are the top ways low levels of glutathione can impact your health:
- Low energy levels and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Joint and muscle pain
- Brain fog and lack of focus
- Weak immune system function and susceptibility to chronic infections
- Insomnia and other sleep disorders
- Higher risk of heart disease
- Higher risk of cancer
- Possible liver and kidney disease
- Autoimmune disorders
- Neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
- Sluggish metabolism
- Poor skin, nail, and hair health
If you are experiencing any of these health issues, you may be suffering from low levels of glutathione.
Can You Have Too Much Glutathione?
On the other hand, is it possible to have too much glutathione? Surprisingly, the answer is no. There is no scientific evidence to show that having high glutathione levels could be a problem. Just the opposite! Studies actually show that high levels of glutathione (5) promote excellent mental and physical health.
How the Body Makes and Uses Glutathione
This incredible antioxidant does more than just fight free radicals, it also recycles other antioxidants. Glutathione is made up of three vital amino acids- glutamine, cysteine, and glycine. Your body’s liver produces it, reduces it, and regenerates it. It attracts free radicals, heavy metals, and sulfur from the body and assists the liver in expelling them.
It’s more than just an antioxidant, it also assists with several crucial bodily functions, including:
- Building DNA
- Supporting the immune system
- Regenerating Vitamins E and C
- Formation and function of certain enzymes
- Assisting the gallbladder and liver in handling fats
How to Boost Your Glutathione Levels
The fastest and most effective way to boost your glutathione levels is to receive a nutritional IV drip that contains glutathione. A qualified IV therapy clinic can assess your medical history and test the levels of glutathione in your blood to see if you are a good candidate for glutathione IV therapy. It’s a great way to get your levels up quickly, so you’ll start to feel better right away.
There are some ways to build-up your glutathione levels on your own, but it will take more time. Studies show (6) that if you exercise for at least 40 minutes, three times every week for six weeks, your glutathione levels will increase. Following your workouts with a serving of whey protein can also help. Whey protein contains cysteine, an essential amino acid that is a building block of glutathione. Cysteine is usually the rate-limiting factor in its production as the other amino acids tend to be more abundant in the average diet.
Getting plenty of sleep is also essential, but this one can be tough since insomnia is a common issue in people suffering from low glutathione levels. Chronic insomnia actually triggers oxidative stress and depletes glutathione. If you have this problem, you might want to consider trying a natural sleep remedy like melatonin to see if it helps.
You can also build up your glutathione levels over time by including more sulfur-rich foods in your diet. Sulfur is essential for the production of glutathione. Sulfur-rich foods include garlic, onions, cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli and kale), and most meat. On the other hand, dairy and grains are low in glutathione.
Adding a vitamin C supplement to your daily routine can also raise glutathione levels in your blood. Vitamin C is necessary for many body functions, and it’s also an antioxidant. It converts glutathione that has been oxidized back into a usable form.
Some herbal supplements may also help. Turmeric (or curcumin extract) (7) has been shown to increase glutathione levels when taken in a highly concentrated form. Milk thistle supplements (8) also prevent the degeneration of glutathione, which leads to an increased level in the body. Milk thistle is also good for protecting the liver, which suffers when glutathione levels are low.
Alcohol is detrimental to your health in so many ways, it’s probably no surprise that it lowers your glutathione levels, as well. If you want to increase the level of glutathione levels in your body, avoid overdoing it with alcohol. In fact, studies show that glutathione received intravenously (9) can help to undo some of the side effects that alcohol abuse has on the body by reducing cellular damage.
Low glutathione levels can have a severe impact on your health. Boosting the level of this essential antioxidant should be a top priority in everyone’s health and wellness routine. If you are suffering from chronic health issues due to low levels of glutathione, a glutathione IV is the fastest way to get your levels back where they need to be, but adopting any of the aforementioned ways is helpful as well.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.
- How does oxidative stress affect the body?; Medical News Today; Medicalnewstoday.com
- Wi-Fi is an important threat to human health; Elsevier Environmental Research; Sciencedirect.com; July 2018
- Glutathione IV NYC; Rahav Wellness; RahavWellness.com
- High blood glutathione levels accompany excellent physical and mental health in women ages 60 to 103 years; NCBI; PubMed.gov; December 2002
- Effects of exercise training on the glutathione antioxidant system; NCBI; PubMed.gov; October 2007
- Curcumin, a natural plant phenolic food additive, inhibits cell proliferation and induces cell cycle changes in colon adenocarcinoma cell lines by a prostaglandin-independent pathway; NCBI; PubMed.gov; December 1997
- Silymarin protects PBMC against B(a)P induced toxicity by replenishing redox status and modulating glutathione metabolizing enzymes–an in vitro study; NCBI; PubMed.gov; June 2010(9) Glutathione in the treatment of chronic fatty liver diseases; NCBI; PubMed.gov; July 1995