The good news is your body’s cells create this powerful antioxidant—that’s why they call it an endogenous intracellular antioxidant. The bad news is your glutathione levels decrease with age, exposure to modern-day toxins, stress, and disease. Glutathione supplements play a pivotal role in raising glutathione levels, providing several health beneﬁts including immune, heart, brain, and skin health.
Whether your glutathione levels are lowered due to aging or toxins in your environment (those include chemicals in food, water, air, and cosmetics, ultraviolet rays, medications, alcohol, and smoking), poor nutrition, viruses, or chronic disease—raising them can oﬀer signiﬁcant beneﬁts.
While combating cell-damaging oxidative stress, glutathione’s unique chemical building blocks not only have the power to balance dangerous free radicals, but they can also regenerate other antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E that become depleted in the free radical ﬁght as well as eliminate toxic drugs and heavy metals.
Studies also show that patients who survived heart attacks had much higher glutathione levels than those who did not. Research has linked low glutathione levels to people with untreated hypertension and, once treated with medication, showed an increase in glutathione levels and a decrease in oxidative stress.
According to the Brain Research Journal, the “most reliable and robust risk factor for some neurodegenerative diseases is aging.” Since the aging process is associated with increased oxidative stress resulting in low glutathione levels, scientists continue to research the importance of increasing glutathione levels for brain health.
Data indicates a deﬁnitive correlation between low glutathione levels and decreased brain health, as it is widely regarded as the most critical brain antioxidant. Because oxidative stress contributes to Alzheimer’s disease, researchers are investigating treatments with antioxidants to prevent or slow disease progression. Alzheimer’s studies with mice suggest reduced plaque buildup and memory improvement with increased glutathione.
Researchers are also studying increasing glutathione levels in Parkinson’s patients as an early measure to prevent the disease because of its antioxidant prowess to stave oﬀ the damaging oxidative stress that harms dopamine neurons. Studies believe that glutathione can not only mitigate but can also decrease the rate of damage to brain tissue.
Lyme disease, another neurologic disease, has been shown to weaken with increased levels of glutathione.
Since researchers are ﬁnding a link between glaucoma and age-related cataracts to a depletion in glutathione levels, and ensuing oxidative stress–they are pursuing antioxidants as viable therapies. Studies have also found that, if taken at the early stages of advanced macular degeneration, glutathione protects the retina from neovascularization (developing extra blood vessels) which advances the disease.
Glutathione can help decrease the risk of diabetes. Studies show that higher levels of glutathione can be attributed to better insulin levels as it decreases the fat stored in the belly, which is a leading contributor to diabetes. As blood sugar levels increase, glutathione levels decrease, and research suggests that boosting glutathione levels may alleviate complications of Type 2 Diabetes like heart and nerve problems. Studies have also shown that increased levels of glutathione through supplementation can reduce oxidative stress and improve insulin resistance.
Because some autoimmune diseases correlate with low glutathione levels and high oxidative stress, glutathione has an important eﬀect on the immune system, as it can stimulate or inhibit the immune system response. Elevating glutathione levels to combat oxidative stress may help in autoimmune diseases. Data indicates that glutathione’s ability to modulate immune system cells’ reactions has antimycobacterial, antiviral, and antiparasitic immune-enhancing implications. Due to glutathione deﬁciency in HIV, tuberculosis, diabetes, and cystic ﬁbrosis patients, researchers are studying the therapeutic strategy of augmenting glutathione levels as a supplemental treatment and to prevent tissue damage.
While most of us are applying a wide assortment of products onto our skin, many people are now discovering the beneﬁts of protecting their skin and rejuvenating it from within. From anti-aging to skin lightening, studies show that increasing glutathione levels shows promising results in skin health. Recent data indicates that stimulating the production of glutathione reduces the appearance of wrinkles, improves elasticity, and even stimulates cell division, which could enhance wound healing.
Several studies also suggest that as glutathione reduces skin cells’ production of melanin, it could eﬀectively reduce the appearance of dark patches associated with aging. While glutathione is a skin-lightening agent, data also shows that continued oral supplementation is needed to maintain its eﬀects.
Researchers are studying the positive eﬀects of increasing glutathione levels in patients with psoriasis, a common autoimmune disease aﬀecting the skin, who have heightened levels of oxidative stress.
Increased glutathione levels are even showing promising results in treating acne, as studies reveal patients with this condition have lower levels of glutathione. Glutathione’s beneﬁts include relieving acne’s high oxidative stress levels while increasing skin regeneration.
Because oral glutathione used in studies has shown to beneﬁt skin elasticity, regulate melanogenesis (skin lightening), and reduce wrinkles, researchers are encouraged by their ﬁndings and feel further studies are warranted.
Glutathione’s detoxiﬁcation powers work to eliminate environmental toxins, so if your glutathione levels are low, these toxins metabolize in the fat tissues, which results in weight gain. Studies show that increasing glutathione levels will aid in weight loss by decreasing your body’s oxidative stress.
While we know exercise’s multitude of health beneﬁts, intense training can increase free radicals. Some studies show that glutathione supplementation can help decrease muscle fatigue caused by exercise. Researchers have also found increasing athletes’ glutathione levels can help decrease inﬂammation and exercise-related sports injuries.
Described by the medical community as a nearly pandemic condition with the potential to cause loss of limb or even loss of life, peripheral vascular disease, a circulatory system disease, can see reduced symptoms with glutathione supplements. Data also indicates positive results in increased blood circulation and pain-free walking when glutathione levels were increased.
Scientists have unlocked many of this multiple-functioning molecule’s superpowers and, lucky for us, further glutathione research continues. Because when we raise our glutathione levels, we’re enjoying the protection of a detoxiﬁed body, increasing the strength of our heart and brain functions, and basking in the glow of our radiant skin and enhanced energy.