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How is Your Glutathione?

Posted By Matt Angove, ND, NMD, Saturday, March 17, 2012
Updated: Thursday, January 30, 2014

In 1994, the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry stated, "Disease states due to glutathione deficiency are not common.”

Well, 25 years and 90 thousand journal articles later we have found this statement to be false on all levels. Glutathione is recognized as an extremely important intracellular antioxidant that also plays a central role in the detoxification and elimination of potential carcinogens and toxins. Studies have found that glutathione synthesis and tissue glutathione levels become significantly lower with age, leading to decreased ability to respond to oxidative stress or toxin exposure.

The higher the glutathione peroxidase in the plasma or red blood cells, the more your body is running through and out of glutathione. Now consider the follow…

Total glutathione peroxidase activity was elevated in females 65 years of age or older. Cigarette smoking significantly elevated glutathione peroxidase. Alcohol elevated glutathione peroxidase, with the highest levels seen in drinkers who also smoked. Increased glutathione peroxidase was also seen in vigorous exercise, especially triathletes and marathoners.

According to the National Cancer Institute, dairy products, cereals and breads are low in glutathione. Fruit and vegetables have moderate to high amounts of glutathione. Frozen versus fresh foods had similar amounts of glutathione. Processing and preservation resulted in considerable loss of glutathione.

A 27% reduction in glutathione has been reported in the cerebrospinal fluid of schizophrenic patients.

Studies have shown that dietary glutathione enhances the metabolic clearance and reduces net absorption of dietary peroxidized lipids, which cause intense cellular damage.

  • High altitude exposure reduces glutathione levels.
  • Glutathione functions as an antioxidant and can maintain vitamin C in its reduced and functional form.
  • Chronically low glutathione levels are seen in premature infants, alcoholic cirrhotics and individuals with HIV.

Glutathione increases sperm motility patterns and sperm morphology. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial of infertile patients, patients were randomly and blindly assigned to treatment with one injection every other day of either glutathione at 600 mg or an equal volume of placebo. All the glutathione selected patients showed an increase in sperm concentration and a highly statistically significant improvement in sperm motility, sperm kinetic parameters and sperm morphology. Want to get pregnant? Make sure your husband has optimal levels of glutathione.

From the journal of Digestion:Glutathione is extremely important in normal functioning of the pancreas, being needed for normal folding of the proteins that will ultimately form key digestive enzymes when the pancreas is stimulated after a meal. In patients with chronic pancreatitis, it has been found that glutathione is often significantly depleted, suggesting that lack of glutathione has a role in the generation and/or maintenance of the disease. In addition, many patients suffering from chronic pancreatitis appear to be under xenobiotic or oxidant stress, creating an even greater need for glutathione. Since the pancreas is under relative glutathione "stress” during the normal process of packing and secreting digestive enzymes, it is easy to see how the lack of glutathione could have a role in chronic pancreatitis.

From the Journal of Brain Research Reviews: Glutathione depletion can enhance oxidative stress and may increase levels of excitotoxic (toxins that excite neurons to the point of death) molecules, which may initiate cell death in specific nerve cell populations. Evidence of oxidative stress and reduced glutathione status is found in Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

From the Annals of Pharmacotherapy: Glutathione is important in DNA synthesis and repair, protein and prostaglandin synthesis, amino acid transport, metabolism of toxins and carcinogens, enhancement of immune function, prevention of oxidative cell damage and enzyme activation.

From the Journal Acta Dermato-Venereologica: Low levels of blood glutathione were found in patients with pemphigoid, acne conglobata, polymyositis, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, systemic lupus erythematosus, atopic dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis.

From the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology: Intracellular glutathione enhances the immunologic function of lymphocytes (perhaps the most important immune cell line in preventing infection and cancer). Low levels of glutathione limit the optimal functioning of T cells. Cytotoxic T cell (necessary to eliminate cancer) responses and interleukin-II-dependent functions are inhibited even by a partial depletion of the intracellular glutathione pool.

From the journal of Ocular Pharmacological Therapy: Susceptibility of the lens nucleus to oxidative damage and loss of transparency has been shown in experimental animal models, including exposure to hyperbaric oxygen, x-ray and UVA light. Depletion of glutathione allows the levels of oxidant to damage lens tissue and structure. From the Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Science: An increased incidence of low glutathione levels in apparently healthy subjects suggests a decreased capacity to maintain metabolic and detoxification reactions that are stimulated by glutathione. The authors stated that glutathione status, physical health, and longevity are closely related.

From the Lancet: The plasma glutathione in young, healthy adults was 0.54 umol/L; in healthy elderly it was 0.29 umol/L; in elderly outpatients it was 0.24 umol/L; and in elderly inpatients it was 0.17 umol/L. Aging results in a decrease in plasma glutathione and an increase in oxidative damage in apparently healthy individuals.

Simply put, if you want young cells and the ability to overcome disease you need to work on getting your glutathione levels up!

Visit Dr. Matt Angove's blog here for more informationhttp://drwholeness.com/blog/.

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