What is so special about glutathione? This amino acid is considered a super antioxidant. It is one of the few nutrients that can neutralize the full spectrum of free radicals in the body. Free radicals are molecules missing an electron in the outer orbit; they ‘steal’ an electron from a healthy cell causing that cell to atrophy and die. Glutathione has an extra electron, binds with free radicals, and neutralizes them.
Glutathione is concentrated in the brain, supports the eye’s lens, retina/macula, cornea, detoxifies, and can be produced by the body — but production declines as we age and/or in the face of poor diet, environmental toxins, stress, trauma, some medications, infections, etc.
Glutathione is a tripeptide made of three amino acids: cysteine, glycine and glutamic acid. It is involved in the the creation and maintenance of bonds in proteins and in moving amino acids across cell membranes. It is concentrated in the brain, supports brain health and vision (the eyes are an extension of the brain), and can be produced by the body.
Concentrated in the Brain
Glutathione is used throughout the body, and is the antioxidant found in the greatest quantity in the brain. Studies have shown glutathione to be significantly deficient in the brains of Parkinson’s patients, thereby exposing them to excessive free radicals resulting in neuron damage.1
Researchers have observed that AD patients also have significantly depleted levels of glutathione, reducing protection from oxidative stress. By implementing non-invasive imaging techniques in the hippocampus, it was discovered that when GSH is depleted in the hippocampus regions of an elderly person the healthy brain suffers mild cognitive impairment, which is known to be present in the earlier stages of AD.2
A study of elderly people living in retirement settings found high levels of glutathione to be linked to better physical health, both in terms of illness and self-rated health.3
Supports Lens Health
The lens of the eye uses a relatively large amount of glutathione and vitamin C, and studies have shown glutathione and vitamin C to be significantly deficient in the case of cataracts in the area of the eyes where the lens sits.4
Glutathione is also an anti-glycating agent, meaning it helps prevent the binding of sugar and protein molecules together, which is part of the natural aging process and also one of the main causes or contributing factors related to cataract formation.
Supports Retinal Health
This potent antioxidant has been shown to help protect retinal cells from damage. Researchers have known for a long time that patients suffering from macular degeneration have 58% less glutathione that patients who are healthy.5
In 2002 researchers looked at the role of glutathione in protecting the retina’s pigment cells. A 4-hydroxynonenal type of fat, implicated in other age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s, is readily damaged by oxidative stress and damages pigmented cells in the retina. They found that, taken in early stages of AMD, glutathione protected the retina from development of extra blood vessels (neovascularization) that develop in advanced macular degeneration.6
This body chemical has sulfur, which sticks to free radicals and heavy metals in the body.7 Glutathione plays a critical role in “taking out the trash.”8 The human body evolved to do basic detoxification. Our modern, polluted world means our bodies must detoxify a significant amount of toxins to maintain good health. Giving our glutathione levels a boost is likely to have a positive impact on health.
Other benefits include support of the gut, kidneys, and lungs, and it may help with diabetes.
Lowered Glutathione Levels
As we age our bodies produce less glutathione. Furthermore, poor diet, toxins, pollution, stress, aging, certain medications, infections, trauma, and radiation reduce glutathione levels. This makes the body’s cells more vulnerable to damage from oxidization, infections, free radicals, and even cancer. Lack of glutathione can overload the liver, hampering its ability to detoxify the body. Excessive alcohol will reduce glutathione levels.
Glutathione is best taken sublingually intraorally as it is not well absorbed through capsules or tablets. Glutathione is not absorbed well taken in capsule or tablet form. Sublingual dosages will typically be lower because they are absorbed 5-10 times more efficiently than capsules or tablets. For more severe condition such as Parkinson’s, intravenous glutathione helps reduce the related symptoms and supports brain health.
How do we get Glutathione?
The liver can produce glutathione if it also has ample supplies of selenium, vitamin C, n-acetyl-cysteine, glycine and glutamine. Alpha lipoic acid, milk thistle extract and turmeric boosts its production in the body as well. But as we age our body produces less glutathione.
Did you know that exercise is a simple and 100% natural, non-invasive way to increase glutathione levels?9 If you exercise at home or in public spaces, it is also free. If you haven’t exercised in a while, start slowly and gradually work up to half an hour of vigorous aerobic exercise every day. For example, try walking, jogging, taking an aerobic class, or playing an aerobic sport. Additionally, pick up weights or do a muscle strengthening routine for 20 minutes, 3 times a week. If you enjoy cardio exercise such as running or weight training, the combination of both increases glutathione the most, compared to completing cardio or weight training alone.
Good food sources include: sulfur rich foods such as cruciferous vegetable (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, watercress, mustard greens), garlic, onions, shallots, avocado, spinach, okra, whey.
Best Glutathione Supplement
The glutathione product that we recommend is ACG Glutathione Spray. This oral spray delivers glutathione with the best possible absorption.
We include ACG Glutathione Oral Spray in a number of discount vision support packages:
New! For the optic nerve: Optic Nerve Support Package B.
For the cornea: Corneal Support Package 2 (with Viteyes, Glutathione, and Revision Formula).
For mitochondria: Mitochondria Support Package (This is a comprehensive package designed to support mitochondrial health. Mitochondria are the energy producers of the cell.)
For Parkinson’s support: Parkinson’s Support Package 1.
- Hauser DN, Hastings TG. (2013). Mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress in Parkinson’s disease and monogenic parkinsonism. Neurobiol Dis Mar;51:35-42. ↩
- Shukla D, Mandal PK, Ersland L, Gruner ER, Tripathi M, et al. (2018). Multi-Center Study on Human Brain Glutathione Conformation using Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy. J Alzheimers Dis. 2018;66(2):517-532. ↩
- Lang JM, Gleiberman L, Harburg E, DiFranceisco W, Schork A. (1994). Glutathione and morbidity in a community-based sample of elderly. J Clin Epidemiol. 1994;47(9):1021–1026. ↩
- Umapathy A, Donaldson P, Lim J. (2013). Antioxidant Delivery Pathways in the Anterior Eye. Biomed Res Int. 2013:207250. ↩
- Sternberg P. (1988). Treating Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Science Writers Seminar in Ophthalmology: Research to Prevent Blindness. ↩
- Ayalaxomayajula SP, Kompella UB. (2002). Induction of vascular endothelial growth factor by 4-hydroxynonenal and its prevention by glutathione precursors in retinal pigment epithelial cells. Euro J Pharm. Aug. ↩
- Lee S, Olsen T, Vinknes KJ, Refsum H, Gulseth HL, et al. (2019). Plasma Sulphur-Containing Amino Acids Physical Exercise and Insulin Sensitivity in Overweight Dysglycemic and Normal Weight Normoglycemic Men. Nutrients. Jan;11(1):10. ↩
- Pizzomo J. (2014). Glutathione! Integr Med (Encinitas). Feb;13(1):8-12. ↩
- Ibid. Lee. (2019). ↩