Volume 9, Issue 3

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 18 of 31 | # 47 | Page 19 Highlights • High blood pressure, age, and poor nutrition are among some of the health factors that can cause glutathione levels to decline. • Glutathione is an antioxidant that fine-tunes the immune system and helps counter oxidative stress. • Supplemental forms of glutathione, and its precursor N-acetylcysteine, can help maintain healthy glutathione levels. What is glutathione? Often referred to as the "master" antioxidant because of its capacity to enhance the utilization and recycling of other antioxidants, glutathione (GSH) is a small protein found in virtually all cells. Its primary functions within the body include supporting the immune system, providing antioxidant protection, and removing toxins. The glutathione molecule is made up of three amino acids: cysteine, glycine, and glutamate. These amino acids act as glutathione "precursors," and effectively increase the body's production of glutathione. One of the most studied glutathione precursors is cysteine. What is cysteine? Cysteine is abundant in many foods, particularly foods high in sulfur or protein, such as eggs, soybeans, lentils, chicken, turkey, and fish. Given that the body can make cysteine from the amino acid methionine, it is technically a non-essential amino acid. However, there are times when the body may not be able to keep up with cysteine production. For instance, people that have high blood sugar or high blood pressure levels may need more cysteine to help maintain healthy levels of glutathione— thus cysteine is also considered a semi-essential or conditionally essential amino acid. What is N-acetylcysteine (NAC)? N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is a derivative of the amino acid cysteine. When consumed, NAC gets absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, sent to the liver, and converted to cysteine. The liver uses cysteine to produce glutathione, which then enters the bloodstream and gets distributed throughout the body. What causes glutathione levels to become depleted? Health factors such as aging, infection, poor nutrition, excessive exercise, alcohol use, exposure to toxins, By Adin Smith, MS 10 Research-Based Benefits of Glutathione and NAC (N-acetylcysteine) genetic defects, and high blood sugar levels may lead to an unhealthy glutathione status. Fortunately, some of these factors are "modifiable," meaning that making healthy lifestyle choices can support healthier glutathione levels. Conversely, older adults, people with certain medical conditions, and athletes that train extensively may need additional glutathione support to maintain adequate levels. Considering all of the factors that may cause glutathione to become depleted, this article is here to help you learn about the research-based benefits associated with having adequate body-stores of glutathione. The benefits of glutathione and NAC 1. Supports the immune system The body's immune cells require high amounts of glutathione to function optimally. In a six-month trial analyzing the effects of glutathione (GSH) supplementation on immune system function, those who supplemented with GSH had higher blood levels of glutathione and greater natural killer cell activity than individuals taking a placebo. This is significant, given that natural killer cells play an important role in neutralizing infections. Immune function declines with age, which may be due to falling glutathione levels. Notably, a 2008 study comparing the immune functions of postmenopausal and younger women found that, after supplementing with NAC for 4 months, the older women's immune responses more closely matched those of the younger women. Additionally, glutathione levels increased in the white blood cells of postmenopausal women taking NAC. These results suggest that positive changes in immune activity are related to having adequate glutathione levels. 2. May help reduce oxidative stress Oxidative stress occurs when an imbalance exists between free radicals and antioxidants in the body, and can lead to a variety of health problems. A 2018 study found that athletes with low glutathione levels who supplemented with NAC for one month experienced increased glutathione blood levels, reduced oxidative

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Abby's - Volume 9, Issue 3