The scientific community has known about this intra-cellular molecule since the late 1800’s, however; it is only in the last 20 years or so that we have really begun to understand the vital role Glutathione (GSH) plays in optimal cellular function and how its modulation can contribute to health, vitality and overall wellbeing.
Glutathione: The Next Household Word
You may or may not have heard of glutathione, even though over tens of thousands of medical articles have highlighted its importance. Optimizing glutathione levels will shortly join the list of factors known by everyone to have an impact on our health and well-being, along with vitamin supplementation and cholesterol regulation.
Glutathione is a small protein produced naturally in every cell of our body. It is made up of three protein building blocks, called amino acids. These are glutamic acid, cysteine and glycine. The cysteine amino acid contains a sulfur group responsible for the chemical properties of the whole glutathione protein.
An Essential Health AID
There are three major roles of glutathione in the body: Antioxidant, Immune booster, and Detoxifier. Even cells in the healthiest of individuals constantly need to replenish their glutathione supply.
The Master Antioxidant
Antioxidants participate directly in the destruction of reactive oxygen compounds called free radicals. These by-products of a cell’s normal function can’t be avoided, but exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or other sources promotes their emergence. Free radicals have been linked to muscle fatigue during exercise and aging.
For this reason, the body is equipped with a variety of antioxidants. Vitamins C and E are natural antioxidants but do not occur naturally in the body. These and other antioxidants actually depend on glutathione to function properly, which is why glutathione is called “the Master Antioxidant”.
Food for the Immune System
Glutathione helps build your immune system’s resistance and improve your chances of staying healthy. Lymphocytes are cells of your immune system. Glutathione is essential for lymphocytes to increase in number, produce antibodies, and function efficiently.
A Natural Detoxifier
Our food and water sources are becoming increasingly contaminated with chemicals, as is the air that we breathe. Supplemental detoxifiers such as glutathione help to counter the effects of the toxins we inhale and ingest. By physically binding to toxic compounds in cells, glutathione helps make them soluble – and harmless. The body can then eliminate these disarmed toxins in the bile and urine.
Raise Glutathione Levels—How?
The fact is, you can’t ingest glutathione to feed it to your cells. Glutathione must be manufactured within your cells. What you can do is help this natural process by giving your body the glutathione building blocks it needs. The limiting factor in your daily intake of building blocks is the amino acid cysteine.
Cysteine, traveling alone as an amino acid through our digestive system, is poorly absorbed and very little of it will actually make the trip from our mouths to our cells. Luckily, when cysteine molecules bind to each other to travel in pairs, they can survive this process. They do this by forming a bond between sulfur molecules. These bonded cysteine amino acids are then called ‘cystine’. Although this sulfur bond is resistant to the
digestive process, it is easily broken if submitted to heat or mechanical stress.
Glutathione ≠ Fastest skin whitener
Contrary to what others believe, Lightening of skin complexion is just a “side effect” of this master antioxidant. Other commercially available glutathione products being marketed as “whitening product” actually contains other ingredients that are responsible for the whitening effect of the skin. Besides, the end-product glutathione can be destroyed by gastric juices once it pass on the stomach down to the intestines. Some of these products may contain ingredients that might be harmful and may cause undesirable effects to one’s body.