There are very few supplements that I take every single day of every single year – many I rotate in our out depending on my goals at the time, and what is most relevant. Glutathione, however, is a staple – it really helps my energy and my brain power! Glutathione is not your average antioxidant, and here are some reasons why:-
The first is that glutathione is one of your primary antioxidants. It protects every cell from oxidative stress and damage, which helps cells to work better and keeps them young!! This makes glutathione is a great anti-aging supplement. This is particularly important in the brain, which has the highest levels of oxidative stress. The brain accounts for only 2% of your body weight, but consumes 20% of the body’s oxygen. Given that it uses so much oxygen, it subsequently produces a lot of reactive oxygen species and free radicals. Glutathione helps to counter those and keep oxidative stress to a minimum. It is also neuroprotective, preventing the death of brain cells caused by the amyloid plaques that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. So glutathione can help to protect against Alzheimer’s!
The second benefit is that glutathione assists liver detoxification. It does this by combining with toxic elements and facilitating their excretion. Deficiencies in glutathione impair our ability to detoxify harmful substances. Conversely, the toxic substances themselves can deplete glutathione – it’s a double-edged sword.
There are many toxic insults to the body including toxics metals, mycotoxins, pesticides, etc – and all can and do deplete glutathione. Poor diet, stress, trauma, chronic infections, aging, medications, and radiation can further deplete glutathione. And yet glutathione is key in detoxing these toxic agents and countering these biological stressors.
The third and less well recognized benefit of glutathione is in balancing brain chemistry. In fact, studies have shown significant improvements in social behavior in cases of depression and bipolar disorder with supplementation of N-acetyl cysteine, a precursor to glutathione. It is thought that glutathione makes receptors in the brain more sensitive to dopamine and serotonin – two crucial neurotransmitters for healthy brain function. Anti-depressants have been found to deplete glutathione, again setting up yet another double-edged sword – the medications taken to try to help depression may worsen one of the contributing factors to the depression itself.
You can see now the importance of healthy glutathione levels. People living high-stress lives, with high toxic input, are more in need of glutathione. For me, even though I live a pretty clean life, it is one of my fundamental health-promoting habits. If I have a long day with patients, or I’m sitting down for a session writing my book, I’ll make sure I have my glutathione in the morning and often another dose in the afternoon, just to boost my energy and cognitive function. Generally speaking though, one morning dose of 500mg is sufficient to get the benefits.
One of the issues in boosting glutathione is in how to effectively supplement it. Many supplements of glutathione taken orally are not effective as they break down in the digestive tract and cannot be well absorbed and utilized by the body. Liposomal glutathione is the best form, and the form that I use exclusively. The way liposomal glutathione is created allows it to be absorbed across the mucous membranes of the digestive tract without being “digested” and broken down in the gut. There are several good brands around, I take one by Researched Nutritionals (available here), but have used Seeking Health and Liv-On Labs as well with good results.
Glutathione may not be the best tasting supplement around, but I promise it’s worth it for the benefits that it brings!!