What Is GSH?
Glutathione is an antioxidant, a molecule that helps fight free radicals.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that form in response to factors like your diet and the environment. When more free radicals exist than antioxidants, oxidative cell damage occurs. This can lead to inflammation and a variety of health issues ranging from high blood pressure and diabetes to Alzheimer’s disease and more.
Antioxidants are critical as they help keep things in healthy balance. Your body makes some antioxidants, but others comes from external sources like your diet or supplements like GSH.
In addition to being an antioxidant, GSH also plays a part in your body’s:
Metabolism of toxins and cancer-causing substances
Natural creation and repair of DNA
Production of protein and prostaglandin, a compound with hormone-like effects
Activation of enzymes
Glutathione also helps with the breakdown of nutrients and the regulation of important body processes, such as the immune response.
What Is Glutathione Used For?
Glutathione is purported to reverse the aging process, prevent cancer, and preserve memory. It is also said to protect against a wide range of health problems,1 including:
Hardened arteries (atherosclerosis)
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Alcohol use disorder
GSH is an antioxidant that help balance free radicals. Having too many free radicals can cause damage at the cellular level, which is how many diseases start. Antioxidants like GSH can help prevent diseases that result from inflammation caused by oxidative stress.
Can Glutathione Help Autism?
A small study published in Medical Science Monitor in 2011 shows a connection between low glutathione levels and autism spectrum disorders.2
For the study, 26 children ages 3 to 13 with an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis were assigned to eight weeks of treatment. They received either oral glutathione supplements or a glutathione-containing skin lotion.
Results showed that glutathione supplements helped increase participants’ glutathione levels to various degrees. The study’s authors call for further research to explore the effects of using glutathione supplements for those with autism spectrum disorders.
Possible Side Effects
Due to a lack of research, little is known about the side effects of using glutathione supplements.
However, there’s some concern that the use of glutathione supplements may cause cramping and bloating. In addition, some people may experience allergic reactions to glutathione supplements, such as a rash.3
Dosage and Preparation
There is not enough scientific evidence to determine the proper dose of GSH. Some suggest that supplementing with N-acetylcysteine (NAC, or whey) may be more effective.1
Various doses have been studied in research investigating specific medical conditions. The proper dose for you may depend on several factors, including your age, sex, and medical history.
In some cases, healthcare professionals administer glutathione through use of an IV to treat atherosclerosis, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and side effects of chemotherapy. hemodialysis, and bypass surgery.
For some conditions, glutathione can also be inhaled and given through a nebulizer.
If you’re considering the use of glutathione for a condition, make sure to consult your healthcare provider before starting your supplement regimen. Self-treating a chronic condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.
Sources of GSH
Glutathione is readily found in certain foods, such as fruits and vegetables. A study published in Nutrition and Cancer found that dairy products, cereals, and breads are generally low in GSH. Fuits and vegetables have moderate to high amounts of GSH, and freshly prepared meats are relatively high in GSH.4
Glutathione dietary supplements and personal care products are widely available for purchase online and in many natural-foods stores, drugstores, and vitamin shops.
Although glutathione plays a vital role in the body, the benefits are thought to be primarily due to the cysteine that helps form it.1 Other supplements, such as N-acetylcysteine (NAC), may provide the cysteine needed to raise glutathione levels in the body in a less expensive way.
According to limited research, increasing the body’s glutathione through diet or supplements can help with certain health conditions.
Food GSH Content
Asparagus-highest glutathione of any food 28.3
Red bell pepper 5.5
Green bell pepper 3.4
Sources: Glutathione in foods listed in the National Cancer Institute’s Health Habits and History Food Frequency Questionnaire. Jones DP Nutr Cancer. 1992;17(1):57-75.; Alan Pressman “Glutathione. The Ultimate Antioxidant”; Leo Nollet “Handbook of Analysis of Active Compounds in Functional Foods”, pp.73-74; Lester Packer “Handbook of Antioxidants”, pp. 551-552
Foods That Stimulate Glutathione Production
Certain chemicals (found in foods and spices are known to contribute to glutathione production in the body, assist in recycling oxidized glutathione back to its reduced (non-oxidized) form, and also boost the synthesis and the activity of important glutathione enzymes – glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and glutathione S-transferase (GST).
Food Sources of Glutathione Precursors Include the Following:
Milk thistle helps to prevent glutathione depletion in the liver. It is also a natural liver detoxifier and liver protectant.
Asparagus is the highest plant-based source of glutathione.
Okra is also naturally high and assists in the elimination of the mucoid plaque in the small intestines.
Rice bran, high in Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) promotes the synthesis of glutathione in the body.
Several spices found in Indian curry including turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, black seeds (black cumin), and curcumin contain glutathione.
The sulfur containing vegetables (kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions, garlic, cauliflower, bok choy, watercress, mustard, horseradish, turnips, rutabagas, kohlrabi) assist in the making of glutathione in the body (glutathione is a sulfur containing molecule).
Pink Sulfur Salt(Black Salt)
Grape seed extract
Ripe seeds of the green bean
Peaches, and watermelon
Goat whey protein powder (Raw)
Pycnogenol from pine bark.
Brazil nuts – the highest natural source of selenium. Selenium is a co-factor for the enzyme glutathione peroxidase. (1-2 Brazil nuts per day – no more).
If you want to get the most glutathione out of raw, uncooked foods be sure your gut is healthy. If that means you must take a daily probiotic or even change your diet to eliminate candida, then work on your gut so you can maximize your glutathione potential. This major antioxidant is a primary necessity for your body to maintain vibrant health.