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From Staying Young to Hacking Hangovers: A Guide to Glutathione

By: Bulletproof Staff

From Staying Young to Hacking Hangovers: A Guide to Glutathione

In the last ten years or so, “antioxidant” has become a buzzword in the health community. It gets thrown around a lot. If you’ve looked into nutrition, you may know that berries are full of antioxidants, as are green veggies, coffee, grass-fed butter, fish, and many other foods.

It’s great that antioxidants have made it into the spotlight, because unlike some health trends (looking at you, tofu), antioxidants really are a key to improving your performance. They neutralize little bundles of destruction called free radicals, curbing cellular damage and inflammation. Free radicals are also a driving mechanism behind aging, so it’s no surprise that antioxidants decrease the risk of most major age-related diseases [1].

There are hundreds of antioxidants, each of which has unique benefits. This article is going to focus on the most powerful one in the human body: glutathione.

Antioxidants like vitamin C and lipoic acid certainly make the grade, but when it comes to neutralizing free radicals, they pale in comparison to glutathione – so much so that researchers have nicknamed glutathione “the master antioxidant [2].” Every single cell in your body produces glutathione, which is what makes it a crucial aspect of immunity and detoxification. Today’s polluted, high-stress world saps your glutathione stores. Boosting your levels back up can keep you fit, resilient, clear-headed, and even hangover-free [3]. Here’s a complete guide to how glutathione works, what it does for you, and how to take it.

What is Glutathione?

Glutathione is a sulfur-containing molecule every cell in your body makes from the three amino acids L-glutamine, L-cysteine and L-glycine.

Among its duties, glutathione protects fats from oxidation, supports energy-producing mitochondria, boosts immunity, and makes sure your brain functions at its peak [4]. Glutathione recharges other antioxidants like vitamin C, making them more effective at fighting inflammation.

Glutathione itself also protects against inflammation, toxins, free radicals, and pathogens. You can think of it as your body’s natural detox agent: This powerful antioxidant becomes a cofactor for dozens of detox enzymes that neutralize damaging free radicals [5].

Optimal glutathione levels also benefit your gut, cardiovascular system, vision, and fat burning ability [6].

Your body makes its own glutathione and uses it to combat inflammation, infections, stress, and toxins from your diet and environment. The modern world is toxic, especially if you’re breathing in city air and working a stressful job.  Stressful daily life can quickly drain your glutathione stores [7]. That’s when you can use a little help from a glutathione supplement.

 

Who Can Benefit from Glutathione Supplements?

Almost everyone. Because glutathione is in every cell in your body, it supports all kinds of systems.

  • Fertility. Because it’s so important to reduce inflammation and toxins in the body before getting pregnant, glutathione supplements can help boost fertility [8].
  • Toxicity. Excessive free radicals increase oxidative stress, quickly draining your glutathione tank. That makes sense considering your liver is your biggest glutathione-containing organ, and it plays a crucial role in detoxification. Glutathione reduces heavy metals, free radicals, and other toxins by carrying them into your bile and stool for excretion [9].
  • Sleep problems. Toxic overload becomes an often-overlooked sleep-stealing culprit. Glutathione can help your liver remove sleep-interfering toxins. Sleeping better will, in turn, help you detox even more toxins. [10]
  • Brain fog. After your liver, your brain contains the highest glutathione concentration. Studies show glutathione defends against reactive oxygen species (ROS), reducing oxidative stress that contributes to everything from brain fog to neurological disorders [11].
  •  Muscle growth. Glutathione is a workout supplement, too. High glutathione levels improve your muscle development, strength, endurance, and recovery time [12].
  • Chronic illness. If you’re sick or have an autoimmunity issue, glutathione can regulate your immune system and help you thrive [13]. Take it alongside vitamin C for extra recovery.
  • Aging. Glutathione production declines with age, which can contribute to age-related problems like cognitive decline. Research shows people 100 years or older have higher levels of the enzyme glutathione reductase [14].

 

What are the Best Ways to Get Glutathione?

Some foods like green veggies contain a little glutathione, sulfur-containing foods like cruciferous veggies and garlic can help build it, and consistent exercise can boost it, but to get therapeutic amounts of this rock star antioxidant you’ll want to supplement.

You can go one of two routes (or both, if you’re feeling frisky). Option one is to give your body the raw materials to build more glutathione.

  • Whey protein, which contains all the key amino acids to build glutathione, is a great way to increase your body’s production [15]. One study found 10 grams twice daily of whey isolate increased glutathione levels [16]. Choose cold-processed, cross-flow-microfiltered, grass-fed whey, and never heat your whey before eating it. Doing so destroys precious nutrients and enzymes.
  • Eating protein-rich foods along with certain nutrients can provide glutathione building blocks. Several B vitamins like vitamins B6 and B12 are methylating nutrients to produce glutathione, vitamins C and E recycle glutathione, and selenium is a cofactor for the enzyme glutathione peroxidase (GPx) [17].
  • You can take the three specific glutathione precursors: alpha-lipoic acid, L-glutamine, and N-acetyl-L-cysteine [18].

You can also boost your glutathione directly. Many people say supplemental glutathione doesn’t make it through your digestive tract, but studies in both humans and rodents show it efficiently absorbs via a specific uptake system across the intestinal epithelium [19,20,21]. One six-month randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial with oral glutathione used either 250 or 1,000 mg/day and found both doses increased glutathione body stores [22].

Bulletproof Glutathione Force is a step above many other glutathione supplements. The liposomal delivery system means you can get results without taking much. Take 500-1,000 mg of oral glutathione on an empty stomach at bedtime or as needed throughout the day, and add more if you’re sick or going out drinking. Both increase oxidative stress, and glutathione will curb the damage. It’s great for hangovers, too.

You can buy glutathione here, and these are good sources for its precursors:

Do you have experience with glutathione? Talk about it in the comments! Thanks for reading and have a great week.

  1. http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/12192730
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8734304
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3170044/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10880854
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12818476
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11115795
  7. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/134/3/489.full
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9414432
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12217624
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2596047/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10880854
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4328900/
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3162377/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2267679/
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3905294/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15463873
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21462082
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14555815
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1550859
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2221062
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1913980
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24791752

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