If there’s one supplement that’s taken the wellness world by storm over the last handful of years, we owe it to glutathione. We know you’re probably thinking, gluta-what?

If you’ve never heard about glutathione, you’re in for a treat. It’s one of the most prominent and powerful antioxidants in the body that works hard to keep your cells healthy and safe.

But because factors like age, poor nutrition, stress, physical activity, and environmental pollutants can all contribute to reduced glutathione levels, supporting it in any way possible is perhaps one of the best things you can do for your body.

Whether you’ve heard about glutathione or not, we’re talking about everything you need to know—what it is, what it has to offer, if it’s worth investing in, and where you can find it.

Let’s get started.

What Is Glutathione?

Technically speaking, glutathione is a tripeptide composed of three amino acids—glycine, glutamine, and cysteine 1. Unlike cysteine, glutathione is not toxic, making it an effective option for a cellular thiol “redox buffer”, i.e. an antioxidant.

Once synthesized in the liver, glutathione can cross biological membranes, specifically the plasma membrane of cells, and enter the bloodstream to supply other tissues 1.

It’s found in surprisingly high concentrations in most cells, and interestingly in roughly the same concentrations as glucose, potassium, and cholesterol 2. If nothing else, that should give you some indication of how important it is.

But the thing with glutathione is that while the body naturally produces it, there is significant variability in an individual’s ability to synthesize glutathione that is dependent on genetic variability in the enzymes involved in producing and regenerating it 3.

And then, there are factors that increase the need for glutathione like excessive oxidative stress, poor nutritional status, or increased toxic load that will deplete GSH levels if not sufficiently supported and/or replenished 4.

All of that eludes to the importance of glutathione for maintaining health, so let’s dive into the key benefits and uses of glutathione.

The Benefits And Uses Of Glutathione

1. Antioxidant Support

The level of oxidative stress in the body is a huge factor determining health status. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between the generation of free radicals (reactive oxygen species, ROS) and the body’s ability to neutralize them and fight them off; this largely depends on antioxidant status.

The overproduction of free radicals can cause oxidative damage to lipids, proteins, and DNA, which, over time, can lead to the development of chronic diseases, including 5:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Stroke
  • Aging

But where glutathione comes in is as a powerful antioxidant. It is an endogenous compound responsible for scavenging ROS and their precursors, inhibiting the formation of ROS, and binding metal ions required for catalyzing ROS generation 5.

Neuronal cells are particularly susceptible to ROS damage and, therefore, neuronal damage, which makes maintaining sufficient levels of brain GSH key to boosting levels of brain glutathione and protecting cognitive function.

Glutathione is also required to regenerate other essential antioxidants, specifically vitamins C and E 6.

2. Immune Function

There are many compounds that contribute to proper immune function, and glutathione is no exception. There has been increasing attention placed on the pathophysiology of several inflammatory and immune-related diseases, many of which underline the link between oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.

But the interesting thing is that one of the common denominators in many of these diseases is a weakened defense system leading to inflammation and immunosuppression.

Studies consistently find that glutathione exhibits powerful and diverse effects on the immune system, either by stimulating or inhibiting the immune response to regulate levels of inflammation 7.

Not only does glutathione protect the immune system by reducing levels of oxidative stress and inflammation, but it also helps to fortify the immune system in two key ways 8, 9:

  • Plays a critical role in supporting T lymphocyte (white blood cell) function — Activated T cells produce free radicals, which trigger the glutathione (GSH) response required to buffer the increasing levels of ROS and prevent cellular damage
  • Stimulates production and activity of natural killer (NK) cells — NK cells play a critical role in the innate immune defense system and are reliant upon adequate levels of GSH; sufficient levels support cytolytic activity, activate receptor expression, induce apoptosis, and enhance cytokine synthesis

In the immune system, the protective activity of GSH is two-fold—it enhances the activity of immune cells and also functions as an antioxidant within them.

3. Gut Barrier Integrity

Gut barrier integrity is imperative to overall good health, and for most people, the health of the gut isn’t where it’s supposed to be.

Things like poor diet, stress, alcohol, poor sleep, and other lifestyle factors all contribute to intestinal permeability and the myriad of health issues that result from leaky gut and dysbiosis. But if there’s one supplement that can lend a hand in restoring barrier integrity, it’s glutathione.

Several studies suggest that glutathione plays an important role in gut barrier function and preventing inflammation-related oxidative damage to cells of the GI tract.

They show that GSH supplementation may prove to protect the epithelium of the GI tract and also may serve as a source of cysteine for intracellular GSH synthesis in the gut and other tissues 10.

Other studies confirm that the glutathione antioxidant system plays an important role in gut barrier protection by attenuating the death of cells lining the GI tract 11.

4. Glucose And Insulin Regulation

Blood sugar dysregulation and insulin resistance can be massive problems both short- and long-term. As a very simple way of looking at it, when your body is constantly being bombarded with glucose and insulin as a result of poor diet and lifestyle factors, your body eventually becomes desensitized to insulin, which starts you down the path to insulin resistance.

And while from the outside it may seem like it’s not the worst thing to happen, it can set the stage for some pretty nasty health issues, including type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, NAFLD, PCOS, and more 12.

But what’s interesting is that studies actually find people with insulin resistance have low levels of glutathione, and low levels are associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes 13, 14.

Based on this, we can presume that boosting your levels and keeping them high can help to improve glucose and insulin regulation, thereby decreasing the risk of metabolic dysfunction.

Does It Actually Work?

The tricky thing about glutathione is that inherently, yes, it does work—but that largely depends on what form you’re taking. The most obvious way to boost glutathione levels is to administer it directly, which can be done orally, topically, intravenously, intranasally, or in nebulized (inhaled mist) form 2.

Research finds that IV, inhalation, and intranasal ingestion are the best methods for increasing systemic levels. In contrast, oral administration is a bit controversial 15, but oral and transdermal liposomal glutathione may be better alternatives 16.

In any case, if you want to maximize the effect of glutathione, taking glutathione with vitamin C may be more beneficial. Glutathione and vitamin C work as a pair to regenerate each other and reduce oxidative stress, thereby reducing the need for glutathione.

Some studies show that 500-1,000mg of vitamin C with glutathione can increase glutathione levels in white blood cells and red blood cells by 18% and 47%, respectively 17, 18.

With that said, the form of glutathione you’re taking will dictate how well it works. And in PL-Immune™, you’re getting Setria® Glutathione—the only glutathione clinically shown to both raise glutathione levels in the bloodstream and support your immune system.

Setria® Glutathione is also premium-quality, made with patented fermentation that yields a purified, non-GMO, vegetarian, and allergen-free finished product for the best gut protection you can get.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to the role of glutathione in your body, there’s really nothing that compares. As one of the most powerful antioxidants around, its main job is neutralizing and eliminating oxidant species, but it’s also important for supporting immune function, protecting your gut barrier, and regulating insulin and glucose functions.

Whether you’re loading up on GSH-rich food sources or supplementing with PL-Immune (or better yet, both), getting your levels up should be a top priority.


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