Glutathione --- The Mother of All
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March 31, 2017
By Susan Callahan, Contributing Columnist

Glutathione is probably the most important antioxidant you've never
heard of.  Unlike its better known antioxidant cousins Vitamin C and
Vitamin E, glutathione has not yet caught the attention of the health

But for many years, the scientific community has published a legion of
studies touting its benefits. At last count, there have been more than
70,000 scientific studies on glutathione.  Why has glutathione been so
widely studied by universities from around the world? What is so
important about glutathione ?

There is some disagreement on who exactly "discovered" glutathione.
Some sources give the credit to J. de-Rey-Pailhaide who identified
glutathione in 1888 while examining eyeballs. Other sources, notably
the Journal of Biological Chemistry, give the credit to British scientist
Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins, who identified glutatathione's
properties but incorrectly described its chemical structure in the 1920's.

Glutathione has always existed in the human body. Our bodies
manufacture glutathione daily.  Glutathion is a tripeptide composed of
three amino acids, glutamate, cysteine and glycine.  Glutathione exists
in every cell of your body.

Glutathione's structure includes a sulfhydryl  which
reacts with toxins in your cells, reducing them and leading them,
eventually, to be expelled from your body as waste.

Oxidative stress is caused by a number of factors ---poor diets which
are too high in saturated fat and sugars, leading sedentary lives and
experiencing chronic stress.  

Our bodies are designed to clear out the free radicals released in
connection with oxidative stress. However, many scoentists believe that
the cumulative assault of stress, bad diets, lack of exercise and toxins in
our environment simply overwhelm our bodies natural defense
systems.  This is why, the theory goes, we need to actively boost, find
someway to further support, our immune systems and toxic waste
clearing systems.

Glutathione is a key player in that waste disposal and immune process.

If You're Sick, Are You Low on Glutathione?

Doctors have discovered that many people who are sick  have low
glutathione levels. Hospitalized patients, especially hospitalized elderly
patients have the lowest glutathione levels.

Low glutathione levels have been found in patients with cardiovascular

People with cerebral infarctions have glutathione levels that are 20%
lower than healthy people, according to a 2004 study from Kyushu
University in Japan.

The study looked at the glutathione levels of 134 people with various
types of cardiovascular disease versus 435 healthy people. The average
levels of glutathione in people with cerebral infarctions was 2.98 versus
3.59 micromol/L.

Also, low glutathione levels have been found in people with brain

But, when it comes to breast cancer, scientists have found both high
and low  glutathione levels, according to a 1997 study from University
of Virginia Health Sciences Center.

The problem is, very few studies have established what is the "normal
level of glutathione".  One study which did so was conducted in 1997
by Dr. J.P. Ritchie, Jr. of the Division of Nutrional Carcinogenesis,
American Health Foundation, Valhalla, NY.

The study looked at 715 people to test their glutathione levels. The
scientists found a wide range of glutathione levels. In fact, thehighest
levels were 3 times larger than the lowest levels.

The average level found was 1.02 mmol/L and CV of 17%.

Interestingly, glutathione concentrations actually were 8-10% higher in
smokers compared with nonsmokers.  Women had about the same
levels as men, but the ration of glutathione to hemoglocin were 8-18%
greater in younger women (under 55 years old) than in women older
than 55.

How Can You to Raise Your Glutathione Levels?

Among health enthusiasts, glutathione is becoming a big business. You
can now easily find glutathione supplements in health food stores and

Exercise actually raises your glutathione levels.

But one of the best ways to raise your glutathione levels is simply to
increase the amount of Vitamin C you take on board.

Can it be that simple? Apparently the answer is "yes".

In 1993, Dr. and others at the Arizona State University examined how
adding Vitamin C ( l-ascorbate) to the diet affected the levels of
glutathione in the blood. For one week, participants added 500 mg per
day of Vitamin C to their diets. For the next two weeks, they added  per
day 2000 mg, and for the final week they took a placebo.

After week one, in which they added 500 mg of Vitamin C to their daily
diet, participants saw the blood levels of glutathione rise by 50%.

Surprisingly, adding more than 500 mg of Vitamin C per day did not
boost glutathione any higher.  The 500 mg level per day is the optimal

What does this mean? Well, this study is a clear rejection of all of the
advice you may find elsewhere on the web touting the health benefits
of taking mega-doses of Vitamin C. More Vitamin C above 500 mg per
day does not equal greater heath, at least in terms of glutathione levels.

On the other hand, we should bear in mind that, it could be that
additional Vitamin C will trigger health benefits having nothing to do
with glutathione.

New research in March 2017 from the University of Iowa has suggested
this week that mega-doses of Vitamin C 800 to 1000 times the daily
recommended amount boost the effectiveness of chemotherapy in
fighting brain and lung cancer tumors.  The Vitamin C was given
intravenously.  Vitamin C taken by mouth appears not to be as effective
as that given intravenously.

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Consuming Vitamin C is one of the best
ways to boost glutathione levels.