Glutathione, most commonly called glutathione or GSH, is the most powerful naturally occurring antioxidant in all human cells, and is often referred to as the body’s “master antioxidant”.
Composed of glutamic acid, cysteine and glycine, this tripeptide helps to detoxify the body and neutralize free radicals while supporting the immune system. It is known for its role in providing antioxidant protection for the body’s tissues, including the arteries, brain, heart, liver, lungs, and skin. Glutathione levels decrease as the body ages.
All cells in the human body are capable of synthesizing glutathione. But the highest concentration of glutathione is found in the liver, making it critically important in the detoxification and elimination of free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive compounds created in the body during normal metabolic functions; they can also enter the body through the environment. Accumulation of these compounds can result in oxidative stress, which occurs when the generation of free radicals in the body exceeds the body’s ability to neutralize and eliminate them.
Metabolically, glutathione has many functions. As previously mentioned, glutathione plays a substantial role in the functioning of the body’s immune system. Its antioxidant property makes it vital to white blood cells (lymphocytes)-as it allows them to reach their full potential during the oxygen-requiring activity of the body’s immune response.
White blood cells in their immune response aid in detoxification of the body-and as glutathione levels decrease, so does the body’s ability to eliminate toxins. This leads to the death of white blood cells-thereby weakening the body’s immune system.
Other antioxidants in the body depend on glutathione as well. Glutathione recycles vitamins C and E after they have been oxidized-therefore playing a decisive role in their normal function.
ENVIRONMENTAL OXIDATIVE STRESSORS THAT CAN DEPLETE GLUTATHIONE INCLUDE:
- Ultraviolet and other radiation
- Heavy metals
- Cigarette smoke
- Exhaust from motor vehicles
- Household chemicals
- Dietary Factors
- Other environmental toxins