Glutathione is considered an antioxidant, but actually it is a protein made from three amino acids. Glutathione is stored in the liver and called upon when free radical damage needs to be neutralized. Stress, aging, medications and environmental pollution can lower glutathione levels, making it a highly prescribed supplement.
Oral supplementation of glutathione doesn’t improve blood levels of the antioxidant. Glutathione is more than likely digested before reaching your blood stream as glutathione. Digestion of the supplements leads to the amino acids that make glutathione to be released, according to author James Holly, M.D. The human digestive tract has enzymes that break apart proteins into single amino acids for absorption. Glutathione is made up of cysteine, glutamine and glycine. When glutathione is taken as a supplement, your body breaks down the supplement into the respective amino acids. Glutathione obtained from food sources seems to raise blood levels and provide antioxidant protection according to James Holly, M.D. with the Southeast Texas Medical Associates. Holly states in his literature review that rats are able to absorb glutathione in supplemental form, but human studies haven’t shown blood levels to increase with high doses of glutathione.
Supplementing your diet with the precursors for glutathione may improve your blood levels. Author, Kathy Browning in “Autoimmunity: It’s Time for the Truth; It’s Time to Heal,” recommends ingesting certain foods and the precursor amino acids to boost your glutathione levels. Browning states consuming undenatured whey protein, avocados, Indian curry spice and taking vitamin B6 to increase your body’s levels of the antioxidant. Vitamin B6 helps your body to convert the precursors into glutathione and undernatured whey protein provides the amino acids that make the glutathione protein. Holly suggests taking 500 mg of vitamin C because the antioxidant vitamin helps your body make glutathione. Other nutrients that can increase glutathione levels include alpha lipoic acid, methionine, B12 and S-adenosyl methionine.
In an interview with glutathione expert, Dr. Perlmutter, glutathione must be taken tranvenously, otherwise, you are wasting your money taking oral supplements. Intramuscular injections offer little value in raising your blood levels of glutathione. Currently, intravenous glutathione is only available from physicians who specialize in this type of therapy.