Glutathione, a Valuable Ally Against Oxidative Stress

Article by SoLongevity Research
It is one of the most powerful natural antioxidants in our bodies. It plays a central role in tissue production and repair and defends us against numerous diseases. And it plays an important role in physiological processes related to aging.

What this article is about

  • Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant produced by the liver and found in certain foods
  • It plays an important role in biological processes related to aging
  • A deficiency of it is related to oxidative stress and the development of a number of diseases
  • According to preclinical studies, the use of glutathione precursor supplements is effective in restoring optimal levels, which decline with advancing age

What is glutathione?

Glutathione is a molecule which is produced naturally by the liver and is one of the most powerful antioxidants in our body, that is, it is one of those substances that counteract the formation of free radicals, which cause damage to molecules and cells. It consists of 3 amino acids (the building blocks that make up proteins): glutamate, cysteine and glycine. Synthesized mainly in the liver, glutathione is then released and transported to other organs, where it performs critical functions to keep us healthy. It is also found in various foods, especially in certain vegetables, fruitsparticularly asparagus, spinach, avocados, peaches, and apples-and in meat.

asparagi

Glutathione is a molecule naturally produced by the liver and is one of the most powerful antioxidants in our body. It is also found in some foods, such as asparagus

Glutathione is closely related to the physiological processes of aging

All roles of glutathione

In addition to its antioxidant effect, glutathione protects us from internal and external attacks. In fact, it is the main mediator of the so-called “detoxification” reactions, by which toxins are eliminated, both those produced by our body and those from outside, such as from drugs and food additives. In addition, glutathione takes part in the regulation of certain cellular processes, including tissue production and repair. In particular, it is involved in gene expression, protein synthesis, cell growth and death, and signal transmission. But it also regulates the immune response, for example in the production of cytokines–molecules involved in the inflammatory reaction also associated with Covid-19–and in a mechanism called protein glutathionylation.

Glutathione is the main mediator of “detoxification” reactions, by which toxins, both those produced by our body and those from outside, are eliminated

A lack of glutathione, on the other hand, is associated with oxidative stress, a set of alterations that are among the main enemies of the health of cells and tissues, since they play a central role in their aging and in some cases can lead to real diseases. Indeed, they can contribute to the development of liver disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, diabetes, stroke, and heart attack. Oxidative stress also plays a role in sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, and seizures.

Glutathione precursor supplements can potentially keep the “redox state” in balance, that is, improve the balance between substances that promote oxidation and others that counteract it

From deficiency to supplementation

In short, having the right amount of glutathione is essential for being healthy. Yet levels of this substance decline as we age, and according to some research, restoring it through appropriate supplementation with supplements could help improve health, and thus age better. However, there is a small problem with being able to achieve this through supplementation: synthetic forms are poorly bioavailable, that is, the body cannot take advantage of them in its processes, and thus the benefits of external supply are negated. A problem that has been overcome by the new generation of supplements through the “precursor strategy.”

Glutathione precursors-particularly glutamine, cysteine, and glycine-are useful for keeping the “redox state” in balance

For some time now, various studies have suggested that the administration of precursors, that is, molecules from which glutathione is produced, could be an effective strategy. The main precursors of glutathione are glutamine, cysteine, and glycine, and there are supplements with these (and other) precursors. In addition, precursors appear to be able to keep the “redox state” in balance, that is, to improve the balance between substances that promote oxidation and others that counteract it, which is essential against oxidative stress. The data, to date, provide early indications of the potential of controlled intake, through supplementation, of these compounds.

Along with resveratrol, polydatin, and NAD+, glutathione is one of the so-called “longevity molecules” that SoLongevity research focuses on. On this site you can find an in-depth study dedicated to each molecule.

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