Glutathione is the body’s most powerful antioxidant. It protects cells by finding and neutralizing potentially damaging substances, such as by-products left behind by various cellular functions. These by-products consist of free radicals and peroxides. It also cleans up any heavy metals and regulates the body’s nitric oxide cycle, which is vital to homeostasis.
In addition to being a powerful antioxidant, glutathione also inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. which can reduce inflammation overall.
It may also assist in improving sleep quality for those with sleep apnea. People who suffer from sleep apnea generally have high oxidative stress levels, which is a contributing factor in their sleep problems. Glutathione may improve obstructive breathing by lowering the load of oxidative stress and improving cellular health.
The typical dosage of oral glutathione is 500 mg per day, but therapeutic doses can go as high as 1,000 mg.
Glutathione Mode of Action
Glutathione (GSH) is a tripeptide consists of glutamate, cysteine, and glycine. Glutamate is a non-essential amino acid, which the body can produce in whatever quantity it needs. Cysteine, a semi-essential amino acid, is only made in adequate quantity under normal conditions. Whenever the body is dealing with stress, disease or advancing age, it needs cysteine supplements to function well. The third amino acid is glycine, which is also non-essential and doesn’t require supplements.
GSH improves cellular oxidative stress by cleaning up the substances that cause that stress, free radicals. Free radicals are molecules within the body’s cells that have an unbalanced charge. As with all things in nature, balance is the goal of these molecules. They will correct their imbalance by stealing charge from the chemicals that are working to keep the cell healthy. This satisfies the free radical’s need for balance but creates an imbalance in the cell.
It is this cellular imbalance that leads to cellular damage. This exchange of charge is a redox reaction because it reduces one of the molecules while oxidizing the other. The process of stopping the free radical from causing damage oxidizes glutathione. In this state, it is no longer able to clean up other free radicals.
Processes are in place within the cell that return GSH to a reduced state, so it is ready to work again. Because oxidized GSH molecules can’t work to clean up the cell, when there are more of them than of reduced molecules, the cell is in oxidative stress. Supplements increase the ratio of reduced to oxidized GSH.
This is a dietary supplement that occurs naturally within the body. As with any endogenous chemicals, what is beneficial at therapeutic levels could, potentially, have adverse effects in extreme excess. Yet, even though glutathione has been used therapeutically for decades, no toxicity reports have been recorded.