9 Health Benefits of The Master Antioxidant Glutathione
Glutathione is an antioxidant with numerous potent effects inside the body. Unlike certain antioxidants, which we only get through food, glutathione is one we produce inside cells.
The antioxidant consists of three amino acids: cysteine, glycine, and glutamine.
Under normal circumstances, the human body creates some amount of the antioxidant, which offers numerous health benefits. But certain factors, such as low protein intake and stress, can lead to low glutathione levels.
The good news is, glutathione supplements can ensure an adequate supply of the antioxidant and improve our health on several fronts. With that in mind, let’s take a look at glutathione’s top nine benefits:
1. It Slows Down The Aging Process
Aging is a normal bodily process that we cannot stop. As time passes, joints wear down, skin loses elasticity, and we lose our youthful vigor. Still, none of this suggests that we cannot slow down aging.
As an antioxidant, glutathione plays a vital role in preventing oxidative stress, which we’ll discuss below (1). Thanks to that, glutathione protects our cells from damage, thus increasing their useful life and slowing down the aging process.
Aside from slowing down the aging process, glutathione reduces the risk of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and cancer, all of which are related to aging in some way (2).
2. It Improves Athletic Performance And Post-Training Recovery
There are countless compounds claimed to improve our athletic performance and recovery. It seems that every day, we get treated to a new and seemingly more effective supplement that will take our physical abilities to the next level. Sadly, such claims rarely converge with reality. In most cases, ingredients have no scientific backing or plausible mechanism of work.
While we certainly need more research to conclude, glutathione shows promise as an ergogenic compound. As an antioxidant, glutathione fights oxidative stress, which can reduce muscle fatigue, allowing athletes to train harder and longer before reaching exhaustion (3). Some rodent research also suggests that glutathione slows down muscle pH drop during physical activity, which can also explain the improved physical abilities (4).
Thanks to the same mechanisms, glutathione can also speed up recovery, leading to more effective training and quicker progress.
3. It Reduces Oxidative Stress In The Body
Each day, the human body carries out thousands of metabolic processes that create byproducts known as reactive oxygen species (ROS). These unstable particles play some crucial roles in our health. For example, ROS can send signals between cells (5). But ROS can also damage cells inside the body, leading to oxidative stress.
Significant amounts of oxidative stress speed up aging and increase the risk of various diseases down the road (6). To counteract ROS, we need antioxidants, such as glutathione. These compounds scavenge the excess oxygen species, allowing us to maintain good health (7).
4. It Reduces Inflammation And The Risk Of Chronic Disease
Acute inflammation is a normal and beneficial response from the body. For example, if you cut yourself, your body produces an inflammatory response, which swells up the tissue. The goal is to eradicate toxins and prevent invaders from entering the wound, leading to an infection.
We should avoid chronic inflammation because it can lead to a host of health issues down the road (8). Common symptoms of inflammation include fatigue, depression, gastrointestinal problems, and unexpected weight gain or loss.
According to research, as a major cellular antioxidant, glutathione plays a vital role in regulating the inflammatory response to reactive oxygen species (9).
5. It Reduces Muscle And Joint Discomfort
Claiming that an antioxidant helps with ailments related to muscles or joints might seem a bit far-fetched. But, if we look at how glutathione works inside the body, we begin to understand why the claim makes perfect sense.
As an antioxidant, glutathione prevents free radicals from damaging healthy cells inside the body (1). Meaning, taking a glutathione supplement can reduce the risk of structural damage and inflammation, leading to a lower risk of arthritis.
According to research, glutathione can also prevent the immune system from damaging healthy cells, reducing the risk of Rheumatoid arthritis (an auto-immune disease) (10).
6. It Promotes Youthful And Healthy Skin
Glutathione appears to be a key player in skin health. The antioxidant plays a vital role in skin rejuvenation by reducing oxidative damage to its cells. As a result, our skin remains elastic, youthful, and wrinkle-free.
Glutathione also has favorable effects on the liver, which is vital in our skin (11). According to research, liver issues can manifest on the skin, showing as spots (spider nevi) or turning the skin yellow (12).
7. It Improves Sleep Quality
Glutathione has an interesting relationship with sleep. According to research, adequate rest allows us to maintain optimal glutathione levels in the body. In contrast, sleep deprivation is linked to suppressed levels of the master antioxidant, which presents exciting insights about the importance of rest (13). Thanks to the mechanism alone, we can confidently say that sleep is essential for preventing excessive oxidative stress and inflammation.
Some experts also hypothesize that suppressed levels of the antioxidant lead to sleep issues, thus creating a cursed cycle. While we haven’t had research to confirm it, the idea makes sense because there is a relationship between sleep and glutathione.
In any case, given its benefits, taking glutathione is good for our health, and it might also improve our sleep quality.
8. It Promotes Cell Repair And Growth
Different cells in the body have varying lifespans. For example, liver cells live for up to 18 months, but white blood cells stick around for only 13 days. The issue is, external factors, such as oxidative stress, can shorten the lifespan of bodily cells, causing them to die prematurely. As a result, our health might take a hit, and we might be at a higher risk of disease (6).
The good news is that glutathione seems to promote cell repair and growth (14). First, cell repair allows the body to make full use of a cell’s life span. Second, cell growth means the body more effectively replaces worn-out cells with new ones.
9. It Boosts Mental Focus And Clarity
As the master antioxidant in the body, glutathione plays an important role in cognition, focus, and clarity. The mechanism by which glutathione achieves these effects is simple:
Glutathione reduces oxidative stress to cells, which means the antioxidant protects neurons in the brain (1). By protecting neurons, glutathione promotes optimal brain function and might even reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline. Some research even suggests that optimal glutathione levels can reduce the risk of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia through similar mechanisms (15)