Why Glutathione is the most popular supplement for Athletes
Why is glutathione the most popular supplement for athletes?
There is an increased interest in natural antioxidants these days. A high dietary intake of supplemental antioxidants may exert an anti-aging effect and may help prevent various chronic ailments.
Antioxidants play a particular role in boosting stress responses in the body. Higher physical activity or mental stress means faster depletion of antioxidants in the body.
Glutathione (GSH) as the body’s internal antioxidant
The body has its own way of countering free radicals. It does so through the production of glutathione. Glutathione is a potent antioxidant produced by the liver and other body tissues. Glutathione is made up of three amino acids: glutamate (Glu), cysteine (Cys), and glycine (Gly) (1).
It appears that prolonged physical training may cause faster depletion of glutathione. It is especially true for those engaged in endurance sports. Furthermore, its more rapid depletion may affect sports performance, slow down recovery. Thus, glutathione is one of the most commonly used supplements in sports.
Does glutathione help boost sports performance?
A high level of physical activity means increased production of reactive oxygen species, which ultimately causes muscle fatigue. This means that one way to boost physical performance could be increasing the body’s stores of glutathione.
In recent years, many clinical trials have confirmed that glutathione may help people train better. It reduces exhaustion, helps people train for longer hours, and promotes faster recovery.
Thus, in one of the clinical studies, eight men did moderate or high-intensity aerobic exercise (cycling). The study found that increasing glutathione levels with the help of supplements reduced fatigue and those who took glutathione experienced less fatigue. In addition, higher levels of skeletal muscle glutathione can considerably boost the ability to train for longer (2).
Studies in animal models suggest that adequate levels of GSH may boost endurance by as much as 50% in some cases. Moreover, high GSH levels also reduce lipid peroxides, thus improving vascular health (3).
Ways to boost glutathione levels in the body
There are multiple ways to boost the body’s levels of glutathione. One of the most common approaches is increasing the intake of amino acids used to produce glutathione. Therefore, N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) and α- lipoic acid (ALA) may help. Similarly, whey protein and L-glutamine intake may also help boost GSH levels.
One of the reasons for using glutathione precursors like NAC and ALA has been that some early studies could not understand the bioavailability of using intact glutathione. Thus, some early researchers thought that oral intake of glutathione would not have many benefits.
However, things have changed considerably in recent years. New studies confirm that taking intact glutathione may also help boost GSH levels. In addition, further studies confirm that oral GSH is absorbed. Rather than taking its precursors, direct oral intake of GSH may be better for reducing stress and fatigue (1).
There is no doubt that sports performance can be considerably boosted with the help of supplements. Antioxidants may be particularly useful in increasing endurance, lowering fatigue levels, and helping with faster recovery.
One of the best ways to boost endurance is to increase the levels of GSH in the body. The traditional approach to increasing this natural antioxidant has been by consuming amino acids needed to produce GSH.
However, it is worth understanding that in recent years, things have changed. New studies show that consuming GSH directly may also help boost its levels in the body. Thus, GSH supplements may be a better way of increasing the body’s levels of antioxidants and endurance.
Finally, some supplements are using unique technologies to boost the bioavailability of GSH. For example, Ancient Bliss’s Glutathione uses liposomal technology to increase its bioavailability.