Glutathione is more accurately described as an amino acid compound than a true amino acid. (Does that sound familiar? Carnitine is not a true amino acid, either.) Technically, glutathione is a tripeptide, a peptide formed when amino acids link together in a particular order. In this case, the amino acids linked together are glutamate, cysteine and glycine.
Glutathione naturally produced in your body performs a variety of jobs. Glutathione plays a role in biological processes as diverse as protein synthesis, trans-membrane transport, and cell maturation.
It neutralizes free radicals to help protect cell tissue from damage. Glutathione is also involved in the function of the liver and other organs.
Glutathione exists in two forms: an antioxidant version called glutathione (GSH), and an oxidized, sulfur-linked compound known as glutathione disulfide (or GSSG). Both forms exist within our cells; the ratio of one form to the other depends on how frequently glutathione is used in oxidative reactions.
- Glutathione is an important water-soluble antioxidant that plays a role in protecting muscles and other tissues from free radical oxidative stress.
- Glutathione is a peptide made up of three amino acids: glutamic acid, cysteine and glycine.
- At the cellular level, glutathione may help transport nutrients through cell membranes while supporting the integrity of red blood cells.
- Glutathione has antioxidant action inside our cells which helps counteract the harmful effects of free radicals. It protects the mitochondria (where cell energy is produced) and the cell membrane. It protects against DNA damage and is active in supporting the immune system.
- There is a direct correlation between aging and reduced concentrations of glutathione in cellular fluids. Antioxidants such as glutathione are the body's foremost allies against oxidative stress.
- GSH appears especially significant in supporting organs which are regularly exposed to oxidative stress, such as the lungs, intestines, kidneys, and liver.
Dietary glutathione is easy to find. Sources include:
Since the sulfur content of glutathione is high, foods rich in sulfur like broccoli, onions, and garlic are especially good additions to your diet. A healthy supply of vitamins especially C, E, selenium, B6 and B12 will also help elevate glutathione levels.
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