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The Superhero Antioxidant: Understanding glutathione and why you need it

Updated: Mar 26

One of the most powerful antioxidants our bodies produce is glutathione and it plays a crucial role in keeping us healthy. It is a nutrient I use in my naturopathic medical practice to help optimize health and slow the aging process down.

In this article I will talk about:

What is glutathione?

Glutathione is a molecule made up of three amino acids: cysteine, glycine, and glutamate. It is abundant in the liver and our cells can manufacture this molecule rather than exclusively rely on getting it through foods. Glutathione does it all! It fights oxidative stress and free radicals, boosts the immune system, detoxifies chemicals and pollutants we are exposed to every day, and helps the body make proteins, hormones, and DNA.

Why do we need glutathione?

Glutathione is the superhero the body needs to maintain normal health and functions.

Here are the top benefits of glutathione:

  • Powerful antioxidant: glutathione neutralizes harmful free radicals that can damage cells and DNA. Cellular damage is a primary contributor to cancers and other chronic diseases.

  • Immunity: glutathione enhances the body’s defenses because it helps stimulate and modulate the body’s immune response.

  • Detoxification: glutathione binds to toxins, including environmental pollutants, and helps flush them out of the body.

  • Respiratory health: glutathione is necessary for the lungs to stay healthy because it protects against oxidative damage and inflammation.

  • Liver health: the liver depends on glutathione for optimal detoxification and to help maintain healthy liver enzymes.

  • Mental health: glutathione is known to help with focus, cognition, and mood because it helps make neurotransmitters and protects the brain from oxidative stress

  • Skin health and healthy aging: glutathione neutralizes free radicals from environmental pollutants and sun exposure. This allows our skin to keep its integrity and maintain its youthful appearance.

  • Improve exercise recovery: boosting glutathione levels has been shown to help muscles recover sooner after an intense workout.

What depletes glutathione levels?

The more exposure you have to glutathione-depleting factors, the faster your reserves will drain. If glutathione levels are severely deficient, it will leave you susceptible to health problems and accelerate signs of aging (grey hair, fine lines, and wrinkles).

Certain lifestyle factors can drain our reserves faster than usual:

  • Poor diet

  • Exposure to toxins (includes, but is not limited to cigarette smoking, excess alcohol intake, and processed food)

  • Lack of sleep

  • Chronic stress

  • Medications

Increasing glutathione levels

The most effective way to increase glutathione is to provide the body with the building blocks necessary to make glutathione naturally and to supplement it with quality glutathione.

Ways to keep your glutathione at the levels for optimal health:

  • Proper nutrition: a nutrient-dense and low-sugar diet is essential to maintaining proper glutathione levels

  • Exercise: moderate exercise can boost glutathione levels. Consider aerobic and weight training as well as yoga and deep breathing.

  • Sleep: sleeping for at least 7 hours is important to maintain the natural production of glutathione and prevent depletion from sleep deprivation.

  • Detoxification: Eliminating toxins, reducing stress, and avoiding alcohol and smoking can help preserve glutathione levels.

  • Glutathione supplements: Oral supplementation gives the body the necessary amino acids for glutathione synthesis. Consider liposomal glutathione for better absorption.

  • IV glutathione therapy: Getting glutathione intravenously allows for immediate and maximum absorption. Several treatments may be necessary to achieve optimal glutathione levels. Should not be done during pregnancy.

  • Nebulized glutathione: Inhaling glutathione allows for direct delivery to the lungs and sinuses. This treatment is great to help alleviate congestion.

Why choose IV glutathione?

IV glutathione therapy is growing more and more popular and with good reason! Research confirms the glutathione-boosting effects of taking it intravenously. By growing through the veins, you will have maximum absorption and substantially raise blood plasma levels.

Some benefits of IV glutathione:

  • Increased blood glutathione levels: IV therapy achieves much higher concentrations than taking oral glutathione supplements.

  • Improved absorption: Bypassing the digestive system and liver avoids glutathione breakdown.

  • Ideal for acute need: This is a quick and easy way to increase glutathione levels when faced with illness, infections, or chemical exposures.

Why choose glutathione nebulizer treatments?

Woman in orange shirt with nebulizer mask

Inhaling glutathione via a nebulizer delivers it directly to the lungs, sinuses, and bloodstream. For respiratory conditions, nebulizing glutathione enhances outcomes and improves symptoms better than relying only on oral supplementation. Consider nebulizing glutathione for the following respiratory conditions: respiratory viral and bacterial infections, asthma, COPD, and damage from smoke inhalation.

Why choose glutathione supplements?

Opting for glutathione supplements can be beneficial for so many reasons. First, they support the body's natural defense system against oxidative stress, aiding in the prevention of chronic diseases and other acute illnesses.

There are different forms of glutathione supplements you need to consider when determining which supplement is right for you:

Liquid glutathione is convenient for quick absorption, while capsules offer a simple and precise dosage. Liposomal glutathione is an advanced option and one I recommend to most of my patients. The liposomal form encapsulates glutathione for improved absorption.

Each form has its merits, so it's essential to consider personal preferences and individual needs when incorporating glutathione supplements into your wellness routine. Always consult with a healthcare professional, like myself, to determine the most suitable choice based on your health goals and unique requirements.


What are the next steps?

The next step is getting your levels tested to see if you could benefit from boosting your levels through supplementation, IV therapy, or nebulizer treatments. Glutathione supplementation can be a useful tool, but it is only just one piece to optimal health.

Woman in orange shirt with long hair over her left shoulder

Let's work together!

As a dedicated Naturopathic Doctor, I invite you to schedule a personalized 1-on-1 appointment with me. Click here for more information on how to book your appointment.

My goal is to empower you to make your lifestyle your medicine, so I encourage you to take the first step by scheduling an appointment with me. However, if you are not in the space to make an appointment with me, I encourage you to explore my health articles and e-books. Also, be sure to sign up for my newsletter to get my naturopathic tips straight to your inbox.

*Dr. Francesca works only with patients physically located in California.*

*Disclaimer: Although I am a doctor, I may not be your doctor. The information contained within the pages of this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used to treat conditions. Please consult with your doctor before implementing any of the treatments, diets, supplements, etc. mentioned in this blog.*

*Dr. Francesca is an affiliate for Amazon, Nutrafol, and other companies. Some links contained within the blog posts may be affiliate links from which she receives a small commission to help support her practice at no extra cost to the customer.*


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