IV Vitamin Deep Dive: Glutathione
August 30, 2021
Glutathione is considered the most important antioxidant synthesized in our bodies. Without glutathione oxidative damage accumulates in our cells accelerating the onset of disease and cell death. Thus, antioxidants are critical to maintaining health and proper cell function.
Oxygen Free Radicals, Oxidative Stress, and the role of Antioxidants
Free radicals (also called “oxygen free radicals”) are molecules which are very unstable and seek to react with other near-by molecules. Free radicals are formed naturally in the production of energy in the cell, but they are also introduced by numerous external sources such as chemical pollution, smoking, or even sunlight exposure. Free radicals “oxidize” other molecules that they come into contact with creating “oxidative stress” in the body. This oxidative stress leads to damage in the cell and its components, including DNA. Such damage can lead to cancer, cardiovascular disease, macular degeneration, cataracts, and a host of other disease conditions.
Antioxidants act to neutralize the damaging oxidative stress that free radicals bring about in the body. Fruits and vegetables contain naturally occurring antioxidants. Antioxidants can also be taken as supplements. Examples of antioxidant supplements are Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and beta-carotene.
Glutathione as the Master Antioxidant
Glutathione is a tri-peptide protein composed of three amino acids: glycine, cysteine, and glutamate. Glutathione has been referred to as the “master antioxidant” because it enhances the utilization and recycling of other antioxidants like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, CoQ10, and Alpha-Lipoic acid.
Glutathione is present in the cell and makes itself available to extinguish the effect of poisonous molecules called superoxides (oxygen free radicals). ATP is the main energy source for the cell which is synthesized in the mitochondria through a series of chemical reactions which utilize oxygen. These superoxides are the natural products of ATP production in the cell’s mitochondria, or cellular “powerplant”. Much like a car’s engine makes exhaust fumes, the process of ATP energy creation produces these superoxides as a waste product. Superoxides need to be cleaned up and neutralized before they react with surrounding molecules, “oxidizing” or damaging them.
Glutathione directly binds to these oxygen free radicals immediately neutralizing them thus preventing damage to DNA, other proteins, and lipids. The very mitochondria that produce oxygen free radicals as waste products can also be damaged by them. Mitochondria damaged by free radicals begin to slow down and make less ATP, which translates into less energy available for the cell to use. Furthermore, damaged mitochondria become like the damaged muffler of an old car, belching out even more dangerous free-radical waste products.
When Glutathione is Depleted
After glutathione does its heroic duty of extinguishing the “fire” of oxidation, it converts from the active form known as GSH to the oxidized glutathione form known as GSSG. GSSG is the inactive form of glutathione that was just used up putting out the fire of oxidation in the cell. In the GSSG form, glutathione can do nothing until the enzyme glutathione reductase converts it back to the active GSH form. When there are too many oxidative “fires” in the cell, it uses up the glutathione in the GSH form and floods the cell with the inactive GSSG form in quantities that overwhelm the glutathione reductase enzyme. Now the cell can be damaged by the shortfall of glutathione “firemen” to put out the oxidative “fires”.
Excessive oxidation triggers the immune system to come and attempt to clean up the damaged tissues which produces inflammation. Several autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and Lyme disease are characterized by low levels of glutathione, mitochondrial dysfunction, inflammation, and marked fatigue. Diminished glutathione levels have also been observed in several other diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, hepatitis, COPD, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease.
Glutathione and Immunity
Vitamin C has long been recognized as an important vitamin for boosting immunity, but the immune boosting effects of glutathione have largely been overlooked. Glutathione has been shown to stimulate several immune boosting effects in the body such as activating natural killer (NK) lymphocytes and T-cells, enhances secretion of infection fighting proteins IL-2, IL-12, and gamma interferon. This immune boosting function has been shown to enhance the immune system in its fight against viruses, bacteria, and parasites!
Glutathione and Skin
Your skin can really take a battering from sun, dryness, oxidative stress, and the effects of aging. Glutathione has been shown in several scientific studies to reduce the production of melanin pigmentation of the skin, reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and increase the skin’s elasticity.
How do I boost my levels?
There are even more benefits to replenishing glutathione that we could touch upon here. Glutathione supplementation is a wise choice for anyone out there who is concerned about their health. Glutathione, however, cannot be absorbed orally due to breakdown by the small intestine’s digestive enzymes. The most effective and reliable way of boosting your glutathione level is through IV supplementation.
MD Infusions utilizes glutathione in our vitamin cocktails. Our Immunity Boost, and Beauty IV vitamin infusions both contain 1g of glutathione. We can also provide glutathione IV as a solo infusion. Contact us or call (844)463-8734 to schedule your IV vitamin infusion.