Glutathione (GSH) is the key player in out body’s detox system. It is a cofactor of the enzyme glutathione-s-transferase (GST), whose function is to detoxify chemical toxins. As an antioxidant, it supports the immune system by boosting the production of white blood cells to fight off infection and foreign substances.
GSH is an antioxidant naturally made in our body from N-acetylcysteine (NAC). It is made up of three amino acids – cysteine, glycine and glutamic acid.
High levels of GSH are found in the liver, spleen, kidneys, pancreas and stomach lining, organs that are frequently exposed to toxins. Diseases, such as cancers, liver diseases, heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and HIV/AIDS are associated with lower levels of GSH. Stress, excessive exercises, poor diets and toxic overload increase the demand. Furthermore, our body’s level decreases with age.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Glutathione-S-transferase is a complex group of enzymes, which is responsible for defending the body against carcinogens (cancer-causing agents), anti-tumor drugs (drugs to treat cancer), environmental pollutants, and waste products of oxidative stress.
Toxic chemicals, such as those from our environment – pesticides, heavy metals (lead, mercury, and cadmium), preservatives, PCBs, and medications are first neutralized by the liver. These neutralized chemicals are then bound with GSH in the liver cell with the help of glutathione-s-transferase and are then excreted from the body safely in feces or urine.
It has been suggested that toxic metals, such as mercury and lead, inhibit the production of GSH in the body, sabotaging the body’s detoxification system. As a result, toxic chemicals and heavy metals accumulate, affecting brain functions, resulting in behaviors frequently seen in children with ADHD and other development disorder.
This maybe reversed and/or prevented by limiting your child’s exposure to toxic substances and heavy metals through eating any organic diet, drinking filtered water, limiting mercury-rich seafood, avoiding processed foods, avoid common chemical household cleans, pesticides, etc.
There are other detox supplements, such as alpha lipoic acid, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), carnosine, trimethylglycine (TMG), selenium, or vitamin C that works synergistically with GSH to help eliminate unwanted accumulation of toxic chemicals. Alpha lipoic acid boosts glutathione level by recycling. NAC is the precursor of glutathione.
You can get GSH from both plant and animal sources. Fresh fruit and vegetables, cooked meat and fish have about 25 – 750 mg per pound. Processed foods, dairy products, most nuts, grains and legumes are not very good sources.
However, with the over- farming and genetic engineering, who knows what is in our foods nowadays. Foods are deprived of nutrients from nutrient-depleted soil because of over-farming. Farm animals do not eat their natural diet, and force to eat food their bodies are not used to.
Besides, our body is drenched in an environment full of toxic chemicals, from the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. Our body is overwhelmed with excessive amount of toxic exposure. Thus, I believe we all need additional vitamins/minerals to help support of overwhelmed detoxification system and immunity, just so we can again function well mentally.
Purified glutathione supplement itself is poorly absorbed since it is easily denatured by the stomach’s acidic environment. Your best alternative is N-acetyl-cycsteine (NAC), which is converted to glutathione in the body. Taking L-cysteine, glycine and methionine will provide the body with the ingredients to make more glutathione.
Studies show that dosage of up to 40mg/kg NAC in children is safe. NAC increases excretion of zinc and other essential minerals. When taking NAC over a long period of time, it is wise to supplement diet with zinc, copper and trace minerals. High doses of NAC may cause headaches and dizziness.
Silymarin, the active substance in milk thistle, may increase GSH levels in the liver up to 50%.
There are also transdermal and intravenous GSH available. However, these options will require special prescription through physicians who are familiar with their use.
L-Cysteine supplement should not be given to children. NAC is a safer alternative.
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