Glutathione is your body’s master antioxidant and it’s found in almost every cell in your body!
It’s a must-have for autoimmunity, detoxification, anti-aging, and even cancer prevention. But many people haven’t heard of it or aren’t familiar with all of the amazing ways it supports your health.
Let’s take a closer look at why it’s so important, signs your levels are low, and strategies to increase your glutathione naturally.
Why is Glutathione So Important for Your Health?
Glutathione’s number one job is to bind up toxins and free radicals to prevent them from damaging your cells, tissues, and DNA. Without enough of it, your body suffers from oxidative stress, which leads to disease and premature aging.
It’s incredibly helpful for anyone dealing with toxic exposure from mold, mycotoxins, heavy metals, and even everyday toxins like those found in plastics and body products.
It’s important for anyone with autoimmunity because it helps keep your toxic burden low, minimizing inflammation and tissue damage.
Glutathione also supports liver function, heart health, optimal stress response, immune health, brain function, healthy insulin levels, kidney function, and so much more. It’s honestly one of the most important molecules in your whole body.
If you’re dealing with any type of chronic disease, there’s a good chance that your glutathione levels are too low.
What Depletes Your Glutathione Levels
Your body produces and recycles glutathione on its own, theoretically keeping you in constant supply. However, aging and other common factors can reduce your glutathione levels, including:
- Environmental toxins – mold, heavy metals, pollution, radiation, EMFs
- Chronic stress – physical, mental, or emotional
- Infections – chronic infections increase oxidative stress
- Poor diet – high in inflammation and low in vitamins needed to produce glutathione
- Medications – acid blockers, pain medications, antibiotics, antidepressants, and antiviral medications
- Genetic mutations – mutations at the GSTM1 gene are linked with an increased glutathione need
- Poor sleep and lack of exercise – depletes levels and increases inflammation
Signs Your Glutathione Levels May Low
Here are top signs your glutathione levels are depleted:
- Brain fog
- Joint pain or muscle aches
- Poor immune function
- Low-quality sleep
- Chronic disease
5 Natural Strategies to Improve Your Glutathione Levels
If you suspect you’re running low on this magnificent molecule, here are some steps you can take to boost your levels.
1. Take an Acetylated Liposomal Glutathione Supplement
The easiest and most effective way to increase glutathione is to take it directly in supplement form. However, a lot of products out there are frankly a waste of money because of how poorly they are absorbed, so you want to be careful.
IV glutathione is the absolute best option, which is why we will soon be offering it the clinic. But that’s not always available or the most convenient for everyone.
Oral glutathione supplements are much more common but they also vary a lot more in quality. Inexpensive, drug-store options break down way before your body can absorb and use them, making them useless.
Instead, look for an acetylated liposomal glutathione formula in order to get a therapeutic effect. This means the glutathione is suspended in tiny fat-like particles so that it survives the digestive process and can be readily utilized.
The liposomal formula I carry in my clinic and online store contains two different types of glutathione and a glutathione precursor to support absorption at every level throughout your body, from intracellular to systemic.
Acetylated liposomal formulas are more expensive, but when it comes to glutathione you really do get what you pay for!
You can also support glutathione levels by increasing the factors that promote glutathione production and activity. Here are a few ways to do that.
2. Eat Sulfur-Rich Foods
Sulfur is required to synthesize glutathione, so eating more of it can help your body produce more glutathione naturally.
The sulfur in our diets primarily comes from beef, fish, and poultry, but another good source is cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale. Allium vegetables, including garlic, shallots, and onions, are also high in sulfur and help boost glutathione levels.
3. Boost Your Vitamin C
Researchers have found that vitamin C may help improve glutathione levels by attacking free radicals first, keeping more glutathione in reserve. They also found that it helped recycle glutathione by converting oxidized glutathione back to its active form.
Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, bell peppers, kiwi, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, papaya, and strawberries.
4. Increase Selenium
Selenium is a glutathione cofactor, meaning it’s a necessary ingredient for glutathione to do its job.
Great sources of selenium are beef, chicken, fish, organ meats, and Brazil nuts (if you aren’t avoiding nuts on an AIP protocol). You can also take a high-quality multivitamin that contains selenium.
5. Get Plenty of Sleep and Exercise
Poor sleep is a double whammy for this all-important antioxidant because it both decreases your glutathione levels and increases oxidative stress. Aim to get 8 to 9 hours of restorative sleep every night by going to bed at the same time, minimizing screen use 1 to 2 hours before bedtime, and getting sun exposure in the first 30 minutes after you wake up.
Regular exercise can also boost antioxidant levels, including glutathione. Research shows that incorporating both cardio and strength training increases glutathione more than relying on only one or the other.
Just be aware that intense physical training without proper nutrition can actually deplete glutathione levels. If you’re training for a marathon, iron man, or other endurance sport, you’ll want to pair this with the nutritional tips mentioned above.
Glutathione is honestly something that everyone should be concerned with because it’s so important for preventing and overcoming disease.
I highly recommend implementing these strategies and considering a glutathione supplement to make sure you’re getting plenty of this master antioxidant!
About the Author: Dr. Seth Osgood is a Doctor of Nursing Practice, Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM) Certified Practitioner. Dr. Osgood received his post-graduate training in Functional Medicine through the IFM and from working with Dr. Amy Myers. He has helped people from around the world improve their health utilizing a Functional Medicine approach.
Want to work with Dr. Osgood and the GrassRoots team? Become a patient in our West Lebanon, New Hampshire Functional Medicine clinic, our Burlington, Vermont Functional Medicine clinic, or our Austin, Texas Functional Medicine clinic!