The close relationship between depressed levels of this natural peptide and the progression of aging could hardly be more convincing.
As a potent antioxidant and detoxifier, with key roles in the immune system and reliable links to longevity, this may be the one, single factor we need more than any other.
It’s called glutathione.
Levels Fall in All Organs After Age 45
Glutathione is made from three amino acids – glycine, glutamic acid and cysteine. It is found in all cells.
Although the body is able to manufacture glutathione, its ability to do so drops sharply after the age of 45. Our glutathione counts fall in all organs including the brain, heart, lungs, liver and eyes.
This means it is less able to carry out essential functions which protect us from degenerative diseases and aging.
As the body’s main antioxidant, glutathione prevents a surfeit of the free radicals (oxidative stress) that have been linked to 80 degenerative diseases. Not only does glutathione pack its own antioxidant punch, but it also recycles other better known antioxidants like vitamin C and E so they can be used again and again.
In the immune system it’s needed for T and B lymphocytes to function fully, as well as activating T cells.
Glutathione is also at the cornerstone of the detoxification process. The most important organ for this purpose – the liver – both stores and sends it to other areas of the body as needed.
Extends The Life of Insects and Animals
Raising glutathione by 50 to 100% in mosquitoes extended their life by 30% to 38%.1 Elevated levels also increased the lifespan of hamsters and rats.
Scientists at Montreal General Hospital Research Institute demonstrated a remarkable 30% increase in the life of mice. The mice eating a special diet designed to boost their increased glutathione lived to what would correspond to 80 human years compared to mice fed a standard diet that lived the equivalent of 55 years.2
Exciting results in the lab can sometimes prove disappointing when tested in humans. But not when it comes to glutathione.
Better Health and Longer Life
Long-time glutathione researcher Calvin Lang from the University of Michigan measured the amount of glutathione in the blood of 33 people aged 60 to 79. Those with higher levels had fewer illnesses, reduced cholesterol, lower body mass index and blood pressure, and better physical health than those with lower levels.3
Dr. Lang followed this up with a five-year study of 87 healthy women aged 60 to 103. His conclusion was that “high blood glutathione concentrations and excellent physical and mental health are characteristics of long-lived women.”4
Researchers from Odense University, Denmark compared glutathione levels in 41 people aged 100 – 105 to those of 52 people aged between 60 and 79. Glutathione proved to be higher in the centenarians than in the younger group, with the highest amounts found in the most active among the group.7
A team from the University of Naples, Italy, carried out a similar study. Serum glutathione measurements were compared in three age groups of healthy people – under 50, 70 to 99, and 100-plus.
As expected, the youngest had greater concentrations than those in the next age group up. However, the centenarians had higher levels than those aged 70 to 99.
The researchers concluded that oxidative stress – free radical damage — was lower in the centenarians because of elevated antioxidants.5
Commenting on this study, cardiologist and author Thomas E Levy, M.D., wrote, “This evidence further suggests that the higher glutathione levels in the oldest group may actually explain their longevity.”6
How to Increase Your Levels
Glutathione can be obtained from food, with the best source being undenatured whey protein. Other good sources are cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage and kale. These foods do not actually contain glutathione, but contain its precursors — the amino acid building blocks the body needs to make glutathione itself.
Glutathione production can also be raised by taking supplements. The most reliable nutrient to achieve this is N-acetyl cysteine.
It’s generally considered ineffective to take the complete glutathione molecule because the digestive system breaks it down. That’s why nutritional experts advise taking the precursors.
However, two forms of glutathione supplement have been developed that are proven to increase body levels. One is called liposomal — tiny spheres made from phospholipids. The other is called Setria, manufactured through a proprietary fermentation process.
- GSH Master Defender by Thomas E Levy MD