Glutathione is the one of the most powerful antioxidants naturally present in our cells.1 Known as a “master antioxidant," glutathione is essential for cellular protection from oxidative stress and damage, maintaining mitochondrial health and healthy immune function, especially after middle age.2
Our growing understanding of the importance of glutathione and the significant role it plays in cellular processes has the potential to transform our understanding of the mechanisms of aging.
As the most abundant antioxidant in our cells, glutathione is highly associated with health and longevity. An abundance of glutathione keeps oxidative stress tightly controlled by creating a strong natural defense against accelerated cellular aging and Age Associated Cellular Decline (AACD).3,4
Glutathione must be made inside our cells. This unique tripeptide molecule is made up of three amino acids — cysteine, glycine, and glutamic acid.2 Each of these amino acids is required for the continuous and adequate production of glutathione for cellular protection.
Unfortunately, glutathione levels decline after middle age and the precursor amino acids cysteine and glycine become deficient in cells. Although the exact reason for deficiencies in these amino acids is unclear, it may be linked to altered protein metabolism as we age.2 Because of the decline in glutathione levels, an imbalance is created between antioxidants and free radicals inside the cells, which can cause oxidative stress to build up and become damaging to cells and organs.1
Lower levels of glutathione are associated with declines in mitochondrial function, cellular protection, detoxification, and immune function, as well as an increase in inflammation. This decline in healthy cellular function can lead to accelerated cellular aging, a decline in organ function, and the onset or progression of chronic health conditions. These conditions include diabetes, heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases.3,5
The creation of energy (ATP) in our cells requires oxygen and involves a series of chemical reactions within our mitochondria — the “powerhouses” of the cell. These chemical reactions create oxidants and toxic byproducts, which induce oxidative stress. Over time, oxidative stress can cause damage to mitochondria, cells, tissues and eventually organs if left out of balance.
An effective way to control free radicals from the inside out and detoxify cells from accumulated waste is with glutathione. As glutathione actively neutralizes destructive free radicals, it helps safeguard each cell in your body, protecting against damage and accelerated cellular aging.4
When the building blocks of glutathione are in adequate supply, the cell makes just as much glutathione as it needs to support healthy cellular function. The ability of glutathione to recycle antioxidants is part of what makes it so important. Most antioxidants are no longer useful to us once they’ve neutralized free radicals. Glutathione not only recycles itself, it has the ability to recycle other antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E as well.1
However, as we age and oxidative stress increases, it often becomes too much for the available glutathione to effectively control. When this happens, we experience a gradual decline in cellular protection, deterioration in our body’s natural defense system, and damage associated with accelerated cellular aging.
As our knowledge of glutathione and its impressive protective nature has expanded, we understand, now more than ever, glutathione’s profound role in promoting healthy aging. Correcting glutathione deficiency is a promising solution to regaining glutathione levels, restoring natural defenses, and supporting healthy cellular aging.4