What is Glutathione and How Do I Get More of It?

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GLUTATHIONE (pronounced “gloota-thigh-own”) is the most important molecule you need to stay healthy and prevent aging, cancer, heart disease, dementia and more, and necessary to treat everything from autism to Alzheimer’s disease. I called it the mother of all antioxidants.

The good news is that your body produces its own glutathione. The bad news is that toxins from poor diet, pollution, toxins, medications, stress, trauma, aging, infections and radiation all deplete your glutathione.

This leaves you susceptible to unrestrained cell disintegration from oxidative stress, free radicals, infections and cancer. And your liver gets overloaded and damaged, making it unable to do its job of detoxification.

How does it work? The secret of glutathione is the sulfur (SH) chemical groups it contains. Sulfur is a sticky, smelly molecule. It acts like fly paper and all the bad things in the body stick onto it, including free radicals and toxins like mercury and other heavy metals. Normally glutathione is recycled in the body — except when the toxic load becomes too great. And that explains why we are in such trouble.

But as I said, there is also good news. You can do many things to increase this natural and critical molecule in your body and here are four ways to start today:

4 Tips to Boost your Glutathione Levels

  1. Consume sulfur-rich foods. The main ones in the diet are garlic, onions and the cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage, cauliflower, watercress, etc).
  2. Try bioactive whey protein. This is great source of cysteine and the amino acid building blocks for glutathione synthesis. As you know, I am not a big fan of dairy. But this is an exception — with a few warnings. The whey protein MUST be bioactive and made from non-denatured proteins (“denaturing” refers to the breakdown of the normal protein structure). Choose non-pasteurized and non-industrially produced milk that contains no pesticides, hormones, or antibiotics. Immunocal is a prescription bioactive non-denatured whey protein that is even listed in the Physician’s Desk Reference.
  3. Exercise boosts your glutathione levels and thereby helps boost your immune system, improve detoxification and enhance your body’s own antioxidant defenses. Start slow and build up to 30 minutes a day of vigorous aerobic exercise like walking or jogging, or play various sports. Strength training for 20 minutes 3 times a week is also helpful.
  4. Take Glutathione Supporting Supplements. One would think it would be easy just to take glutathione as a pill, but the body digests protein — so you wouldn’t get the benefits if you did it this way. However, the production and recycling of glutathione in the body requires many different nutrients and you CAN take these. Here are the main supplements that need to be taken consistently to boost glutathione. Besides taking a multivitamin and fish oil, supporting my glutathione levels with these supplements is the most important thing I do every day for my personal health.

Read more about glutathione in the full article here: Essential Glutathione: The Mother of All Anti-Oxidants.

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below – but remember, we can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD

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28 Responses to What is Glutathione and How Do I Get More of It?

  1. Steem May 8, 2012 at 12:41 am #

    Glutathione supplement was thought to be a whitening and dieting agent. In some countries in Asia, It is now being controlled by these countries’ health officials, because of ‘uncontrolled’ use for skin whitening especially by the rich and celebrities. But I myself use it as IV here in the US because of my blood disorder (not so sure if medical specialists really don’t categorized this disease as cancer even if there is no cure). It helps me a lot to maintain my blood chemistry. It can’t make my skin fairer or whiter (I am Asian too) though but I could see a remarkable glow in my complexion. I can tell it helps my liver a lot and my kidney knowing that the medication I take daily is as strong as ‘chemo in capsule’ form.
    Even Suzanne Sommers’ alternative medicine in her books, has glutathione shot being taken once a week.
    The hematologists I always visit in my country don’t oppose the idea of me taking glutathione IV’s even if they don’t recommend it. Other doctors, like one general practitioner advise me to take glutathione once the antibiotics I would be taking is finished so as to detoxify myself.
    I take glutathione after a thorough research of what ever side effects or harm it can cause but luckily, I didn’t find any except that it can make the skin whiter.. I like that.. (check it out at webmd.com for some info)
    I am prone to blood clots but thank God, I can manage this disease properly. But we need to bear in mind that different people have different state of health and mind..

    • Thaddeus July 11, 2014 at 7:00 am #

      Since I got my Glutathione levels up 300% I no longer have heavy metal poisoning. I found a very simple & easy way to do it and it works

  2. G.L. October 3, 2012 at 12:17 am #

    Wondering what else beside boosting my glutathione levels (which I am working on), you can recommend for underarm Hidradenitis suppurativa. I’ve had 2 outbreaks in past 2 months so think I’m in Stage 1. When I changed my diet to mostly vegan (due to obesity – 200+ lbs and suspected RA – age 52/female) it subsided greatly. I did much research and have diagnosed myself at this point. Do you think yeast overload has anything to do with it?

    • Avatar of Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff
      Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff October 3, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

      Hi G.L,
      Thank you for your interest in Dr Hyman’s work. In order to ebst serve your needs we would suggest you work with Dr Hyman’s nutrition team. For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com/nutrition-coaching/ OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  3. Michael October 3, 2012 at 1:13 am #

    I’m incredibly sensitive to most high slufur foods…pretty much all the ones you list including cabbages and all that group, onions and allicillins etc, I do eat a small amount of water cress from time to time.

    How much of these foods is it suggested one should consume as a minimum (given my poor health a minimum is a bare min of course and needs significantly increasing).

    • Avatar of Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff
      Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff October 3, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

      Hi Michael,

      Thank you for your interest in Dr Hyman’s work. For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com/nutrition-coaching/ OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  4. Andrea October 3, 2012 at 1:24 am #

    glutathione was the key to my son’s recovery. since his premature birth my son has always struggled to metabolize and detoxify the never-ending bombardent of toxins in his environment and sadly from vaccinations. a year ago a great doctor recommended some testing which revealed several discrepancies in my son’s metabolic profile, including a deficiency in glutathione. Despite already having him on a daily regimen of supplements that included probiotics, cod liver oil, green smoothies, regular attempts at detoxification using zeolites, and completely organic whole foods we still weren’t seeing much improvement in his autistic-like behavior. I researched the deficiencies and decided to add a whole whey protein from pasture raised cows to up his glutathione and hence his bodies ability to detox itself. For the first 3 weeks or so, every time i gave him a smoothie made with the whey he suffered from intense hot flashes, and despite 60 degree weather, would feel the need to take off his shirt for the next hour or so. This scared me at first, but I put some thought into why this was happening and surmised that it was a sign that his metabolism was finally kicking in. A few days after starting the glutathione (whey), my son began holding my gaze for longer and longer periods, and he began holding more cohesive conversations (while looking me in the eye!). It’s been almost 4 months now, and he’s practically a different child. The stimming behavior is nearly completely gone. His lucidity brings tears to my eyes, he’s a normal 6 yr old now! He doesn’t have any hot flashes anymore, he’s incredibly healthy, he sleeps MUCH better, he looks me in the eye when he talks to me, and he doesn’t walk in circles anymore, or hum and flap his hands while bouncing back and forth across the room. Glutathione saved my son from long term neurological damage due to the inability to metabolize heavy metals and toxins, I can’t even express how happy I am that I discovered it.

    • JC October 8, 2012 at 1:19 am #

      Andrea, Can you be more specific in what kind/ brand glutathione you are giving your son? Great to hear he is so much better!

    • Jade November 5, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

      Hi Andrea – What an incredible story! I knew undenatured whey protein had the potentional to work wonders
      but never heard such an inspirational story about it. I work at a company that produces a product
      called Vitality Whey – we talk constantly about the incredible things increasing gluatatione levels
      can do and one of the biggest things right now is increasing awareness. I’m so happy you found it
      and hope others start to learn about it too. Thank you for sharing your story. Here’s a link to our site
      which also has some great information on glutathione and the science behind taking whey protein. http://www.vitalitywhey.com

  5. MrsM October 3, 2012 at 8:25 am #

    Yes I have read it is the master anti-oxidant! Can everyone produce it, or are there any conditions which mean the person can’t produce it themselves? Thanks for all your great info!

    • Avatar of Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff
      Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff October 3, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

      Hi MrsM.

      Thank you for your interest in Dr Hyman’s work. There are many conditions which can deplete your glutathione from autoimmune conditions to mercury toxicity. For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com/nutrition-coaching/ OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

    • Amira Rajput April 3, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

      Glutathione is poorly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and foods rich in glutathione do not appear to contribute to increases in intracellular glutathione levels. Cysteine appears to be the limiting amino acid in the intracellular synthesis of glutathione and supplementation with up to 2000 mg daily of N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine appear safe. Supplementation with cysteine is not recommended as it may be poorly tolerated by many patients. (SpectraCell Labs)
      Glutathione is deficient in many diagnoses, incl celiac patients. Whey protein is a non-option b/c most celiac and gluten intolerant individuals (due to wheat being genetically modified) also are casein/dairy intolerant.
      I’m a Culinary Medicine Clinician- Nutritional Psychologist and Somatic Therapist with an out of this world salvation story having recovered from severe PTSD, Dual Diagnosis Eating Disorders and much, much more. I’m on a mission to deliver accurate knowledge for accurate holistic treatment.
      Excellent news about your son Andrea! I had a Traumatic Brain Injury, Multiple Autoimmune Disorders, etc etc and this antioxidant played a critical role in my recovery as well.
      God Bless
      Your Culinary Rehab Food Evangelist
      Amira Rajput, M.A.
      amirarajput.com

  6. Wendi October 3, 2012 at 9:19 am #

    Thank you again for more education… I have learned so much from you Dr. Hyman and am much healthier because of it. Thank you so much for teaching in a way that we can understand and apply to our lives and the lives of our loved ones.

  7. Claudia Garcia October 3, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I took MaxGXL for about a year and have never been healthier with a lot of energy, I stopped taking it and started getting a lot of colds and respiratory diseases again!

  8. Kyle Kralik October 4, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

    I have done some research on Glutathione because I had asthma. I found the only product proven to naturally fuel my immune system and eliminate my health challenge was a product called Immunocal. It meets all the requirements that Dr. Hyman mentions in his article on Glutathione. Immunocal has been proven safe to use long term for any age group and doesn’t conflict with any kind of medication. I am so grateful that I found the product since I have been asthma free now for 15 years.

    Kyle Kralik

  9. Patricia Miceli October 7, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    What about Colostrum? I understand that helps in the production of glutathione.

    • Avatar of Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff
      Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff October 17, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

      Hi Patricia,

      Whey powder can help towards this goal if you are not sensitive to dairy.

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com/nutrition-coaching/ OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  10. marie rogers October 18, 2012 at 9:08 am #

    what about being hypothyroid and not being able to use this supplement and why can’t I use this?

  11. movers April 28, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    You should be a part of a contest for one of
    the finest websites online. I most certainly will highly recommend this blog!

  12. Bev Blackmore June 20, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

    Hi
    I use Max International products. They are all certified by the B.S.C.G, N.S.F and Max One is approved by Health Canada. Max products are proven to raise your glutathione levels 276% in two months.
    Our products do not contain glutathione they help the body make its own glutathione. Our newest generation of a glutathione accelerator is Cellgevity powered by RiboCeine.
    These products are amazing.

  13. Jimmy November 15, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    I have been using the product called sunrq-3 which has spirulina, fucoidan, NAC, ALA, green tea, grape seed, vitamin c, and more. I’ve done some research on a few of these and they also help our body increase glutathione. After 7 months of taking this supplement I have not caught a cold or flu, I no longer wake up with stuffy nose (which i believe is from the smog), and I don’t feel sluggish after working long hours. So it really feels like my body is removing the toxins inside.

  14. Anita Lowery December 16, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    I use the Glutathione patch made by LifeWave 300% more effective than pills or lotions. Glutathione Patches help your own body make Glutathione.

    Lifewave: acupuncture without the needles.

  15. Mary June 17, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    Warning, Tylenol depletes the body of Glutathione!! Especially dangerous for children.

  16. Ed June 29, 2014 at 8:46 am #

    I use an oral spray that contains Glutathione. Its called CellEnergy. You can purchase at http://www.spraytoday.net.

  17. Mike Gunderson July 14, 2014 at 9:01 pm #

    Nature Rich has perfected a healthy liposome of phosphatidylcholine to contain vitamin c and glutathione so that you can take it orally and your stomach won’t break it down before it can get into your blood stream.

  18. Eva July 24, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

    Is it true that glutathione is broken down by stomach acid and rendered useless? someone trying to peddle their concoction to in increase glutathione has made , they say oral glutathione is useless. What do you say to their claims?

  19. Inez ramos July 24, 2014 at 9:05 pm #

    Thank you Dr, for your in depth information regarding glutathione, it s cool that your not focusing
    on shoving a sales pitch down our throat, which only makes me want to find out if indeed you are selling anything that may help our health which is the best gift from God anyone can have. i will carefully browse your website to see what else you offer thank you again.

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