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Glutathione: The Underground Antioxidant

by Sean Croxton

It is called the master antioxidant.

Master detoxifier, too.

It protects every single one of your 50 to 75 trillion cells, including your brain.

The lower your levels of it, the higher your risk of cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and autoimmunity.

And as of today, a Pubmed search displays 95663 scientific articles on it.

BUT I bet you’ve never heard of it.

Why? Well, maybe because you can’t fortify juices, cereals, and Diet 7-Up with it.

Or maybe because today’s multi-billion dollar antioxidant industry will crumble to its knees once the public catches wind of it.

When it comes to antioxidants, glutathione is as underground as it gets.

Before we jump into exactly what glutathione does, let’s discus why it does it. You have probably heard the phrase “the powerhouse of the cell”. Every time I hear that I flash back to elementary school and the entire class shouting “THE MITOCHONDRIA!”.

The mitochondria’s nickname couldn’t be any more appropriate. Housed within each of your cells, they generate the energy your body runs on by way of utilizing oxygen to convert food into fuel, or what is known as ATP.

Just like your car produces exhaust as a byproduct of the burning of gasoline, the mitochondria’s energy production system creates reactive oxygen species, better known as free radicals.

The mitochondria have a built-in protection system (antioxidant enzymes) to protect themselves from these free radical scavengers. However, 5% escape and wreak havoc on the cell, including damage to the DNA (potentially cancerous), enzymes, and cellular membrane. No bueno!

To get an idea of how these free radicals work, let’s use an analogy I actually heard last night from my friend Blue Elam. If you were to put 10 rambunctious boys into a room with 9 basketballs, what would happen?

First of all, you’d be a cruel, mean person for doing that. But the boy without a ball would steal a ball from another. And then the boy who doesn’t have a ball anymore will steal one from the next boy. And it never stops!

This is exactly what free radicals do. They steal electrons from vital areas of your cells in order to fill their outer shells. This process, called oxidative stress, has been associated with over 200 different diseases and conditions. In fact, a Pubmed search for oxidative stress displays 87374 scientific papers! In some cases, the free radicals cause the disease. In others, the disease causes the oxidative stress.

This is exactly why we have become so enamored with dietary antioxidants in the forms of expensive juices, supplements, and of course, fortification of processed foods.

As we discussed in Tuesday’s blog, dietary antioxidants, while effective, are in fact inferior to the antioxidant enzymes produced by your cells. These enzymes include superoxide dismutase, catalase, and the pound-for-pound antioxidant champ glutathione.

Glutathione is a protein consisting of three amino acids (a tripeptide). Its job is to act as a cellular security guard and protect the cell and mitochondria from free radical damage. When glutathione levels become depleted due to aging, stress, heavy metals, pollution, radiation, poor diet, and more, free radicals run wild. One consequence is the dimming of the lights in your cellular powerhouse. In other words, your energy production slows down. Is it any wonder why we have an epidemic of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome!

Glutathione works in conjunction with dietary antioxidants. It breathes new life into the water-soluble vitamin C, which then interacts with the fat-soluble vitamin E and CoQ10 (also vital for energy production), helping to keep antioxidant levels of those intact. (Perricone, 35)

If you’re taking a handful of vitamin supplements every day, you’ll be well served to boost your glutathione levels to keep them hanging around for longer.

In a nutshell, glutathione is what I call the bomb!

But don’t take my word for it.

In his book Forever Young, anti-aging expert Dr. Nicholas Perricone states,

“Elevating glutathione levels and other substances that protect against free-radical damage in the mitochondria is the cornerstone of the quest to look and feel Forever Young.”

Renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Russell Blaylock, in his book Health and Nutrition Secrets, writes,

“Several studies have shown that the lower a person’s glutathione levels are, the greater the risk of cancer. We also know that one of the early events associated with Parkinson’s disease is a fall in glutathione levels in the neurons associated with the disease.”

Check out the video below and see what happens when a man with Parkinson’s receives an injection of glutathione. The physician is Dr. David Perlmutter, the world’s leading nutritionally oriented neurologist, who as a matter of fact was slated to be my “secret guest” on a recent radio show. However, he had a conflict. I was heartbroken. Would have been so cool to interview him!

Speaking of neurology, there is a little-known connection between the health of the brain and the appearance of the skin. Dr. Perricone calls it the Brain-Skin Connection. According to embryology, during the first four months of gestation there are three distinct and separate layers of tissue from which all of our organ systems are derived. The brain and the skin come from the same layer, the ectoderm. (Perricone, 9)

So when that YouTube viewer was complementing me on my skin (mentioned in Tuesday’s blog), he or she was actually complementing the health of my brain!

My response: It’s the glutathione, baby!!!

Special shout-out to coconut oil, too! :)

The benefits of the master antioxidant are seemingly endless and go well beyond fighting free radicals.

Your liver contains the highest levels of glutathione, which is why it is known in scientific circles as your chief detoxifier, as it is a primary component in what is called Phase Two detoxification and protects you from liver damage. You can imagine it as a sticky substance catching all of the toxins floating by and carrying them out of the body through your poop.

Speaking of the liver, it is the site of thyroid hormone activation. Glutathione is a critical enzyme involved in the conversion of the inactive thyroid hormone T4 into the active T3. Increasing your levels may prove highly effective in improving thyroid function, boosting metabolism, increasing body temperature, and aiding in fat loss.

And for the active fitness enthusiasts and athletes like myself, glutathione will give you the edge you’re looking for as it reduces muscle damage, increases strength and endurance, and DEFINITELY reduces recovery time.

Recovery time is what sold me on my now favorite supplement. (It’s a glutathione booster, but the company won’t let me say the name on my website. Network marketing…). I work out HARD and I don’t get sore. If I crush my legs, I may have a bit of tightness in my hamstrings (if you watch my videos, you know how tight my hammies are!), but nowhere near the mood-dampening soreness I had prior to taking it.

I predict that intravenous glutathione as well as nutritionally oriented means of boosting its levels will be a huge advance in sports performance in the very near future.

Wow! I’m 3 pages deep and haven’t answered the most important question. How do YOU maximize your glutathione levels to reduce oxidative stress, recover quicker, reduce your toxic load, and boost immunity (will cover in an upcoming blog)?

As I mentioned earlier, manufacturers will never fortify foods with glutathione. This is because glutathione is quickly digested and rendered useless by the digestive system.

There are some forms of liquid glutathione on the market that have debatable effectiveness in boosting levels. You can try it, but you’ll probably vomit once you catch a whiff of it. It smells like one of my brother’s farts! Maybe worse. This is due to its high sulfur content. Yuck.

You can also find transdermal creams, which combine fatty acids with glutathione to facilitate absorption through the skin. Upon penetrating the deep layers of the dermis, the enzyme make its way into circulation, and eventually reports to the cells and mitochondria for duty.

Consuming foods with a high sulfur content can boost glutathione levels. These foods include eggs, garlic, onions, unpasteurized high-quality whey, and cruciferous vegetables like watercress and broccoli. The foods we discussed in Tuesday’s Top 3 Foods that Turn the Good Genes ON blog are also important due to the fact that hitting the switch on NRF2 sends the signal to your genes to produce glutathione.

Keep hitting those switches!!

Lastly, glutathione is composed of three amino acids: l-cysteine, l-glutamine, and l-glycine. Supplementation with n-actylcysteine (NAC), a derivative of l-cysteine, provides one of the building blocks for the enzyme. Several reports I have read indicate a significant boost in glutathione levels when NAC is taken in combination with alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), another potent antioxidant that deserves its own blog.

And of course, there is my favorite supplement in the world that I put my precious reputation on the line for almost a year ago. This supplement boosts glutathione levels by an average of 300%. But don’t take my word for it, read the study.

With improved exercise recovery, faster growing hair and nails, radiant skin, and improved energy, I know for a fact that my glutathione tank is topped off, protecting me from disease, toxins, and neurodegeneration.

Gotta stay tip-top if I’m gonna keep hitting those switches and changing how the world views health!

You should do the same.

Please help make this underground antioxidant go mainstream by sharing this blog with others.

See you tomorrow. It’s Friday Fun Day! I filmed an awesome workout with Kirk at Hale Holistic. And I make a BIG announcement about an upcoming video series that’s going to start a movement!

Next Monday, we’ll chat about how low glutathione levels contribute to autoimmunity.

And of course, tune in to UW Radio TONIGHT with bone health expert Dr. John Neustadt. I promise he’ll show up!!

How do I get all of this stuff done?!

It’s the glutathione, baby! :)





33 thoughts on “Glutathione: The Underground Antioxidant

  1. Ken O'Neill

    NAC, n-acetyl choline, works far better that supplemental glutathione, converting to the latter. It’s far less expensive, too – always best to work with Mother Nature.

  2. Thomas Easley

    That Protandim study was total crap. They used ethanol the extract the ingredients in protandim. Then they exposed the ethanol extract to cultured cells and measured the results. That shows nothing about the actions in the human body. Do a human study and then I might buy Protandim.

  3. UW Sean Post author

    There is a human study. It shows a 40-70% reduction in oxidative stress. Click the Protandim link above and read it.

    Read all seven while you’re at it. Anyone who actually read those studies comes away with an appreciate for what we have here. It’s just hard getting people to spend the time doing that.

    I did.


  4. UW Sean Post author

    I’ll have to spend some time looking at that one. I try not to give my opinion on any products without thoroughly reviewing them.

    Art looks great! He’s doing something right. He writes about glutathione in his book. Big fan of it.

  5. UW Sean Post author

    N-acetyl choline or N-acetyl cysteine?

    I agree that supplemental glutathione is inferior. It is destroyed during digestion. I mentioned that above.


  6. Rainer

    Would be great to get you to review it, Art is the only one in the scene who raves about it and your right he does look great!

  7. Chris.S

    Awesome blog Sean! The Glutathione word, although still relatively ‘Underground’ is gaining rapid attention in the health world, and is only likely to explode (especially with guys like you on the job!) as time goes on. Amazing vid there too!

    Thomas: theres multiple factors showing Protandims effectiveness. Dr McCord, the creator of Protandim, is also the discoverer of Super Oxide Dismutase, one of the bodies most important antioxidants. He discovered by measuring TBars (an oxidative stress marker) in the blood, oxidative stress was drastically reduced in all HUMAN participants taking Protandim.

    Check it out, awesome:

  8. Muay thai mike

    Hi Sean,
    I’m intrigued by protandim…. However I am a bit skeptical. High dose exogenous antioxidants (like vitamin C) limit the effectiveness of exercise but compounds like polyphenols seem to give your body a boost in endogenous antioxidants, enzymes etc. I was wondering if you think protandim works the same way via hormesis and is mildly stressful in a good way, which makes the body boost its immune function? Like those cherry juices that promote recovery?


  9. WCB

    Having been blessed with Crohn’s disease over 5yrs ago now, I have run the gamut of pharmaceutical drugs from corticosteroids to IV ones like Remicade that cost $10,000 every 4-8wks. NONE of them improved my quality of life and I ended up with a bowel re-section a little over 2yrs ago. Determined to never go back under the knife or waste more time with drugs that didn’t work, I’ve regained my health with the help of Sean and I’ve been given my life back with the help of Protandim. It is an absolute GAME-CHANGER! The day I meet Sean in person, shake his hand, and thank him for his amazing work will be absolutely priceless!

  10. Rebecca Rovay-Hazelton

    Great blog, Sean! I especially like your analogy of boys stealing each other’s basketballs and free radicals. So important for readers to grasp the vastness that free radical damage can cause.

  11. UW Sean Post author

    Nope. I consume foods that activate NRF2 like turmeric and cinnamon, but Protandim is my only glutathione-boosting supplement.

  12. UW Sean Post author

    Skepticism is good. I was the biggest skeptic. You can imagine how many supplements I get pitched on.

    As described in my previous blogs, nutrients that are Michael acceptor pharmacophore actually induce mild oxidative stress. This wakes up NRF2, which tells the genes to crank up antioxidant enzyme production.

    I don’t know much about hermesis. But it sounds like the same mechanism.

    Protandim is 100% legit. There are 27-plus studies being done around the world with Protandim on different disease processes. Look up my blog “Protandim Proof” for real before and after test results.

  13. Thomas Easley

    The study you linked to in the above article was not a human study. I will read the human study, but for future reference you should provide a link to a decent study. Because the link you provided to such a poorly designed study makes me question the credibility of the rest of your information.

  14. Christian Rosenvold

    Awesome post Sean!
    I have two questions:

    1) How does age affect the levels of glutathione? My main motives for taking protandim and boosting my levels of glutathione would be to improve my recovery time but then again I’m 17 and have a healthy and fit body, so would it actually make any improvements?

    2) You just reminded me with your shout out to coconut oil; when you apply coconut oil to your skin do you wash it off after a set period of time or just leave it on?

    Thanks again Sean, I’m really enjoying all these posts that you’re pumping out :)

  15. Craig

    what do you think of MaxGXL? They claim a 292% Glutahione increase in a 60 day double blind placebo controlled clinicle study?

  16. UW Sean Post author

    Hi Christian!

    Everyone’s glutathione levels decrease due to again. Around the age of 20 is when the reduction begins. Many factors play a role here, including nutritional status, UV radiation, stress, and toxicity. I wouldn’t worry so much about your glutathione levels at age 17 unless you are exercising intensely.

    For the coconut oil I wash it off after about 20 minutes.

    Thanks for reading!!

  17. UW Sean Post author

    I took a long hard look at Max GXL. The problem is that they have no science on their finished product. Can’t find anything on Pubmed. I like to go with products that are backed by peer-reviewed research. That way I don’t have to argue with anyone over whether they work or not. Protandim is also much cheaper than Max.

  18. Iain Leslie

    How many of the ingredients in Protandim help produce higher levels of Glutathione?

  19. Evilcyber

    One thing, Sean: What toxins exactly are being get rid of here? If they are present, then there surely is a way to objectively measure it.

  20. Tamie M

    Should you take Protandim if you are taking Dr. Perricone’s vitamin regime? Would taking the two together be overdosing, or would they compliment each other?

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