Increase your longevity with Glutathione

Increase your longevity with Glutathione

Recent statistics have good news for us. Centenarians are the fastest growing age group in America. What’s the secret to longevity and healthy life? And, what can you do right now to ensure you will one day take your place in the ranks of vibrant 100-year-olds?

A small but potent molecule made in every cell of your body called glutathione is the answer. While glutathione may not have the same notoriety as other more high profile nutrients such as vitamins C and E, it certainly is a miracle molecule.

A study tested the glutathione levels of two age groups. The groups consisted of 41 centenarians from 100–105 years old and people 60– 79 years old. They found that the mean glutathione activity was significantly higher in centenarians than in the group of younger elderly subjects. The centenarians with the best functional capacity tended to have the highest glutathione activity.1 The study concluded that increased longevity is associated with high glutathione levels.

A later study evaluated the glutathione levels of 87 women in excellent physical and mental health, ranging in age from 60-103. The scientists found that all women had very high blood glutathione levels. They followed these women for five years, and concluded: “high blood glutathione concentrations … are characteristic of long-lived women.”2  

This indicates the role glutathione plays in increasing longevity and maintaining good health.

The Master Antioxidant for longevity

Glutathione (GSH) is a tripeptide molecule that consists of glutamic acid, cysteine and glycine. It is one of the main nonprotein antioxidants that exists within each cell, and has been referred to as the body’s “master antioxidant.” It rules the body’s cells and is abundant in cytoplasm, nuclei and the mitochondria.

Glutathione was discovered in 1888. However, research on glutathione deficiency only began in the 1920s and 1930s. The study concentrated on the eye, particularly the lens. It is well known that macular degeneration is a result of low glutathione levels. By the 1980s, researchers realized that glutathione was a major player in all aspects of good health, life-longevity and disease prevention.

Without adequate glutathione levels, each cell would eventually disintegrate from massive free radical damage, your body would have little resistance to metabolic waste products, and your liver would be severely compromised from the eventual accumulation of toxins. Our cells would also be defenceless against the many bacteria, viruses and many of the carcinogens that pose a health threat.

For the past three decades, researchers have been investigating the role of antioxidants for the maintenance of good health, longevity as well as for the prevention and treatment of oxidative stress-induced diseases.

While the better-known antioxidants such as vitamin A, vitamin E and selenium must be obtained from the diet. All other antioxidants depend upon the presence of glutathione to function properly, making it the master antioxidant. For example, it is essential in regenerating oxidized forms of vitamins C and E by re-circulating them back into antioxidant function. Normally once these antioxidant vitamins scavenge free radicals, they can become oxidized themselves and attack the healthy cells, known as peroxidation. Glutathione easily restores them to their reduced form so they can resume the free radical scavenging activity again.

The effectiveness of glutathione

When the glutathione systems are functioning effectively, the use of antioxidants maximizes their effectiveness in the treatment and prevention of degenerative diseases associated with oxidative stress. This includes arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and macular degeneration.

Glutathione performs important jobs in the body which includes protecting cells against the destructive effects of free radicals; detoxifying external substances such as drugs, environmental pollutants and carcinogens; maintaining cell membrane stability; regulating protein and DNA biosynthesis and cell growth; enhancing immunologic function through its influence on lymphocytes; prostaglandin synthesis; and amino acid transport.

Glutathione impacts all levels of the body’s physiological functioning and prolongs your longevity.

Glutathione has the potential to treat and prevent hundreds of diseases. When you consider the role glutathione plays in the basic wellness of cells, the primary living building blocks in our body, you can appreciate why maintaining glutathione levels is critical for optimal well-being and longevity.

Essential Support for Immunity and Detoxification

In addition to its role as a powerful antioxidant, glutathione also serves as an immune system enhancer and a detoxifier.

As an immune system enhancer, glutathione is needed for the proper functioning, and in particular the creation and maintenance, of T cells lymphocytes, the body’s front-line defence against infection.

Glutathione plays a central role in the proper function of the white blood cells. Dr Gustavo Bounous, a leading Canadian glutathione expert, researcher and author, says, ‘The limiting factor in the proper activity of our lymphocytes (the white blood cells) is the availability of glutathione.3 The healthy growth and activity of the white blood cells depend upon high levels of intracellular glutathione.

In people with immune deficiency, glutathione levels fall well below the normal levels in blood and immune cells. Restoring glutathione levels to those found in healthy people has benefited immune deficient patients. Studies have suggested that an increase in the glutathione level in the body can help patients with HIV (AIDS) to improve their survival.4

In a toxic world, survival literally depends on the body’s ability to adequately detoxify the tens of thousands of chemicals that are inhaled, ingested, and absorbed into the body. Glutathione also comes to our rescue as a major detoxifier. The liver’s ability to detoxify is critically dependent on levels of glutathione. This means the higher the glutathione content, the greater the liver’s capacity to detoxify harmful chemicals. Glutathione is able to bind to organic toxins, as well as heavy metals, solvents and pesticides, and transform them into a form that can be excreted in urine or bile.

Glutathione’s Role in Cancer Prevention

Columbia University School of Public Health estimated that diet and environmental toxicity causes 95% of cancer.5 It is evident that in order to prevent cancer, it is imperative to protect the body from this onslaught of toxins.

Dr Dean Jones Ph.D., professor of biochemistry, Director of Nutritional Health Sciences at Emory University and a recognized expert on glutathione states, “The role of glutathione that has probably received the most attention in the past 50 years is the function of glutathione as an anti-carcinogen. Reactive chemicals that would otherwise cause mutations in the DNA and cause cancer are counteracted by glutathione. A little over 50 years ago, many chemicals we are exposed to are activated in the body to reactive chemicals were recognized. Reacting these with glutathione is the body’s most central way of getting rid of them. Glutathione is the most anticarcinogenic chemical we have in our body.”

Most people do not inherit “cancer genes” rather; they have a genetic weakness in their detoxification system. Glutathione is an extremely important part of the detoxification system, and thus of our defences against cancer.

The Miracle Molecule

Over 80,000 published studies have shown that glutathione has a profound effect on a multitude of health challenges. As a powerful free radical scavenger, immune enhancer and detoxifier, glutathione has shown to be effective in the following conditions; autism, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, asthma, diabetes, lung disease, Parkinson’s disease, gastrointestinal inflammation and Crohn’s disease, hepatitis, chronic fatigue syndrome, neuro-degenerative diseases such as MS (multiple sclerosis), ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and degenerative eye conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

Medical science is still ascertaining all the critical roles glutathione plays in disease resistance, general good health and increased longevity. Clinical evidence links low glutathione levels to the most common illnesses of our time as well as newly emerging diseases.

Staying healthy as well as recovering one’s health requires maintaining high levels of glutathione. The older we get the more our levels of glutathione decline, especially after the age of 45. Therefore, shoring up your glutathione reserves is crucial.

Who needs to increase glutathione levels?

Glutathione will be a real boost to your wellbeing if you;

  • were diagnosed with a chronic illness
  • are in pain
  • have autism
  • are under stress
  • have digestive problems
  • have a weakened immune system
  • eat lots of processed foods
  • engage in strenuous exercise
  • are overweight
  • feel fatigued

High levels of glutathione in your anti-ageing program keep you healthy and energetic.

Increasing Glutathione Levels

When it comes to understanding the importance of glutathione, John P. Richie, Jr., Ph.D., professor of Public Health Sciences and Pharmacology Cancer Institute at Penn State University School of Medicine is a world expert on the subject. He has been researching glutathione for over 25 years including its role in protecting against oxidative damage during ageing and the development of cancer at numerous sites.

His research confirms the following findings. Numerous studies have supported the use of oral glutathione even though increases in glutathione levels may not be apparent in all tissues. For example, orally administered glutathione is not generally accompanied by an increase in glutathione levels in the liver, which is the main storehouse and exporter of glutathione in the body. However, this lack of effect in the liver is not likely due to a lack of bioavailability. Research conducted by Dr Richie and others clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of oral glutathione at enhancing the glutathione content of other critical tissues and protecting against a variety of important disease processes.

The very best way to ensure adequate glutathione levels is to provide the body with the key building blocks of glutathione. One effective product is called Setria® Glutathione manufactured by Kyowa Hakko U.S.A., Inc. It is a tripeptide composed of the glutathione precursors, glutamic acid, cysteine and glycine. Setria Glutathione is an oral L-glutathione supplement manufactured using a proprietary fermentation process. Setria Glutathione is a key ingredient found in many glutathione-promoting products. Since glutathione levels are lowest in the mornings, it is best to use all glutathione supplements early in the day. There are several other ways of increasing glutathione levels. Moderate, prolonged physical exercise increases glutathione and its related enzyme levels in the blood and skeletal muscles. 6,7

Where to find glutathione

In addition, many vitamins and nutritional supplements are glutathione boosters. Lipoic acid, pines bark extract (Pycnogenol), melatonin, bilberry, grape extract, vitamin C, whey protein, and turmeric have all been shown to elevate glutathione.

Fresh whole foods primarily contain glutathione. It is found in raw fruits and vegetables, raw meats and fresh milk (but milk storage reduces the glutathione level). Some of the foods that are high in glutathione include cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts. But don’t expect to find any glutathione in a junk food diet. Cereals, canned and processed foods, and cured meats don’t contain glutathione.

While glutathione has a very long list of impressive benefits, its fundamental role is to improve, if not maximize, the function of every cell in every organ of your body. There are very few other factors, which are as predictive of our life expectancy and longevity as well as our levels of cellular glutathione.

So if you really want to increase your longevity and be around to celebrate your 100th birthday, there’s no time like the present to start revving up those glutathione levels.



  1. Andersen, H. R., “Lower Activity of Superoxide Dismutase and High Activity of Glutathione Reductase in Erythrocytes From Centenarians,” Age and Ageing, 1998; 27:643– 8.
  2. Lang, C. A., Mills, B. J., Lang, H. L., Liu, M.C., Usui, W. M., Richie, J. Jr., Mastropaolo, W., Murrell, S.A. “High blood glutathione levels accompany excellent physical and mental health in women ages 60 to 103 years.” J Lab Clin Med. 2002 Dec; 140(6):380 –1.
  3. Someral, Alan, M.D., Bounos, Gustav, M.D., GOLDENeight Publishing (April 3, 1999)
  4. AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 1996 Nov 1;12(16):1537–41.
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  6. Dufaux, B., “Blood Glutathione Status Following Distance Running,” International Journal of Sports Medicine, 1997;18(2): 89–93.
  7. Powers, S. K., “Exercise Training-Induced Alterations in Skeletal Muscle Antioxidant Capacity: A Brief Review,” Med Sci Sports Exerc, 1999;31(7):987–97.

Sherrill Sellman, ND

Dr Sellman is an international author, psychotherapist, women’s health advocate and seminar presenter. Through her books, Hormone Heresy?—?What Women Must Know About Their Hormones and Mothers Prevent Your Daughters from Getting Breast Cancer, lectures and seminars, she has empowered women all over the world to make more educated and informed choices about their health.