Glutathione is definitely human body's most potent and most important antioxidant. It is found intracellular or inside the cell, in all the cells of the body unlike other antioxidants which are found extracellular-outside the cell. Nevertheless, it is not a preserve for the human bodies only, but it is also found in plants, fungi, animals, bacteria etc. In the human body it is synthesized in all the cells and plays an important role in ensuring the proper functioning of the cells.
Glutathione belongs to a class of molecules called antioxidants. Antioxidants have a myriad of health benefits and play significant roles in the body. They participates in a variety of reactions, notably, oxidation and reduction reactions. Their most important role in these reactions, is to get rid of free radicals which can cause harmful effects in the body. Worse, they can cause death of the cells or lead to cancer. Other useful antioxidants include Vitamin C and vitamin E which are got from various dietary sources.
Glutathione Functions in the Body.
Extensive research has gone into understanding and explicating the exact roles of glutathione in the human body. Most of its functions can be attributed to its antioxidant properties and its participation in many enzymatic reactions in the cells of the body. Its potency is a function of its location intracellular in all the cells of the body. This makes it the most widespread endogenous antioxidant produced by the body. Functions include:
a)Natural or Primary Functions
1. Acts directly to neutralize free radicals and oxidized or reactive oxygen molecules. These molecules arise from effects of radiation, various pollutants and even drugs such as chemotherapeutic agents used in treatment of cancer.
2. Keeps in check, the levels of nitric oxide in the body.
3. Helps conserve the levels of exogenous antioxidants such as vitamin c and E so that they do not get exhausted.
4. Crucial in the metabolism of iron in the cells.
5. Participates in very many enzyme-catalyzed reactions in the body. These include:- Synthesis and repair of DNA molecules- Synthesis of prostaglandins- Transport of amino acids- Synthesis of proteins- Activation of metabolic enzymes in the body.
6. Helps in detoxification reactions in the liver hence helps the body get rid of harmful toxins. Overall, glutathione is essential in proper functioning of the whole body. Mainly, it is essential for body tissue repair, body defense system, synthesis of proteins and other chemicals required in the body.
Among its functions, after lots of research, glutathione now has several therapeutic and pharmaceutical uses. It has been found to be a very useful therapeutic agent for the treatment of many diseases specially those related to aging.
1. It is given intravenously to cancer patients on chemotherapy to minimize the side effects.
2. Taken orally for the treatment of:- Alzheimer's disease- Glaucoma- Osteoarthritis- Parkinson's disease- Cataracts- Aging, rather prevent aging
3. Administered intravenously for the treatment of:- Atherosclerosis- Diabetes- Male infertility- Anemia in patients on hemodialysis
4. Administered through inhalation or nasal spray for treatment of lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis.
Availability of Glutathione
The availability of Glutathione is widespread. It occurs naturally in both plants and animals. It is also found in bacteria and fungi. In the human body, it is produced in the liver by the cells and every other cell of the body this includes cells of the immune system, red blood cells, brain cells, neurons etc. Therefore, it is found inside the cells at all times hence its potency over other types of antioxidants. This helps the cells to forestall effects of any radicals or foreign bodies present in the body already or those that may enter the body system later.
Factors that Increases Glutathione in the Body
According to research, eating certain foods can help increase the levels of glutathione in the body. Such foods include diets containing high amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits. In addition, meat that has been freshly prepared has also been found to contain high amounts of glutathione. Therefore, people who eat such foods regularly, ineluctably will have enough from their diets as opposed to those who don't.
Calcitriol or Vitamin d3 is thought to be important catalyst for glutathione production because it has been found to enhance brain levels of glutathione.
S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) has, to some extent been shown to increase glutathione content in the cells of patients suffering from severe disease that deplete glutathione levels.
Glutathione can also be given to people whose levels are decreasing in the form of a supplement. This includes sick people suffering from some chronic ailments and those who are aging. In the markets, we have pharmaceutically prepared glutathione supplements. These can be prescribed for people with depleted levels of glutathione in order to supplement the body's inability to produce enough of this important antioxidant.
The newest entrant in the market is Original Glutathione Formula. This is a glutathione-enhancing product consisting of precursors of glutathione principally, cysteine. It has been developed by Dr. Robert Keller MD. It has been found to increase glutathione in normal cells but to decrease it in cancer cells.
Factors that Decrease Glutathione Levels in the Body.
There are several things that lower glutathione levels in the normal cells, these range from diseases, physiological and physical factors. They include:
- Severe diseases such as AIDs, liver diseases, chronic fatigue syndrome, liver diseases and cancer.- Aging- Poor dieting- Burns and trauma- Severe sepsis- Over training athletes
Glutathione is an important molecule in every human's body. It is also an important factor in establishing a good nutrition. As the most abundant and the only endogenous antioxidant, it plays lots of important roles in keeping the body healthy and free from many diseases. Every day, more and more extensive research goes into trying to unfold other greater benefits of this crucial molecule, this points to the fact that there is still a lot more we don't know about glutathione. But so far, its benefits are tremendous. With a view of its natural primary functions to its widespread utility in treatment of many diseases. Whether or not it will be the breakthrough for treating severe illness like HIV/AIDs and cancer, only time will tell.