What is Glutathione? The ‘Master Antioxidant’ and What it Does for You
Glutathione is a tripeptide, which means it is constructed out of three separate amino acids. These amino acids are cysteine, glutaminic acid and glycine. Glutathione is the most important of all the antioxidants that are produced in the body and this makes it a potent agent for combating free radicals and peroxides.
It also has a number of additional functions all its own, which include:
- Maintaining vitamin C and E
- Regulating the production of hydrogen peroxide
- Neutralizing lipid peroxide by-products
- Assisting in removing unwanted toxins from the body
What is an Antioxidant?
To answer what is glutathione, first we should look at what an antioxidant is in general. Antioxidant is a broad term that describes substances that prevent oxidation in the body. Oxidation happens when molecules called free radicals collide with the cell walls and trigger a reaction. This reaction damages the cell walls and over time, this can actually add up to result in physical changes such as wrinkles and age spots.
But what’s more worrying is that these ‘free radicals’ can eventually completely penetrate the cell walls and make their way into the central nucleus. Here, they might come into contact with the DNA and cause damage to the very code that underlies our cells. This can lead to unwanted mutations occurring, which are then copied and repeated as the cell splits through mitosis. As this area grows, this is what causes a cancerous tumor and this is why it is so important that we use antioxidants.
Antioxidants work by neutralizing the unwanted free radicals. This may mean that they render them inert on contact, or it might mean that they are less likely to be produced in the first place. On top of this, antioxidants can provide a range of other useful benefits, such as combating inflammation and even improving athletic performance!
Where Does Glutathione Come From?
But that still doesn’t answer ‘what is glutathione’. So where does this mysterious substance come from? Specifically, glutathione is synthesized in the body, meaning that you don’t need to get it from your diet.
However, what you do need is the amino acids that the substance is made from. Specifically, that means you need l-cysteine, l-glutamic acid and glycine. The biggest limiting factor here though is cysteine, which is relatively hard to find in your food.
I know what you’re thinking: ‘well, I’ll just take it as a supplement!’. Not so fast, as it turns out that cysteine is actually toxic when taken as a free amino acid and also gets destroyed in the gastrointestinal tract and blood plasma…….
Source: Vita Monk