You may have heard of a substance called glutathione. It is an extremely powerful antioxidant and in fact has been called “the mother of all antioxidants”. The good news is glutathione is produced in your own body; the bad news is many people don’t produce enough of it.

Glutathione is a very hard working molecule. It helps to mop up free radicals produced from exposure to air pollution, toxic chemicals, heavy metals and processed foods, as well as free radicals generated as a result of regular metabolic processes. If those free radicals are left to their own devices in your body, they speed up your rate of aging by causing oxidative damage to your organs and tissues.

Unfortunately, several factors impair the body’s ability to manufacture glutathione, including illness, aging, stress and nutrient deficiencies. Several different health problems are strongly correlated with low glutathione. It is thought that low glutathione contributes to the development of the condition and also worsens the illness and inhibits recovery. People with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivity, autoimmune disease and liver disease are known to have low glutathione. Glutathione also helps your body fight infections, therefore repeated or lingering infections are another sign you could be deficient.

What exactly is glutathione?

It is a small molecule made from 3 amino acids (building blocks of protein). These amino acids are glutamine, cysteine and glycine. Glutathione also contains sulfur, and sulfur is an excellent detoxifier, which is particularly necessary for phase 2 liver detoxification. Several nutrients are required for the manufacture of glutathione, and being deficient in these will impair your production of this vital compound. Fortunately there are several ways of boosting your production of glutathione.

Top 5 ways to boost your glutathione level

  1. Ensure you consume plenty of sulfur. Sulfur is a smelly substance, so it’s no surprise to learn it is found in cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, onion, garlic, leek and eggs. If you don’t include much of these foods in your diet, you can take a natural sulfur supplement called MSM. This stands for methyl sulfonyl methane. It is traditionally taken by people who want to improve their liver health and also reduce joint pain, but MSM is also necessary for glutathione production.
  2. Make sure there is plenty of selenium in your diet. You probably know how important selenium is for the health of your immune system and thyroid gland. It is also a powerful antioxidant and this is largely because of its role in glutathione production. Unfortunately many parts of the world have selenium deficient soils and very few foods are a rich source of this mineral. The best food sources of selenium include Brazil nuts, seafood, onion and garlic. Getting plenty of those foods in your diet is a good way of maintaining your health, but if you wish to improve your health, you may need to take a selenium supplement.
  3. Take an n-acetyl cysteine (NAC) supplement. This substance is a precursor to glutathione. Studies have shown that most oral forms of glutathione are not well absorbed. The body tends to digest it to its building blocks and blood levels of glutathione don’t rise significantly. NAC supplements tend to be far more effective. This substance has a long history of use; it is given to patients who overdose on Tylenol because it can prevent liver damage. NAC also helps to protect the kidneys from potential harm caused by contrast dyes used in diagnostic scans. Taking an NAC supplement each day can help to protect your body from oxidative damage and help to make you a more efficient detoxifier.
  4. Try to get some regular exercise. It boosts your body’s production of glutathione. As long as you don’t exercise to complete exhaustion, exercise acts as a minor stress on your body, boosts your immune system and improves your detoxification abilities. It is often said that “sitting is inflammatory” because inactivity raises your body’s production of inflammation generating compounds. Exercise helps to counteract that.
  5. Make sure you get plenty of methylation nutrients in your diet. Methylation is a process that assists your body’s production of glutathione. The main nutrients required for methylation are B vitamins, particularly B6, B9 (folate) and B12. B12 is found in animal foods such as meat, poultry and seafood, while plant foods are an excellent source of the other B vitamins. It is important to eat lots of vegetables each day, either as salads, vegetable juices, smoothies, or cooked vegetables.

Ensuring sufficient glutathione production is one of the most powerful ways you can improve your health.

The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.