Glutathione is the most abundant antioxidant in the body.

There are 3 amino acids that make up glutathione:

  1. Glutamine
  2. Cysteine
  3. Glycine

Glutamine

It is stated that Glutamine is the most abundant amino acids in animals, including humans, it is easily absorbed and deficiencies are extremely rare.

Cysteine

Cysteine is generally the main focus of glutathione synthesis.  It is claimed that unbound dietary cysteine is poorly absorbed, and can be toxic in excessive amounts.  Cystein is required for glutathione production, however the dietary sources of unbound cysteine is not the preferred way for humans to acquire cysteine.  Dietary methionine is one of the main source of cysteine.  Methione is an essential amino acid as the body cannot synthesise it.

Methionine

It is found in meats, egg whites, grains, nuts, seeds and in the whey of milk, and some beans.  Most people get enough methionine, once it is consumed it is converted to a substance called SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine.  SAMe is known as a methyl donor, lots of reactions in the body require methyl molecules, and SAMe gets converted into HOMOCYSTEINE.

Homocysteine

Homocysteine can be converted to cysteine in the body.  However, if homocysteine in the blood is elevated it is called homocysteinemia and it is associated with elevated OXIDATIVE STRESS, and it is linked with many diseases. If a person is healthy, homocysteine gets converted to either cysteine or it gets converted back into methionine and this averts the damaing effects of too much homocysteine.  However, for this to occur the body required GLYCINE and Vitamin B6.  On the other hand, homocysteine can convert to methionine with the addition of Vitamin B12 and FOLATE.  Glycine is the most abundant amino acids in the body, it is non-essential, which means that our body can synthesize all the glycine that we need from other nutrients, however, there is possibly a deficiency in many people.

What determines the conversion to either Cysteine or Methionine?

The needs of the body and the availability of nutrients.  For example, if the body already has an excess of either cysteine or methionine, then homocysteine will not convert into this, therefore, supplementing with cysteine is not a good idea if homocysteine levels are already high.

What to do?

Get a blood test from the Doctor:

  1. Folate – on the test results you want your folate levels to be near the top of the normal range
  2. B12 – on the test results you want your folate levels to be near the top of the normal range
  3. Homocysteine – on the test results homocysteine level between 4 and 6.5 micromoles per liter.

Vitamin B6

B6 is found abundantly in animal foods, particularly meat, but it is also found in plant foods such as sweet potatoes, avocados and spinach. Vitamin B6 supplementation is most commonly available as pyridoxine, combined to form a combound such as pyridoxine HCL or called pyridoxal 5 phospahate or P5P, P5P is said to be safer.

Folate

FOLATE however, is harder to get unless you eat a lot of leafy green vegetables and beans. Many foods are fortified with synthetic folic acid because there is a folate deficiency worldwide, however, there is evidence that many people have difficulty converting synthetic folic acid to the usable form of folate, which means that folic acid supplementation is ineffective for many people to meet their folate needs.  Folate can be in the form of folic acid, dihydrofolic acid, tetrahydrofolate and others, however, cheap supplements are normally not provided in forms that are not biologically active.  Folic acid its not biologically active.   The best way to obtain nutrients are from FOOD and it is the safest way, however, most people do not eat enough essential nutrients such as FOLATE and supplements seem more effective.  Active forms of folate are Metafolin, 5-methyltetrahydrofolic acid, these forms already contain methyl groups and can increase methylation in the body.  Do not take anything more than 400mcg of folate unless you have been advised to.  If you supplement with folate it is recommended to also supplement with B12, because FOLATE can mask a B12 deficiency which can lead to very serious health problems.

Vitamin B12

The best source of B12 is through animal foods such as meat, dairy and eggs, If you are a vegan or eat very little foods containing B12.  Vegans can have elevated homocystein levels, which can be due to a combined B12 and glycine deficiency.

Glycine

Glycine itself is found in large amounts in the brain skin, bones, connective tissue, eyes.  It is thought that in the past humans had a higher intake of glycine as all the animal parts were eaten which are now discarded, that is why chicken soup is considered to be healing as it is made from the whole chicken, including bones, connective tissue and skin which means a great source of glycine.  The most convenient way to increase glycine is by supplementing with free-form glycine, available as a nutritional supplement.  However, for those that would like to get it in a food source, the most conveninent is GELATIN.

BUT It’s not just DIET

What causes an out of balance glutathione?

  • Drugs such as paracetamol and other pharmaceutical drugs
  • Alcohol
  • Diets containing mycotoxins such as poorly processed peanuts, coffee and grains
  • Lifestyle factors such as insufficient sleep and overexercise
  • Calorie restriction diets, depletes nutrients on all levels
  • Protein restriction eg. Vegans and other people unintentionally restriting their dietary protein intake, eg. Meat, eggs and dairy. Recommended 0.8-1 gram of protein per kg of body weight.
  • Inadequate quality sleep, 7-9 hours of sleep every night, sleep is best during the hours of darkness, avoidance of bright light during the night, and adequate bright light exposure during the day.
  • Different types of exercise have different effects, sustained high intensity exercise such as long distance running can create oxidative stress and damage, however, high intensity exercise in short bursts with adequate rest can lead to balanced glutathione levels.

Get some tests and further advice before embarking on the Glutathione Antioxidant Journey, it can

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