Glutathione: The tiny molecule with an enormous job

Glutathione: The areas of action

The master antioxidant Glutathione is a vital and very powerful endogenous antioxidant that is present in almost all human cells. Because glutathione (in reduced form) is such a powerful redox buffer, it is also called the master antioxidant.
Inside the cell, it protects our DNA, cell lipids, and proteins from free radicals and peroxides, which can cause damage to human cell structures and thus interfere with the proper functioning of metabolism.


Glutathione is also an important component for biotransformation. In this process, non-excretable substances are bound and made water-soluble in order to be subsequently be excreted via the kidneys. Among other things, this detoxification process eliminates xenobiotics (synthetic compounds foreign to the body, such as pesticides and pharmaceuticals) and heavy metals [2].
Even though the human organism produces glutathione on its own, it is often difficult for the body to maintain a healthy level due to negative environmental influences.

The radical scavenger as a health indicator

The amount of oxidative stress in the body can be determined by the ratio of reduced (GSH) and oxidized glutathione (GSSG). This ratio has already been dubbed a clinical marker to assess the course of various diseases.

Normally, a ratio of 9:1 of reduced glutathione to oxidized glutathione is present in the human body [3]. However, due to various toxic influences, the balance is shifted towards the oxidized status.

Oxidized glutathione must first be recovered by glutathione reductase in order to fulfill its functions as reduced glutathione. In general, the glutathione concentration is significantly reduced in chronic diseases, such as excretory, digestive or cardiovascular diseases [4].

Influence on the aging process

Age is another factor that massively influences the body's glutathione level. Due to the age-related decline in self-synthesis, the glutathione status in the body deteriorates from the age of approximately 45 and drops particularly rapidly after the age of 60 [5][6].

The loss of this protective function inevitably increases oxidative stress, which in turn can have a negative effect on the aging process. Based on current research results, it is assumed that the glutathione level in the body has a decisive influence on aging [7].

A study from Denmark confirms this and shows astonishing results. In the study, the glutathione levels of people aged between 60 and 79 were compared with those of people aged between 100 and 106. It was found that the endogenous glutathione level from the group of people over 100 years of age was significantly higher than in the younger comparison group. The 100-year-olds, who had the better health status, also possessed the higher glutathione level [8].

Although it was not clarified whether genetic factors or environmental influences played the decisive role, the importance of the glutathione level for health could be illustrated!

Glutathione for a shiny skin

There is also initial evidence for the positive effects of glutathione on human skin. A randomized, placebo-controlled double-blind study conducted over 12 weeks shows that even the dosage of 250 mg of glutathione per day has a positive influence. Thus, the subjects taking glutathione showed a tendency to increased skin elasticity compared to the placebo group. A reduction in wrinkles was also observed in the glutathione group [9]. Therefore, the nutrient is also considered by experts to be a suitable anti-aging agent.

The support of the immune system

The reduced form of glutathione (GSH) is also of great importance for the immune system. On the one hand, it helps in the activation of T-lymphocytes and, on the other hand, supports the white blood cells, which are actively involved in the defense against pathogens. The peptide is also involved in the production of cytokines. These signal molecules ensure efficient communication of immune cells and support the human defense system!

Glutathione and the influence on the human lung

Glutathione is also highly regarded among lung researchers. The endogenous glutathione system represents one of the most important protective mechanisms of the human lung. It is a vital intracellular and extracellular antioxidant that protects against oxidative and nitrosative stress and plays a key role in controlling inflammatory processes in the lung [10].

Glutathione is present in the epithelial mucosal fluid of the lung at concentrations 50 to 60 times higher than in blood plasma [11]. Usually, inflammatory lung diseases are characterized by chronic inflammation and an imbalance between oxidants and antioxidants. This is usually the main cause of cellular damage [12].

If an external stress, such as cigarette smoke, now occurs, the lung initially increases the body's own glutathione production to compensate for the increasing oxidative stress. However, if the organism already has to use more glutathione than usual due to negative environmental influences, it is doubtful whether the lungs can permanently withstand the increased demand.

Other factors can also influence lung function. For example, a bacterium that blocks the glutathione recycling mechanism in the lungs. According to researchers, this bacterium may be involved in why only about 20 percent of smokers develop COPD [13].

Liposomal Glutathione

One daily 400 mg dose of ActiNovo liposomal glutathione is equal to the amount of glutathione naturally found in 10 medium-sized avocados!

Glutathione in food

Glutathione is not only produced by the body itself, but is also absorbed through food. The food sources for the nutrient are meat, poultry, fish, fresh fruits and vegetables. If we compare asparagus as a food with a high glutathione content of ~ 28 mg per 100 g with conventional whole wheat bread (~ 1.2 mg per 100 g), the differences become clear [15].

Consequently, a balanced diet can also support glutathione intake! However, no studies are available on how much glutathione from food can actually be absorbed by the human body. Experts suspect poor bioavailability of the nutrient, i.e. that only a small portion is absorbed and actually exerts its effect.

How to enhance the effect of glutathione?

An adequate supply of proteins can ensure that new glutathione is produced in the body. In addition, the intake of cysteine, glycine and glutamic acid can help to boost the body's own synthesis. An adequate supply of selenium also supports the enzymatic processes for gluathione synthesis.

Glutathione Study:

Elderly people usually have lower glutathione levels. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [16] investigated the effect of glutathione building blocks (cysteine and glycine) in the 60 to 75 age group.

The aim was to find out whether the increasing oxidative stress and decreased glutathione synthesis in the elderly can be compensated by dietary supplementation with cysteine and glycine. The result: a 14-day supplementation was able to increase the cellular glutathione concentration. In addition, a reduction of oxidative stress was measured!

The effective intake to prevent glutathione deficiency

However, a supportive supply only makes sense if enough glutathione reaches the body. Due to its structure, however, the bioavailability of this nutrient is very low. Therefore, with conventional supplements, such as capsules and powders, usually only a small part is absorbed and utilized by the body.

To eliminate this problem and guarantee optimal absorption, ActiNovo encapsulates the nutrient in liposomes and offers liposomal glutathione with and without flavor!

A clinical study proves the increased bioavailability with the help of liposomes! In the study, subjects consumed 500 mg of glutathione per day over a 7-day period. The study showed that the subjects' blood serum levels increased 63-fold compared to standard products! The liposomal technology manages to exploit the full potential of glutathione without an injection!

Glutathione : Summary

Glutathione is an essential antioxidant for our body. Although the human organism produces this small peptide itself, studies showed that in case of excessive oxidative stress caused by natural processes (aging) or external factors (pollution and stress), the additional intake of glutathione can help staying healthy and vital! Due to the promising antioxidant properties, nutritionists recommend the preventive intake of liposomal glutathione to prevent glutathione deficiency!

1. Jones DP. 2008; in press. 2 – Jones DP et al. Nutr Cancer. 1992;17:57-75. 3 – Flagg EW et al. Am J Epidemiol
4. Lang CA, Mills BJ, Mastropaolo W, Liu MC. Blood glutathione decreases in chronic diseases. J Lab Clin Med 2000;135:402–5.
5. Lang CA et al. J Lab Clin Med. 1992;120(5):720-25.
6. Van Lieshout EM, Peters WH. Carcinogenesis. 1998 Oct;19(10):1873-5.
15. McCarty, Mark F, and James J DiNicolantonio. “An increased need for dietary cysteine in support of glutathione synthesis may underlie the increased risk for mortality associated with low protein intake in the elderly.” Age (Dordrecht, Netherlands) vol. 37,5 (2015): 96. doi:10.1007/s11357-015-9823-8