GLUTATHIONE – The Primary Protector

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Glutathione has many important functions in our body, and we will briefly discuss all of these here, but most importantly, it is the king of antioxidants! Unfortunately, our body has to manufacture Glutathione from other vitamins and minerals, so if we are not taking good care of ourselves glutathione levels can be deficient, and with this comes consequences.

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Role as an Antioxidant

If you can go back to high school biology you may remember that in order for a cell to create energy the mitochondria must produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This is a necessary function in every cell. In your eggs it is vital for their health (one reason why science is actually transplanting younger mitochondria into advanced maternal age women’s eggs) and in sperm it is essential for strong progressive forward swimming and fertilization of the egg. Obviously, without a doubt, the health of the mitochondria is paramount to fertility.

The mitochondria use much of the oxygen we breathe in to produce ATP. In doing so, the O2 molecule becomes oxidized which creates free radicals (i.e. H2O2 and formaldehyde) or oxidative stress on the body. Basically, this is mitochondria exhaust and it is bad for cellular and tissue health. Guess whose job it is to clean up this oxidative stress…yup, glutathione, the king anti-’oxidant’. Therefore if glutathione is deficient, the result is damage to the mitochondria. This is why glutathione is so important for whole and more particularly, reproductive health. 

Note: Glutathione’s protective effects are enhanced when enough vitamin C is also present (another potent antioxidant).

 

Role in Immune Function

Glutathione helps fight infections by stimulating cytokine production and the immune response. Nitric oxide is required for fighting infections and is dependent on glutathione for its production. Yeasts, mold, infections, and inflammation all require glutathione to fight and detoxify. Therefore low glutathione levels allow for increased inflammation and autoimmunity.

 

Role in Detoxification

As mentioned, glutathione is our primary protector, and a large part of this job is defending us from environmental toxins, many of which can disrupt hormone levels. We are exposed to these toxins collectively known as ‘xenobiotics’ mostly through contact with plastics, chemicals, pollution, heavy metals, and pesticides. If glutathione levels are low, xenobiotics can cause damage to cellular DNA, cell membranes, and mitochondria.

 

Role in Weight Control

If glutathione levels are low our bodies become more toxic. A body that is toxic will store fat. When glutathione levels are low the mitochondria does not utilize food as well for energy production, so it will store energy as fat.

Note: Unhealthy diets high in sugars and oxidized polyunsaturated fatty acids (industrially produced vegetable oils, i.e. canola & soy), as well as overeating in general, will deplete glutathione levels.

 

Role in Stress

Any excess or chronic stress will affect the body, and its response is to create free radicals. H2O2 or hydrogen peroxide is one of the main toxic substances produced by stress. As previously stated, glutathione rids the body of H2O2 by converting it to water (H20). If glutathione levels are low, or chronic stress is too high, the protective function of glutathione fails.

 

Other Vital Roles

Many of these detailed functions are beyond the scope of this post but are worth mentioning here so that the true importance and impact of glutathione is realized. Glutathione is essential in;

  • The delivery of B12 to cells
  • DNA protein synthesis
  • Proper gene methylation
  • Dopamine and serotonin production
  • Heart & blood vessel (endothelial) health
  • Cellular apoptosis

As you can see, glutathione is clearly a part of so many aspects of our whole health and fertility that ensuring adequate levels is often an integral part of our treatment plans. Glutathione is administered via injection or inhalation because it cannot be absorbed orally. Glutathione injections are a quick, easy, and virtually painless way to improve egg and sperm health in preparation for either natural conception or assisted reproductive procedures such as IVF.

 

Contact Yinstill if you have any more questions or to book a course of glutathione injections.

 

References

General information 

  1. Guoyao Wu, Yun-Zhong Fang, Sheng Yang, Joanne R. Lupton, Nancy D. Turner, Glutathione Metabolism and Its Implications for Health, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 134, Issue 3, March 2004, Pages 489–492
  2. Yun-Zhong Fang, Sheng Yang, Guoyao, Free radicals, antioxidants, and nutrition, Nutrition, Volume 18, Issue 10, October 2002, Pages 872-879
  3. Pizzorno, Joseph. “Glutathione!.” Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.) vol. 13,1 (2014): 8-12.
  4. R. Franco, O. J. Schoneveld, A. Pappa & M. I. Panayiotidis (2007) The central role of glutathione in the pathophysiology of human diseases, Archives of Physiology and Biochemistry, 113:4-5, 234-258

Detoxification

  1. Townsend, Danyelle M et al. “The importance of glutathione in human disease.” Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy = Biomedecine & pharmacotherapie vol. 57,3-4 (2003): 145-55.

Sperm

  1. A. Lenzi, F. Culasso, L. Gandini, F. Lombardo, F. Dondero, Andrology: Placebo-controlled, double-blind, cross-over trial of glutathione therapy in male infertility, Human Reproduction, Volume 8, Issue 10, October 1993, Pages 1657–1662
  2. Ogata, Kazuko et al. “Glutathione supplementation to semen extender improves the quality of frozen-thawed canine spermatozoa for transcervical insemination.” The Journal of reproduction and development vol. 61,2 (2015): 116-22. doi:10.1262/jrd.2014-130
  3. Maiorino, M., Wissing, J. B., Brigelius-Flohé, R., Calabrese, F., Roveri, A., Steinert, P., Ursini, F., Flohé, L. Testosterone mediates expression of the selenoprotein PHGPx by induction of spermatogenesis and not by direct transcriptional gene activation. FASEB J. 12, 1359–1370 (1998)
  4. Ursini F1, Heim S, Kiess M, Maiorino M, Roveri A, Wissing J, Flohé L., Dual function of the selenoprotein PHGPx during sperm maturation. Science. 1999 Aug 27;285(5432):1393-6.
  5. Regina Brigelius-Flohé. Tissue-specific functions of individual glutathione peroxidases. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, Volume 27, Issues 9–10, November 1999, Pages 951-965
  6. A. Bhardwaj, A. Verma, S. Majumdar, K. L. Khanduja. Status of vitamin E and reduced glutathione in semen of oligozoospermic and azoospermic patients. Asian J Androl  2000 Sep; 2: 225-228
  7. Fafula, Roman V et al. “Biological Significance of Glutathione S-Transferases in Human Sperm Cells.” Journal of human reproductive sciences vol. 12,1 (2019): 24-28. doi:10.4103/jhrs.JHRS_106_18

Mitochondria

  1. Marí, Montserrat et al. “Mitochondrial glutathione, a key survival antioxidant.” Antioxidants & redox signaling vol. 11,11 (2009): 2685-700. doi:10.1089/ARS.2009.2695
  2. Alton Meister, Mitochondrial changes associated with glutathione deficiency. Molecular Basis of Disease, Volume 1271, Issue 1, 24 May 1995, Pages 35-42
  3. Gaetano Calabrese, Bruce Morgan, and Jan Riemer. Mitochondrial Glutathione: Regulation and Functions. Antioxidants & Redox Signaling. Volume: 27 Issue 15: November 20, 2017

Nitric Oxide

  1. Guarino, M. P., Afonso, R. A., Raimundo, N., Raposo, J. F. & Macedo, M. P. (2003) Hepatic glutathione and nitric oxide are critical for hepatic insulin-sensitizing substance action. Am. J. Physiol.  284:G588–G594.
  2. Abhiram Prasad et al. Glutathione reverses endothelial dysfunction and improves nitric oxide bioavailability. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Volume 34, Issue 2, August 1999, Pages 507-514
  3. McKinley-Barnard, Sarah et al. “Combined L-citrulline and glutathione supplementation increases the concentration of markers indicative of nitric oxide synthesis.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition vol. 12 27. 10 Jun. 2015, doi:10.1186/s12970-015-0086-7
  4. Atakisi O, Erdogan HM, Atakisi E, Citil M, Kanici A, Merhan O, Uzun M. Effects of reduced glutathione on nitric oxide level, total antioxidant and oxidant capacity and adenosine deaminase activity. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2010 Jan;14(1):19-23
  5. André M, Felley-Bosco E. Heme oxygenase-1 induction by endogenous nitric oxide: influence of intracellular glutathione. FEBS Lett. 2003 Jul 10;546(2-3):223-7
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