Glutathione

glutathione molecule

What is Glutathione? 

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND

It is a substance produced naturally in your liver and is a powerful antioxidant, considered to be the mother of all antioxidants (antioxidants help prevent oxidation and aging).  It is made from three amino acids: glutamic acid, cysteine and glycine.  One of the primary functions of glutathione is cellular detoxification.

Why is glutathione important?

Healthy blood levels are important for protection from heart disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s and aging in general.  Reduced levels occur with aging and are associated with increased oxidative damage.

How do I get glutathione?

Foods contain it and there are glutathione supplements, however, most of what is orally ingested gets broken down in the digestive tract and so it doesn’t have an impact on increasing your blood levels.  For this reason, taking supplements is likely a waste of money, even liposomal glutathione. Consuming the above amino acids may assist your liver in producing more if you need it. Food sources of glutathione include: spinach, asparagus, avocado, squash, okra, cauliflower, broccoli, walnuts, garlic and tomatoes.

How else can I raise my blood level?

There are a number of supplements that have been shown to help raise levels in the blood, including:
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid
  • Milk Thistle
  • MSM
  • Melatonin
  • Curcumin

Your body can also recycle existing glutathione with the help of following vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamins: C, E, B vitamins, active folic acid (L-5MTHF)
  • Minerals: selenium, zinc, vanadium, magnesium

Too Much of a Good Thing?

There is some research that has found higher levels of glutathione in cancer cells.  It may be that the cells have increased their own level as a means of protecting themselves from damage by chemotherapeutic agents or it may be that cancer cells are trying to keep themselves from undergoing normal cell demise known as apoptosis.

Should you supplement with glutathione?

I would say no, for the reasons I have already mentioned: it’s poorly absorbed and broken down in the gut and until we fully understand why glutathione is higher in cancer cells, it may be best to avoid artificially increasing it.  Use of some of the above supplements that help support healthy internal production or recycling seems like safer options.

References:

Yilin Liu, Annastasia S. Hyde, Melanie A. Simpson, and Joseph J. Barycki. Emerging regulatory paradigms in glutathione metabolism. Adv Cancer Res. 2014; 122: 69–101.

Matthew Butawan, Rodney L. Benjamin, and Richard J. Bloomer. Methylsulfonylmethane: Applications and Safety of a Novel Dietary Supplement. Nutrients. 2017 Mar; 9(3): 290.

Antonio Carrillo-Vico, Patricia J. Lardone, Nuria Álvarez-Sánchez, Ana Rodríguez-Rodríguez, and Juan M. Guerrero. Melatonin: Buffering the Immune System. Int J Mol Sci. 2013 Apr; 14(4): 8638–8683.

Jianguo Lin, Youcai Tang, Qiaohua Kang, Yunfeng Feng, and Anping Chen. Curcumin inhibits gene expression of receptor for advanced glycation end-products (RAGE) in hepatic stellate cells in vitro by elevating PPARγ activity and attenuating oxidative stress. Br J Pharmacol. 2012 Aug; 166(8): 2212–2227.

CoQ10

structure of CoQ10
What is CoQ10?

CoQ10, also known as coenzyme Q10 or ubiquinone, is a naturally-occurring compound found in every cell in the body and is vital for healthy heart and muscle function, among other things.

Why is Coenzyme Q10 Important?

CoQ10 plays a key role in producing energy in the form of ATP in the mitochondria – the energy powerhouse of the cell. Every cell in your body needs adequate levels of this coenzyme to have sufficient energy to work properly. Low levels of CoQ10 have been found in patients with heart failure, cardiomyopathy, Parkinson’s disease and those on cholesterol lowering medications called statin drugs.  CoQ10 supplementation has been proven to improve these conditions as well as helping diabetics improve their blood sugar control and blood pressure and topical application can help with periodontal (gum) disease.

Statin medications can reduce levels of ubiquinone, and cause fatigue, muscle pain, muscle tenderness, muscle weakness, night time cramping, and tendon pain.  We always recommend supplementation if you are taking statin drugs.

Recent research has also suggested a role for CoQ10 in infertility.

Best Food Sources of CoQ10 (mg per serving)

Pork heart (24 mg)

Beef heart (4.8 mg)

Chicken leg (2.0 mg)

Herring (0.7 mg)

Trout (1.1 mg)

What are the Best CoQ10 Supplements?

Not crazy about those food options? Quality supplements are available through excellent manufacturers like Metagenics, Douglas Labs and Xymogen.  Metagenics has formulated a nanomicelle CoQ10 that delivers 1,000 times smaller molecules than other formulas, which places the active ingredient closer to cell membranes. It has been demonstrated in a study to be more bioavailable, increasing plasma levels by 25-50%, so less supplementation is required.  Douglas Labs offers a lozenge that may help gum disease.  Xymogen’s CoQMax has been shown in clinical trials to be over eight times more absorbable than powdered CoQ10 and more than twice as bioavailable as other oil-based or so-called “nano”-dispersed formulas on the market.

CoQ10 References:

Skarlovnik A, Janić M, Lunder M, Turk M, Šabovič M. Coenzyme Q10 supplementation decreases statin-related mild-to-moderate muscle symptoms: a randomized clinical study. Med Sci Monit. 2014 Nov 6;20:2183-8. doi: 10.12659/MSM.890777.

Wang LW, Jabbour A, Hayward CS, Furlong TJ, Girgis L, Macdonald PS, Keogh AM. Potential role of coenzyme Q10 in facilitating recovery from statin-induced rhabdomyolysis. Intern Med J. 2015 Apr;45(4):451-3. doi: 10.1111/imj.12712.

Ben-Meir A, Burstein E, Borrego-Alvarez A, Chong J, Wong E, Yavorska T, Naranian T, Chi M, Wang Y, Bentov Y, Alexis J, Meriano J, Sung HK, Gasser DL, Moley KH, Hekimi S, Casper RF, Jurisicova A. Coenzyme Q10 restores oocyte mitochondrial function and fertility during reproductive aging. Aging Cell. 2015 Oct;14(5):887-95. doi: 10.1111/acel.12368. Epub 2015 Jun 26.