This study concluded that "dietary glutathione is not a major determinant of circulating glutathione, and it is not possible to increase circulating glutathione to a clinically beneficial extent by the oral administration of a single dose of 3 g of glutathione."
Stay up to date with the latest news by signing up for our e-zine:
So, now that we have that covered, don't waste your money on oral glutathione supplements, whether they are reduced or otherwise at the health food store or online. They simply won't help you to know how to raise glutathione. They won't work.
OK...so now, what are the best methods for boosting your glutathione levels?
There are some pharmaceutical drugs that have been developed for how to raise your glutathione, and also some natural means. The following contains a list and description of how to raise glutathione, based on Dr. Jimmy Gutman's bestseller, "Glutathione - Your Key To Health":
How To Raise Glutathione With Pharmaceuticals:
N-Acetyl-Cysteine: Commonly also referred to as NAC. This is a potent glutathione precursor that is available as a drug with and without a prescription.
Some examples of this are Mucomist, an inhalation solution to break up mucus for treatment of cystic fibrosis or emphysema, and Parvolex, which is an IV injection to treat drug overdose.
N-acetyl-cysteine is also available in much smaller dosages over the counter on the shelves of health food stores. To make N-acetyl-cysteine, L-Cysteine, which is another precursor, has been altered to enhance its availability to the cell to be used in how to raise glutathione.
For many years, N-acetyl-cysteine has been a standard treatment in breaking up mucus for diseases such as cystic fibrosis, bronchitis, COPD, and asthma.
It has also been a standard emergency medicine for years for use in treating the number one cause of liver failure,
If a person accidentally overdosed on acetaminophen, or tried to commit suicide by overdosing on acetaminophen, and they went to the Emergency Room, then large doses of N-acetyl-cysteine would be administered in the ER to quickly raise the patient's glutathione, and keep their liver from failing and certain death. This treatment has saved lives in this circumstance.
However, as with all drugs there are potential side effects. This is true of N-acetyl-cysteine, and another drawback is it’s short half-life. N-acetyl-cysteine to be taken several times a day to be effective, so this can be hard on the body.
Many unwanted symptoms have been reported, including rash, wheezing, nausea, vomiting, cramps and diarrhea. Because of the sulfur bond , many find the taste and smell of rotten eggs objectionable. Although rare,
(this link opens in a new window) has been reported in association with N-acetyl-cysteine.
(Note: The one case I found, referenced above, was also associated with
, and involved a brittle asthmatic patient who died after treatment with intravenous N-acetyl-cysteine. Asthma is a risk factor for adverse reactions to N-acetyl-cysteine and special caution should be exercised in its use in brittle asthmatic patients. The report noted that "Serious reactions to N-acetylcysteine however, are rare and there have been no previous reported fatalities with its therapeutic use.")
N-acetyl-cysteine is still the most commonly used way for how to raise glutathione today in clinical settings. However, for regular daily usage for how to raise glutathione, it is not recommended for infants and children. More research needs to be done on the effects of long term usage of N-acetyl-cysteine before we can evaluate its safety over the long term.
A recently published study from the University of Virginia School of Medicine with NAC found that "the NAC-treated mice developed pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) that mimicked the effects of chronic hypoxia...These data reveal an unanticipated adverse effect of chronic NAC administration and introduce a new animal model of PAH."
You can view the study entitled "S-nitrosothiols signal hypoxia-mimetic vascular pathology" from J Clin Invest. 2007 Sep;117(9):2377-80 online at PubMed
(this opens in a new window)
This can lead to pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), a serious condition characterized by high blood pressure in the arteries that carry blood to the lungs.
"NAC fools the body into thinking that it has an oxygen shortage," said Dr. Ben Gaston, UVa Children's Hospital pediatrician and researcher who led the study. "We found that an NAC product formed by red blood cells, know as a nitrosothiol, bypasses the normal regulation of oxygen sensing. It tells the arteries in the lung to 'remodel'; they become narrow, increasing the blood pressure in the lungs and causing the right side of the heart to swell."
You can also read the complete commentary that includes the above quote on the implications of this study
How To Raise Glutathione With Natural Products:
Oral Glutathione: There are a number of foods that have been found to be high in glutathione, including fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats. You can also buy it in pill or powder form from nutritional companies. Why not just eat it, after all?
The problem with this approach is that the body breaks it down, and most of it is eliminated. So as a result, this will have no effect on raising glutathione.
Cysteine or L-Cysteine: This is commonly referred to as free cysteine. It is considered a non-essential amino acid , which means it can be made by the human body. It can be found in foods like meats, dairy products, and certain foods.
We can also buy this at the health food store, and you will see it by itself, or more commonly in whey protein powders for bodybuilders. In this case, it is great for building muscle, but will do very little to raise your glutathione.
It is easily oxidized in the digestive tract, just like glutathione, and as a result, the absorption into the cells is limited. Cysteine that does make it into the bloodstream can be further oxidized and do more damage than good.
So while cysteine is one of the three building blocks of glutathione, this alone has a negligible impact on how to raise glutathione levels.
Methionine or L- Methionine: Methionine is an essential amino acid that may also be used by the body to make cysteine if enough of it is available. Together, cysteine and methionine make up the two sulfur containing amino acids. Its derivative, SAM, is discussed above.
This too is available in foods, pharmaceutical supply outlets, and health food stores. The way methionine is made into glutathione is very complex. One of the risk factors for methionine is that it also produces homocysteine, which is a high risk factor for hardening of the arteries.
Melatonin: This is a hormone that naturally occurs in the brain. It is made by the pineal gland. It is a derivative of the amino acid L-tryptophan and the neurotransmitter serotonin.
There are some food sources for melatonin, including the tart montmorency cherry, oats, sweet corn, rice, bananas, tomatoes, flax seed, sunflower seeds, and several leaves, such as feverfew and St. John's Wort.
Melatonin has other roles as well, including functioning as an antioxidant, and also to effectively raise glutathione levels.
There have been many studies done on this aspect of melatonin, but as of yet, the long term safety of melatonin has not been well established, and the effect varies from person to person. If taken as a supplement, this product should only be used in conjunction with your health care professional.
Glutamine: Glutamine is the most abundant free amino acids found in the body. It is useful in raising glutathione. One of the few amino acids that crosses the blood-brain barrier, it is normally plentiful in the diet today.
There are many functions of glutamine, including it’s role in metabolizing and maintaining lean muscle. It can also build up your immune system, play a role in anti-cancer therapy, boost brain function, and detoxify the body.
Glutamine supplies the body with glutamate, one of the three amino acids that raise glutathione, and it is the second most important component after cysteine. Glutamate is found in many plant and animal sources, but is easily destroyed by cooking.
It is also found in raw spinach, parsley, and raw meat, but with the health risks associated with the latter, is not recommended. Completely healthy individuals don’t need supplemental glutamine. Any serious use of this supplement for help in how to raise glutathione should be monitored by a health care professional.
Lipoic Acid: This is also commonly referred to as Alpha-Lipoic Acid. The roles of this substance are as an antioxidant, neutralizer of toxins and heavy metals, and recycler of other antioxidants like Vitamin C and Vitamin E. It occurs naturally in the body, and is also available on the shelves of health food stores. it can also be found in small amounts in foods like spinach and broccoli.
Lipoic Acid works by keeping glutathione in its reduced state. This is good, because in its reduced stated, glutathione can do its job as an antioxidant. So they have a partnership of sorts. One reason glutathione is called the Master Antioxidant is because it also helps to keep lipoic acid in it’s reduced state as well.
There is some research demonstrating that a lipoic acid supplement is best taken along with L-Carnitine for the best results in raising glutathione.
There are promising results with lipoic acid being demonstrated with medical studies. For some, there are short term side effects, and so more research is being done on this substance to see what other benefits it may have in addition to raising glutathione.
Silymarin: Silymarin is the substance extracted from the milk thistle plant. As such, at times, these terms are used interchangeably.
This has been used by herbalists for centuries to treat a variety of liver disorders, like cirrhosis or hepatitis. It seems to stimulate the growth and regeneration of injured liver cells. It can also act as a free radical scavenger, enhancing detoxification in the liver.
There are ongoing studies demonstrating silymarin’s effectiveness in raising glutathione levels. Recommended doses vary greatly, from 50- 500 mg a day. Toxic reactions can include gas, cramps, and diarrhea.
Since it may lower blood sugar, it should be used with caution by diabetics. Liver diseases, including auto immune liver disease, should always be treated with the assistance of a health care professional.
Glutathione Injections: Typically administered by injection, or intravenously (IV), this is very effective in how to raise glutathione blood plasma concentrations temporarily, but does not raise it in the lymphocytes where you need it to build up your immune system.
A standard dosage may be mixed with saline, and is best administered alone rather than combined with other antioxidants.
It can be injected up to three times a week. While somewhat effective short-term, it is expensive, and requires the assistance of a health professional. Since the glutathione molecule is too large to pass into your white blood cells, it does not feed your immune system and help you to ward off illness.
Another drawback to IV glutathione administration is the short half life. Glutathione is raised, but it typically only lasts a few hours in the body and so has to be administered several times. Blood glutathione levels will peak following administration, and then taper off in some cases to even lower levels of glutathione than you had before the glutathione injection. Long term, this would not be helpful to you.
Given these drawbacks, getting glutathione injections is less than desirable.
The best way for how to raise glutathione is to manufacture it in the cell, where it lasts longer and also builds up your immune system. As an alternative, injections work very well and have been shown in studies to have a beneficial effect on many disease states including Parkinson's Disease and Autism.
Undenatured Whey Protein: Also called bioactive whey protein. Undenatured whey protein is a globular protein isolated from whey. The most common form of whey available comes from cow’s milk.
Raw milk contains about 20% whey. Because of pasteurization and the legal requirements regarding this today, all milk being sold commercially now is pasteurized and thus “dead” from a biological standpoint.
So, the milk that you buy in the grocery store does not contain undenatured whey protein and will not help you to learn how to raise glutathione.
All whey proteins that you can buy in the store are denatured, which means they are not bioactive. If you can buy it in a tub, and it comes in vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, it is great as a dietary source of whey, but has been “killed” in this way and will have no effect on how to raise glutathione levels in your cells.
It is not undenatured whey protein, and it is not bioactive, even if the label says it is. It will not help you to know how to raise glutathione.
To have a measurable affect on glutathione levels, the protein must be bioactive or undenatured. This will also help to build up your immune system.
What this means is the whey must be processed in such a manner that the heat-sensitive proteins and amino acids are preserved. When these amino acids are preserved, you end up with an efficient way to deliver cysteine to the cells. This is an important factor to consider when learning how to raise glutathione in your cells.
The form in which it is found in mother’s breast milk and in raw cow’s milk is called bonded cysteine, and is an excellent delivery vehicle for the cell to make glutathione.
It has been well known now for many years that babies who are breast fed as infants have very high glutathione levels, and as a result, they have stronger immune systems and resist disease longer as adults. This is because they received lots of bonded cysteine from their mother while breast feeding!
And adults who continue the process by consuming undenatured whey protein also have higher resistance to disease and stronger immune systems. The common factor is bonded cysteine supplementation! This is a key factor in knowing how to raise glutathione in your cells.
For how to raise glutathione, there is a slide presentation on the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) website entitled “Method of Intracellular GSH Enhancement: Undenatured Whey Protein Concentration”. To view this presentation, click
(this link opens in a new window)
Slides 19-27 may be interesting for you to view, and they demonstrate how this product works to enhance the immune system, and also why cystine is the preferred form of amino acid for manufacturing glutathione in the cells. What is cystine?
A technical note regarding terms here. This can get a little confusing. Here is the difference between cysteine and cystine, and some interchangeable terms that are used with cystine.
Cysteine : One free cysteine molecule, limited in it's ability to raise glutathione.
Cystine = two cysteine molecules linked together by a sulfur bond = bonded cysteine = very effective in raising glutathione.
The journey of a bonded cysteine or cystine molecule from the mother’s breast or cow’s udder to your cells to make glutathione is a fascinating journey indeed. Let's follow along!
When bonded cysteine is consumed from the mother's breast, or from undenatured whey protein made from raw cow's milk, it is in the form of two cysteine molecules bonded together by a sulfur bond. When free cysteine is consumed, it is normally destroyed in the gut.
But when two of them are bonded together, it makes them "safe", and this bond is pepsin and trypsin resistant, which means your digestive enzymes will not be able to dissolve this bond. This is a good thing and what makes bonded cysteine so special!
The bonded cysteine is absorbed through the intestinal walls into the bloodstream, which carries it to each and every cell in your body. That's 100 trillion cells in an average human body, and it goes to each and every one of them!
Once the bonded cysteine enters the cell, it then breaks apart into two free cysteine molecules, and then each of these cysteine molecules can combine with available glycine and glutamate and make glutathione right there in each and every cell.
It's quite a masterfully designed process!
Much published research can be found using undenatured whey protein online today. When glutathione is raised in this manner, it has the best overall effect on the body, including building up the immune system.
For a complete and thorough discussion of undenatured whey protein, how it works, and why we think it is the best way for raising glutathione, click
There are some other necessary supplements that must be available in the body for knowing how to raise glutathione:
How To Raise Glutathione with Other Factors Necessary For Production:
Selenium: A trace element or micronutrient that is primarily an antioxidant. There are a number of medical studies showing selenium's effects on many diseases states, and most agree the main way this works is by elevating glutathione peroxidase, an important enzyme of glutathione. So selenium can be helpful in how to raise glutathione. Selenium is found in selenium-rich soil, so much depends on the source of the food.
The suggested daily intake is 40-70 micrograms per day. If you are in good health, you should need no more than that. It is rare to be deficient in selenium if you are in good health. Additionally, caution should be exercised, since too much can cause toxicity, leading to a condition called selenosis.
Vitamin B1, B2: These are water soluble vitamins that help to maintain glutathione and its related enzymes in their active forms.
B1 or Thiamine is found in cereal grains, yeast, pork, brown rice, certain vegetables, and eggs. B2 or Riboflavin is also essential for glutathione production and energy metabolism.
B2 can be found in dairy products, leafy green vegetables, liver, legumes, and yeast. The current recommended daily dose of these vitamins is 10-50 mg/day for most people.
However, many health professionals feel this may be too low , and so the optimum may be up to 300 mg/day. Since they are water soluble, any excess is excreted from the body and so toxicity is not normally an issue.
Vitamin B6, B12: These too are water soluble vitamins. They play an important role in glutathione synthesis. B6 is crucial for the function of many amino acids and essential fatty acids. It also helps with glucose and lipid metabolism.
B12 helps to produce red blood cells, myelin, DNA, and other neurological tissues. For this reason, it plays a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system. B12 also helps to regenerate folate in the body.
Folic Acid: Also known as folate, helps with making DNA and transmission of nervous signals. It has also been shown to help with cardiovascular disease. Children and adults alike need folic acid to prevent anemia or iron deficiency.
For learning how to raise glutathione , folate helps to make sure available cysteine is converted into glutathione rather than homocysteine. Under normal circumstances the recommended dosage of B6 is 10-50 mg/day, B12 is 10-50 mcg, Folic acid of 400 mcg per day.
Vitamin C: Also known as ascorbic acid, this is probably the best known water soluble vitamin. Most living organisms can make their own Vitamin C, but humans cannot, so it must be supplemented.
Vitamin C has been the subject of medical studies regarding it's role as an antioxidant for many years now. Vitamin C has a key role in glutathione metabolism. It is involved in the glutathione enzyme system which keeps Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and other antioxidants in their reduced state.
This preserves their ability to keep on working as antioxidants in the body, effectively recycling them and making them work over and over again before being disposed of by the body.
There have been many studies showing that Vitamin C supports and raises glutathione levels and activity. By the same token, when there is not enough glutathione, Vitamin C is far less effective and rapidly depleted.
So we can see why they go hand in hand with one another. There is much controversy over the adequate dose of Vitamin C needed . If glutathione levels are adequate, than 200-1,000 mg/day should be sufficient.
Vitamin E: This is a fat-soluble vitamin that comes in a close second as the most popular supplement in America today. Besides its role as an antioxidant, Vitamin E has been shown to be helpful in many areas of disease prevention today. It also plays a role in detoxification.
It also plays an important role in the glutathione enzyme system which, like Vitamin C , keeps the other antioxidants in their reduced state so they can keep doing their job mopping up free radicals.
There are two forms of Vitamin E, natural and synthetic. The natural form is denoted by d, as in d-alpha tocopherol, and the synthetic form as dl, as in dl-alpha tocopherol. The natural forms are better for you. Vitamin E can be found in avocado, nuts, seeds, spinach, vegetable oils, wheat germ, milk, asparagus, and eggs.
The recommended daily dosage for Vitamin E ranges from 25-50 IU/day, although most of us would probably experience more benefit of higher doses of 100-1200IU/day. So Vitamin E can be very helpful in finding out how to raise glutathione in your cells.
If a person has adequate levels of glutathione, 400 IU/day should be sufficient. If excessively consumed, it can provoke gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and neurological side-effects, so caution should be exercised.
How To Raise Glutathione With Other Micronutrients: Magnesium, Vanadium, and Zinc:
Magnesium deficiency can lead to the impairment of an important glutathione enzyme needed for glutathione production.
Vanadium is a trace element that depends on glutathione to remain in a reduced state to increase it's bioavailabiity. In high doses, Vanadium is toxic and may have an adverse effect on glutathione production.
Zinc deficiency also reduces glutathione concentration, especially in red blood cells. Zinc also is toxic in higher levels, and may also reduce glutathione if it is over-consumed.
A high quality multiple vitamin and mineral supplement that supplies the optimal amounts of these co-factors and micronutrients should be taken along with your glutathione enhancer for best results in how to raise glutathione.
There is a very good page on Wikipedia that refers to three ways of supplementing with glutathione. It notes that oral glutathione is not absorbed, but that glutathione may be raised with the precursors SAM-E, N-acetyl-cysteine or NAC, Alpha lipoic acid, melatonin, and the undenatured whey protein Immunocal. Of these, the two most thoroughly studied ways of raising glutathione are with N-acetyl-cysteine and Immunocal. For the complete reference, see the "Supplementation" section of this
page here. (this link opens in a new window)
Dr. Mark Hyman, author of The UltraMind Solution, created an excellent video about the role of glutathione and how to raise glutathione. You can view this by clicking the arrow below:
In conclusion, to learn how to raise glutathione, cysteine is the amino acid that is lacking the most. But it must be in a form that can survive the trip from our mouth to our cells, which free cysteine does not do well. Also, eating glutathione is ineffective in showing us how to raise glutathione levels.
Several drugs and natural products can show us how to raise glutathione quite efficiently. NAC or N-acetyl-cysteine is a powerful drug used in critical care, toxicology, and pulmonary medicine. It is well researched and clinically proven to be valuable in learning how to raise glutathione levels.
Many natural products either support or directly show us how to raise glutathione levels. Undenatured whey protein as in Immunocal is a very effective method, and by delivering bonded cysteine to the cells safely, the way our body was designed to raise it, is an excellent way to deliver the necessary amino acids to the cell for glutathione production. Because of this, Immunocal is the best way to know how to raise glutathione in your cells. This is the method we use to raise our glutathione every day!
Dr. Jimmy Gutman is the world's most published author on the subject of glutathione. His current bestseller, referenced above, is entitled "Glutathione - Your Key To Health."
You can get your very own copy of this bestseller here.