GSH (GLUTATHIONE) COMPLEX-Page 2
© Dr. Deborah Baker 2006-2012
I think to understand how glutathione works so hard and well for us..we need to understand the balance in the body...how it strives to attain a state of "homeostasis" where all functions from the body as a whole..right down to the most sub-atomic energetic level within each cell is in harmony and purring along at optimum.
Let's talk about antioxidants and free radicals, etc for a bit. I believe most people have heard the terms "antioxidants"..and know they are good for us..and we should have a good supply of them...but do you know why??? Probably not.
Oxidation is a common everyday occurrence..like the rusting of a hammer left out in the rain and weather, or the lightning of paint or stain on your house over time. Although oxygen is life giving to us...it also has another side which is its "killing" side.
Let's step back a bit. You need energy to perform all the functions of life...breathing, heartbeat, digestion to break down foods into their basic units to convert to energy and oxygen. When you eat, and digest..these "units" go through an incredibly number of steps or pathways to become your ultimate energy molecule - ATP (adenosinetriphosphate).
Around 95% of the oxygen you breathe in or is released by your metabolism goes to the mitochondria or powerhouses in your cells...but some 3-5% escapes and become "free radicals". These are single electrons...having very high energy, are lightning fast and bounce around off other cells and structures causing havoc.
Essentially in nature, electrons need to have their "balance" too. They live in harmony when they live in pairs..and they constantly seek this existence. Therefore when they are solitary....they zip around..looking for and stealing electrons indiscriminatly from any other molecule or structure it can find, to bring itself back to balance.
Just visualize these free radicals careening off your cells' components and walls..literally "burning" them..changing the structures' chemistry..and creating even MORE free radicals!
Picture this...if you had a line-up of people, each with an apple in their hand..the only food they had and someone came to the top of the line and stole the first person's (let's call him Jones) apple, he'd then turn and steal from Smith, who'd then turn and steal from Brown, who'd then turn and steal from Green, etc, etc, all the way down the line. What we need is a farmer ( an antioxidant) who comes and places an apple in the one empty hand to stop the cascade of events and bring everything back to harmony.
That is essentially what is going on in free radical propagation and damage..a process called "Oxidation" and why we need "Antioxidants" or those substances which stop the madness.
When this type of damage occurs in your DNA for example, the end result is often mutations or serious changes in the DNA which replicate themselves to become cancer, possibly. Again this emphasizes the need for antioxidants.
Free radicals even damage cellular proteins..many of which are enzymes which control your body's functions..to allow it to perform at its best..and now these enzymes becomes either weakened or destroyed altogether...and because of this...if this process is allowed to carry on for a long time...chronic diseases of aging set in....That's what's going on.
GSH, like all proteins, consists of amino acids. It is a tripeptide (mixture of three amino acids) of glycine, glutamate (glutamic acid) and cysteine. Cysteine is a sulfur-containing amino acid is the "rate-limiting" amino acid for the production of glutathione..its abundance or deficit ...limits the body’s ability to produce GSH. Its ability to protect the body comes from the fact that the sulfur (or thiol) group can donate electrons to quench the free radical craziness described above.
GSH is being depleted from our bodies on a daily basis. Oxidative stress originating from outside the body is a feature of life in the modern world. First, the tens of thousands of confirmed toxic substances in our external environment are invariably sources of free radicals or related oxidants. Add to this substantial burden of the many negative aspects of the modern Westernized lifestyle and a picture emerges of the human organism burdened by chronic stress, disease and increased aging threatening a shorter lifespan than might otherwise be possible.
Some of the most important of the exogenous (outside the body) oxidative stressors include cigarette smoking, pharmaceuticals, hydrocarbons, strenuous exercise, dietary deficiency, ionizing radiation, tissue injury, iron overload, bacterial and viral infections and alcohol intake. The human body faces constant attack of free radicals through the simple breathing process due to the pollutants in the air we breath.
Scientists now believe that if there is any less than 70% of the maximum of glutathione in our cells...then cellular dysfunction starts and if not corrected..will ultimately result in disease.
1. Kosower NS, Kosower EM. The glutathione
status of cells. Intl Rev Cytol 1978;54:109-157.
For instance...it has been documented that thos people who are HIV positive can delay or prevent the AIDS Related Complex (ARC) from evolving by maintaining high levels of intracellular glutathione (in its active "reduced" form).
Look MP, Rockstroh JK, Rao GS, et al.
Serum selenium, plasma glutathione (GSH) and erythrocyte glutathione
peroxidase (GSH-Px)-levels in asymptomatic
our reliance on oxygen, humans cannot escape this ongoing oxidative
challenge. It may be the ultimate challenge of being alive. An
ever more impressive body of evidence indicates that the cumulative
damaging effects of oxygen radicals and other oxidants are principal
contributors to degenerative diseases and to the progressive loss
of organ functions that we recognize as aging. GSH has
five major functions:
When the immune system responds to an invader, it releases a blitz of free radicals to aid in the offensive agent's demise. This could create damage to local tissue and your body, but GSH rallies around the area to quench the free radicals that are produced in excess.
The research on glutatione is enormous. PubMed came up with over 73,000 papers...Click on the PubMed logo to see them or go and do your own search.
Try putting in glutathione + any issue you are personally concerned with, such as chronic fatigue syndrome and you will receive research abstracts on that subject.
Glutationone is made up of three amino acids, glycine, glutamic acid and cysteine, as mentioned previously. Each cell produces its own GSH according to need..within itself. The determining factor as to how much it can make to ultimately keep levels up to the needed 70% in the active form...is determined by the availability of the amino acid cysteine. The production of cysteine becomes less and less efficient as we get older..going into a steady decline by around age 55 onward. This is just at a time when its most needed to protect our brains and neurological system from syndromes such as Alzheimer's Disease and dementia, which are now becoming more and more common.
Before we go further, let me explain "active" form (technically called the "reduced" form) and "inactive" (technically called the "oxidized" form) forms of glutathione. The active form is the one that can perform all the functions listed above..act as a powerful antioxidant, work to combat diseases of aging and a potent player in detoxification. It is often shown in written works as "GSH".
The inactive form is present when GSH has done its work..donating electrons and needs to regenerate itself..which it can do. Its usually shown as GSSG (lacking the H..because it gave it away to stabilize some other molecule).
In a healthy situation, the percentage of GSH is about 90%..with only 10% of glutathione existing as GSSG. When these ratios change..and there is more and more GSSG present, that is when the cell becomes sick, and is vulnerable to attack from toxins and microbes. If GSH falls below 70%...the cells/organ/person is in HUGE trouble!
There is one proviso to this situation. If GSH is "used" to clear up a situation from our own metabolism, then it can regenerate itself just fine. HOWEVER...if its used to combat "xenobiotics" or toxins from the outside of our bodies, such as chemicals, heavy metals, toxins, etc., then it CANNOT regenerate. It must be replaced by us...through supplementation or food sources.
I can't stress enough that the assault on our bodies with respect to environmental toxins, chemicals etc. in our food and drink is resulting in an overwhelming need to keep GSH levels higher than ever before!
This is where we run into trouble today...as our food is not replenishing us the way it should and supplementing for glutathione is tricky...
Unless people eat a lot of live fruits and vegetables, their diets are not going to be high in GSH or its precursors. The average North American diet is sadly low in these elements. Some of the best choices are: avocado, watermelon, asparagus, grapefruit, potato, acorn squash, strawberries, orange, tomato, cantaloupe, broccoli, okra, peach, zucchini, and spinach. Asparagus, avocado, and walnuts are particularly rich dietary sources of glutathione-promoting cysteine. Cysteine is also found in various levels in most high-protein foods including ricotta, cottage cheese, yogurt, pork, sausage meat, chicken, turkey, duck, wheat germ, granola, and oat flakes.
Exercise..although healthy, can lower GSH as the increased metabolism and oxygen intake does use up a fair amount of your cells' GSH.
The largest amount of GSH is found in the liver (highly active and the key to detoxification) the lung lining or epithelium..to combat toxins in air and the abundance of oxygen causes more free radical production....kidney..again detoxification and purification and the heart. The heart being a continuously active organ and its cells are jam packed with mitochondria..the organelles inside the cell which are responsible for energy production...and hence use a great deal of GSH. And lastly but far from least...the brain....highly active and free radical producing.
Supplementing with glutathione in capsules is the next best thing to useless you'll ever get. A complete waste of money.
It needs to be made within your cells and glutathione from capsules is mostly destroyed by the intestinal barrier, so is not absorbed in quantities that make much difference to intracellular levels.
Therefore, the proven, non-toxic and safe method to increase intracellular GSH is by utilizing the substrates which produced the glutamate-cysteine (glu-cys) residues in sufficient amounts to have an impact. This can be GSH Complex which supplies individual amino acids, which can then be used by your cells to make glutathione or more specifically, Glutaclear which gives the rate limiting cysteine and co-factors that are known to activate the glutathione-based enzymes needed to actually do the work, such as an active form of selenium to make glutathione peroxidase, the enzyme which is the true entity that latches on to many toxins we're trying to get rid of.
There is also an intricate biochemistry in our bodies which involves the use of a cycle called the 'Methylating Cycle' which when working properly can generate glutathione from elements in the body, that when not used, are in fact free-radical producing and toxic, in particular to our brains.
I'll be going into great detail on this in my upcoming book "Effects and Benefits of Glutathione" which will be available on the Kindle and other e-readers by August, 2012. Stay tuned for details.
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