Glutathione is the body’s master antioxidant involved in protecting cells and tissues from oxidants and a large variety of other toxins and insults. Debate over whether orally administered glutathione could be effective at enhancing glutathione levels in cells and tissues has simmered for years. Now, a Penn State College of Medicine study shows oral supplementation is effective in increasing the body’s stores of this vital nutrient.
The study of 54 healthy adults revealed that glutathione (GSH) levels of those taking 1,000 mg of Setria® Glutathione a day for six months increased 30 percent to 35 percent in many compartments including red blood cells, lymphocytes and plasma, and of those taking 250 mg of Setria Glutathione increased in whole blood. And as glutathione stores increased in the high-dose group, so did the function of natural killer (NK) cells, a marker for increased immune defense, said John P. Richie, Jr., Ph.D., professor of Public Health Sciences and Pharmacology at Penn State College of Medicine.
“A battery of immune function markers was examined after three months of glutathione supplementation and NK cytotoxicity was enhanced more than twofold for participants taking 1,000 mg daily doses,” Dr. Richie said. “We believe GSH supplementation may represent an effective intervention to enhance immune function.”
There is a school of thought that contends that glutathione is broken down in the stomach and intestine and effective increases of GSH must come via intravenous administration. However, previous animal studies showed that orally administered glutathione is bioavailable and will enhance tissue GSH levels, Dr. Richie said.
“Our research showed that in most cases increases were dose and time dependent, and levels returned to baseline after a one-month washout,” he said. “By taking daily GSH supplements, we believe efficacious levels will persist, and that oral intake is an effective means of chronically enhancing the body’s stores.”
Dr. Richie presented the study findings – “Enhanced Glutathione Levels in Blood and Buccal Cells by Oral Glutathione Supplementation” – at the Experimental Biology 2013 conference in Boston on April 22. The study was a joint effort of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Health Sciences, the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, and the Penn State College of Medicine.