Glutathione or GSH, is the most powerful naturally occurring antioxidant in all human cells.
What is an Antioxidant, Free Radicals, and Oxidative Stress?
An antioxidant is a molecule that reduces oxidative stress on a cellular level by combating free radicals and preventing them from stealing electrons and causing damage to proteins, DNA, and cell membranes, a process commonly known as oxidation.
In short, antioxidants keep free radicals from running wild, and glutathione levels are a determining factor in keeping free radicals in check and detoxification. Without either of these processes functioning smoothly, free radicals cause detrimental damage to cells, our bodies do not detoxify and naturally, the onset of chronic disease begins.
Glutathione (GSH) is an important antioxidant in plants, animals, fungi, and some bacteria and archaea, preventing damage to important cellular components caused by reactive oxygen species such as free radicals, peroxides, lipid peroxides, and heavy metals. It is a tripeptide with a gamma peptide linkage between the carboxyl group of the glutamate side-chain and the amine group of cysteine (which is attached by a normal peptide linkage to a glycine).
Thiol groups are reducing agents, existing at a concentration around 5 mM in animal cells. Glutathione reduces disulfide bonds formed within cytoplasmic proteins to cysteines by serving as an electron donor. In the process, glutathione is converted to its oxidized form, glutathione disulfide (GSSG), also called
L-glutathione. Once oxidized, glutathione can be reduced back by glutathione reductase, using NADPH as an electron donor. The ratio of reduced glutathione to oxidized glutathione within cells is often used as a measure of cellular toxicity.
“Antioxidant,” is a 2019 buzzword that we know links to being good for us, but not many of us fully understand what antioxidants are and why they are beneficial to our health.
From IG-worthy acai bowls to energizing and colorful natural juices, we habitually seek our antioxidants from food sources. However, the most potent antioxidant, termed “ The Superhero of Antioxidant s” by Dr. Oz, is actually produced by our own bodies and is made from three essential amino acids: glutamate, cysteine, and glycine.
Also deemed “The Mother of Antioxidants,” glutathione (GSH) is not only critical to preventing disease but to detoxification and overall healthy immune function.