Glutathione - Essential for Immune Function 

There are times that people need extra protection for their immune systems and glutathione is considered one of the most important antioxidants in the body essential for defense. 

There is a hypothesis that glutathione deficiency is the most likely explanation for the downward path of physiological harm to the body when it is under attack and immune function diminishes (Polonikov A, 2020). 

Glutathione is considered the “ …the most abundant molecular weight antioxidant that plays a crucial role in antioxidant defense against oxidative damage of cells from ROS and is also involved in the regulation of various metabolic pathways essential for whole body homeostasis” (Polonikov A, 2020). 

Glutathione is a compound manufactured in the body, made up of 3 amino acid building blocks of protein, cysteine, glycine, and glutamate. 

Glutathione plays a critical role in detoxification of foreign substances that enter the body or endogenously (already exists internally). It is also involved in regenerating vitamin C and E, protein folding, managing the function of the mitochondria within cells. Also, it provides an antiviral defense, control of cellular multiplication and immune response (Forman HJ et al, 2009). Both the immune system and detoxification system of the body are not able to function properly without glutathione. Therefore, it is currently under investigation to help individuals stay alive during difficult physiological breakdowns. 

Glutathione helps strengthen the immune system in two ways. First, it plays an essential role in the function of T-cell lymphocytes (white blood cells), soldiers on the frontline of the immune system, by increasing their numbers. Second, it has been shown that glutathione stimulates natural killer cell production and activity. Therefore it promotes immune cells and has an antioxidant function. 

Lymphocytes (while blood cells) help the immune system by having balanced glutathione levels. 

Lymphocytes are important since they provide an immune response to fight off harmful agents. It has been noted that when there are mild fluctuations in glutathione levels within cells, there is an extreme effect on the function of lymphocytes. 

The innate immune response is involved with an inflammatory response, which can affect the respiratory system. There is animal research that has demonstrated that glutathione and its precursors help provide an inflammatory response and have a protective effect on the lungs. (Ghezzi P, 2011). 

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is derived from the amino acid L-cysteine and is a precursor to glutathione and has been used for the respiratory tract to help increase glutathione cellularly, normalize mucus levels and aid the inflammatory response. There have been 2 human, randomized placebo controlled studies that have demonstrated that NAC helped in immune system problems. NAC helped the body restore natural killer cell activity (Dröge W, Breitkreutz R, 2000). 

As with any dietary supplements, one should check with their health care provider if they have any health conditions and or are taking prescription medication. 

In summary, there are times when extra protection for the immune system is needed and glutathione is considered one of the most important compounds in the body. It is believed that glutathione deficiency may be the cause for the downward path of body functions when the immune system is under attack. There is research that shows that glutathione and its precursors such as NAC help provide an inflammatory response and protective effect on the lungs. 

This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. It is not for advertising purposes. 

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