Glutathione is an extremely potent anti oxidant that is present in the body and manufactured when the amino acids cysteine, glycine and glutamine are consumed.
It is one of the body’s most powerful anti oxidants and is it is used to treat patients in medical settings for a number if conditions. For instance, Glutathione is used to treat the radiation present in the body after chemotherapy which has resulted in patient’s recovery from the treatments. This is only one of the medical uses for Glutathione and it is used to aid in the treatment or treat several other conditions as well. The fact that an anti oxidant is used in a medical setting should establish how powerful Glutathione is, but can it help with performance in otherwise healthy people?
Oxidative Stress when Working Out
High intensity exercise and endurance training has a number of health benefits not least of which is the fact that people who regularly train are at lower risk for heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
On the other hand, it is well known that high intensity exercise and endurance training increases free radical production in the human body.
This may explain why people who train frequently sometimes experience the effects of “over-training” which slows progress and can even make you weaker for a time or reduce a person’s immune system for a short time.
Anti Oxidants Combat Oxidative Stress
While the reason for overtraining may vary, one thing that we know for certain is that anti oxidants fight free radicals aka oxidative stress.
Glutathione contains sulphur which sticks to free radicals and then is later eliminated from the body through waste or bile.
Another interesting consideration is that when free radicals are high in the body usually Glutathione levels are low at the same time. This is also true for people who are sick or suffer from chronic illness.
There are thousands of studies conducted focusing on Glutathione for medical purposes but very few in regards to athletic performance.
There was one study however, published by the National Library of Medicine, that discusses a product that contained Glutathione precursors and their effect on performance.
The study found that the supplement group showed performance improvements versus a placebo group over a three month trial period.
As we discussed previously an increase in free radicals through environmental factors such as smog or pollutants, alcohol, eating processed foods, radiation, smoking or through an illness of some sort will reduce your natural Glutathione levels as your body fights these toxins.
Another issue is that there are genes involved in metabolizing Glutathione that must be healthy and productive in order to maximize production of the anti oxidant.
According to Dr. Hyman, GTSM1, one of the genes involved in processing Glutathione, is not functioning at an optimal level in many people.
Another issue is there are a number of people who suffer from digestive issues which may hamper the ability to process the precursors to Glutathione. This may hold true for people taking acid blockers for ulcers or heartburn as well, reducing stomach acid is known to slow or obstruct the ability to absorb several nutrients, including vitamin B12.
There are limited studies available regarding Glutahione as a performance enhancer but in the study that is available there was an increase in performance for the people taking Glutathione precursors.
Furthermore, it is known that intense exercise increases the number of free radicals in the body so it stands to reason that having sufficient anti oxidant defence would improve recovery which then allows the body to recover from intense exercise.
Finally, some doctors believe that many are not capable of keeping up with Glutathione production therefore further supplementation may be required.
Glutathione shots or consuming the precursors may be the most effective method of increasing the Glutathione available in the body. Glutathione orally consumed as a standalone supplement is not an effective method due to the fact that the body has a difficult time absorbing Glutathione supplemented in this manner.