Glutathione and Energy Levels
For many people, energy is important. We all need to be energized sufficiently in order to carry out daily tasks without undue fatigue. However, a basic understanding of energy on the molecular level will help anyone interested in improving energy levels. Though many, many processes in the body contribute to your energy reserves, one particular molecule that may be unfamiliar to some people is glutathione.
Glutathione is an antioxidant that is endogenous, meaning it is produced within the body. It's a tripeptide, which mean it's made of three amino acids: cysteine, glycine, and glutamate. Its antioxidant powers are enough to get many people interested: antioxidants, after all, help to remove free radicals, thus protecting the body from the damaging effects of radiation that we encounter in our day-to-day lives. It also can help protect you from chemicals and pollutants like pesticides.
Of all the antioxidants, however, glutathione may be one of the most important. It's known as the "master antioxidant" because it's found in every cell and can coordinate the activity of other antioxidants in the cells. While coordinating Vitamin C, Vitamin E, CoQ10, and other antioxidants, it also removes cellular toxins, thus increasing cell efficiency and therefore your sense of well-being. Glutathione is also known for its ability to boost the immune system. This ability, along with its effectiveness as an antioxidant, helps to shield you against many of the adverse physical and mental effects of aging.
As noted earlier, the fact that glutathione is endogenous indicates that it's produced within the body, But synthesis of macromolecules like glutathione requires energy, and in this case, the energy required is adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. ATP provides cellular energy, and much of it is synthesized in mitochondria. When glutathione is low, it's generally a good indicator that cellular ATP is low, too. Therefore, low levels of glutathione will often correlate with low energy levels. One study of egg cells from pigs indicated that the levels of ATP in the cells did not seem to correlate to developmental potential, but low levels of one form of glutathione in egg cells seemed partially responsible for low developmental potential. Cells need energy to develop, and glutathione is important in cellular energy.
When many people hear the relationship between glutathione and energy, they're often tempted to rush out and buy a glutathione supplement right away. However, studies on these supplements have indicated that they tend to be poorly absorbed by the body. Even if they are absorbed, the addition of synthetic glutathione will signal to the body that it no longer needs to synthesize its own glutathione, and supplement-takers may actually become dependent on the supplements.
This is far from ideal for anyone, so what are some healthy and effective ways to naturally (and more effectively) boost your glutathione? There are several foods that work wonders at improving glutathione (and also energy), but preparation matters. Fresh vegetables are an excellent glutathione boost, but as soon as you cook them, their benefits (at least in terms of glutathione) are approximately nothing. Fresh veggies, though, are great for boosting glutathione. Some work better than others, though: the highest levels tend to be found in spinach, potatoes, asparagus, okra, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, avocado, and walnuts.
Another set of great glutathione sources is that of raw meat and dairy products. However, the issue here is that it's generally safer to cook meat, and much of the dairy products available for purchase are pasteurized. The pasteurization process takes away just about all glutathione available in milk.
If you're looking for the most bang for your buck in terms of glutathione synthesis, though, whey protein is your best bet. Quality whey protein that is cold-pressed, contains no sugar, and comes from grass-fed cows is the best. The reason whey protein is so effective is that it contains all amino-acid precursors for glutathione synthesis (cysteine, glutamate, and glycine), as well as glutamylcysteine, a residue of cysteine that is especially efficient at converting to glutathione in vivo.
There are some supplements that can boost glutathione as well. For instance, some evidence shows that supplementing with alpha lipoic acid can help to regenerate glutathione. You can find alpha lipoic acid in red meats and organ meats if you prefer to get it from your diet. Vitamin D has also been shown to help boost glutathione levels, and it's important for many aspects of general health, including supporting bone density.
Though it takes a smorgasbord of molecules to effectively power the body, knowledge of glutathione and its importance is just one more useful item in the toolkits of those who want to get and stay healthy. When you stay aware of your glutathione intake, consume quality whole foods, and drink high-quality whey protein, you'll be helping your body to continually synthesize glutathione. Your cells will thank you, and your body will reward you with more energy, a stronger immune system, and an improved sense of well-being.