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Glutathione May Boost Immune Function in Adults

Glutathione helps protect the body from damage by free radicals. While the body does produce it’s own glutathione, poor diet, pollution, toxins, medication, stress, aging and infections deplete glutathione levels. A recent study suggests that oral supplements of glutathione can increase glutathione levels and may help build a stronger immune system in adults.

Participants in the study included 54 healthy adults, 41 of whom were women, with a mean age of 46.6 years. Over the course of six months they participated in one of three interventions: placebo, 250 mg of glutathione, or 1,000 mg of glutathione every day.

At the conclusion of the study, both doses of glutathione resulted in higher blood levels of glutathione at the one, three, and six-month marks. At the six-month mark, the higher dose group saw mean glutathione levels increased by 30-35% in erythrocytes, plasma, and lymphocytes, as well as 260% in buccal cells. In the low dose group, there was a 17% increase in blood and 29% increase in erythrocytes.

Additionally, the high dose group had a two-fold increase in natural killer cell activity at the three-month mark. Natural killer cells are essential for a healthy immune system as they respond rapidly to and kill infected cells.

Researchers from Penn State University conducted the study. It was published on May 5, 2014, in the European Journal of Nutrition.

Previous research has shown that glutathione neutralizes free radicals, enhances the immune system and detoxifies the liver. It also protects cells from bacteria, viruses and toxins.

Foods rich in glutathione include asparagus, spinach, avocado, squash, melons, grapefruit and peaches. It is also found in meat sources of protein, whole wheat, oatmeal, bran flakes, popcorn, and whey protein. While eating a balanced diet is the best way to increase your glutathione intake, this study shows that taking oral glutathione supplements is also a viable option.

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