Glutathione: The Master Antioxidant

If you want to slow down the aging process and keep your body functional at optimal health, you need to protect the mitochondria and cells from free radicals. Cells have evolved a defense system to protect against damage caused by free radicals. It consists of antioxidants and enzymes that can neutralize oxygen-based free radicals. One of the key substances in cellular protection is glutathione. Glutathione is a tripeptide, a molecule composed of three amino acids, and is the most abundant and important antioxidant protective system in our cells. Critical in the cell's defense against inflammation-generating free radicals and oxidative stress, glutathione comes to the rescue whenever a cell is under severe oxidative stress, as an excess of free radicals is called. The mitochondria depend upon cellular glutathione for protection. Produced in the cytosol, the watery portion of the cell, this glutathione must be transferred into the mitochondria to defend against the free radicals, also known as reactive oxygen species, or ROSs. It is difficult to overstate the importance of glutathione as the body's primary antioxidant defense system.

Scientists and physicians, myself included, have spent many years researching methods to increase glutathione within the mitochondria. Elevating glutathione levels and other substances that protect against free-radical damage in the mitochondria is the cornerstone of our quest to look and feel forever young.

One of the greatest challenges in working with glutathione is the fact that glutathione supplementation has not been viable. This is because oral ingestion of supplemental glutathione is rapidly digested by the gastrointestinal system. Fortunately, we are finding ways to circumvent this problem. One such method is the focal point of my own research: the development of a phospholipid carrier system that is capable of transferring glutathione into the cells. This transdermal delivery system allows the mitochondria to receive increased levels of this protective tripeptide. When applied to the skin, glutathione, via the phospholipid carrier, is able to penetrate various levels, reaching into the deep dermis and finally into the subdermal microvasculature, or the small blood vessels under the skin. From this point, glutathione begins circulating into our blood, providing protective glutathione molecules to all organ systems and cells. When delivered in this form, the glutathione is able to enter the cells and provide elevated levels for increased protection. Once in the cell, the higher levels of glutathione are available to the mitochondria, where they help to maintain health and prevent disease.