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Glutathione is best made by the body

Suzy Cohen

Dear Pharmacist

9:46 AM EST, November 16, 2012

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Dear Pharmacist: I recently read a magazine article that discussed the health benefits of glutathione. Do you recommend this supplement for everyone? — L.S., Orlando

Dear L.S.: Glutathione is fantastic for the human body. It supports liver function, boosts your immune system, and helps cleanse your system by grabbing heavy metals, like mercury and other poisons. Because it's an antioxidant, it can neutralize oxidative damage from free radicals.

But to answer your question, glutathione is less effective than other options, in terms of raising blood levels. The gut does not absorb glutathione well. It is a nutrient best made inside our cells. All of our organs contain cells that can cook up the recipe of glutathione using three natural amino acids: Glycine, glutamate and cystine. To make it yourself, you could eat more foods containing these precursor amino acids, or you could pay for the direct injection, given by IV in 5 or 10 minutes. If you're chronically ill, this would have a huge effect in your ability to clear toxins.

However, if working it into your diet is more appealing to you, there is quite a variety of food that may help: avocados, asparagus, garlic, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, milk thistle and unprocessed meats. If you decide that oral supplementation of glutathione is the best choice, I recommend Liposomal Glutathione by Empirical Labs, or S-Acetyl Glutathione by Xymogen. Both products can be ordered by a physician. You can also buy a high-quality whey protein supplement at any health food store, but make sure you're not allergic to dairy components.

If you have cancer, take immunosuppressive drugs, or if you've had an organ transplant, I would avoid glutathione supplementation unless your doctor advises it. Studies are inconclusive as to whether it is helpful for every disease and disorder. Finally, acetaminophen is a drug mugger of this nutrient, so you need to restore levels if you take that drug.

This is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition. Go to SuzyCohen.com.