Glutathione (GSH) is not technically an amino acid, but due to its close relationship it is normally grouped with the amino acids. Most glutathione is found in the liver where it detoxifies many harmful compounds to be excreted through the bile. Some glutathione is released directly by the liver into the bloodstream where it helps maintain the strength of your red blood cells and also protecting your white blood cells. Glutathione can also be found in the lungs and in your body's intestinal tract system. It is required for carbohydrate metabolism.
Glutathione protects cells in several ways. It neutralizes oxygen molecules before they can harm cells. Together with selenium, it forms the enzyme glutathione peroxidase, which neutralizes hydrogen peroxide. It is also a component of another antioxidant enzyme, glutathione-S-transferase, which is a broad-spectrum liver-detoxifying enzyme.
Glutathione protects not only individual cells but also the tissues of the arteries, brain, heart, immune cells, kidneys, lenses of the eyes, liver, lungs, and skin against oxidant damage. The production of glutathione by the body can be boosted by taking supplemental N-acetylcysteine or L-cysteine plus L-methionine. Studies suggest this may be a better way of raising glutathione levels than taking glutathione itself.
Oral use of glutathione as a nutritional supplement has been explicitly mentioned by leading authorities on glutathione. If dietary glutathione is insufficient, oxidative stress, toxicity, and cell damage may occur to mucocal cells in the small intestine.
Glutathione deficiency may be indicated by coordination problems, mental disorders, tremors, twitching, nervous system disorders, and difficulty balancing.