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L-Glutathione: The Body's Own Anti-Aging Factor
Theodore Hersh, MD, MACG
Professor of Medicine, Emeritus, Emory University
Presented at the American Academy of Anti-Aging,
Glutathione, a thiol tripeptide composed of glutamate, cysteine
and glycine, is present in most plants and animal tissues and is
the most important and ubiquitous low molecular weight compound.
Working intra and extra-cellularly in its reduced form, L-glutathione,
abbreviated as "GSH", is the body's key antioxidant and
protectant. GSH has multiple functions in disease prevention and
in detoxification of chemicals and drugs while its depletion is
associated with increased risks of toxicity and disease. GSH works
synergistically with the other cellular antioxidants to neutralize
and scavenge oxygen and other free radical species and thereby prevent
or diminish "oxidative stress".
There is widespread evidence from human and animal studies that
GSH deficiency in senescent subjects affects the aging process by
shortening life span. The converse is true: GSH repletion increases
longevity! Various clinical studies have documented that healthy
elderly subjects have lower GSH levels than their younger counterparts.
These findings suggest that the elderly are more readily afflicted
by free radical diseases, which themselves cause lower levels of
GSH in plasma and tissues. Scientific studies have shown that these
free radicals or toxic chemicals are the culprits of many geriatric
disorders such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, macular degeneration
and vascular diseases, including coronary heart disease and strokes.
Low GSH levels place healthy elderly subjects at a higher risk
of disease because of the decreased ability to deal with metabolic
and environmental conditions that increase toxic free radicals as
well as when the body has a decreased capacity to maintain its usual
defensive and detoxifying activities, where GSH is the prime defender.
Scientific studies have also shown in various other diseases with
a decreased life span, like diabetes, that there is cellular depletion
of GSH and higher levels of free radicals.
GSH is vital for cell survival and yet its concentrations readily
decrease with age. There has to be an easy way to correct GSH depletion,
stop the aging process and stay healthy! Nutrition plays a vital
role and influences the defensive immune system while poor nutrition
contributes to declining immunity and a higher incidence of infection
and chronic diseases in the elderly. An inability to neutralize
these free radical invaders further contributes to impaired body
defenses thereby accelerating both the aging process and many geriatric
Complementing a diet rich in GSH with dietary supplements and topical
antioxidants to elderly subjects and to those with various geriatric
free radical associated conditions may help both prevent or retard
these diseases and thereby promote a healthy, longer life span.
GSH is an adjunct to these therapies and truly a vital anti-aging
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