Glutathione: The Ultimate Antioxidant Powerhouse for Supercharging Your Health

by | Jul 18, 2023

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In this episode of The Modern Vital Podcast, Dr. Ben Reebs discusses the role of glutathione as the body’s master antioxidant and its various forms. Glutathione is known for its ability to neutralize harmful free radicals and regenerate other antioxidants in the body, reducing oxidative damage and contributing to overall cellular protection. The mitochondria, where oxygen is consumed the most, generate reactive oxygen species (ROS), and glutathione plays a crucial role in protecting and neutralizing them. The podcast explores different forms of glutathione, highlighting the benefits of acetylglutathione, which is metabolically efficient and can cross the blood-brain barrier.

The episode emphasizes three main roles of glutathione in the body. Firstly, it reduces oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals and regenerating antioxidants. Secondly, it enhances metabolic detoxification by binding to harmful substances and making them more easily excreted. Glutathione also supports the immune system by regulating immune cell function, preventing excessive cell death, and modulating the production of proinflammatory cytokines. The episode also mentions that N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is a precursor to glutathione but warns about potential oxidative stress caused by certain genetic variants when excessively converting NAC. It concludes by recommending the acetylglutathione supplement from Modern Vital for detoxification support and improved antioxidant status.

Listeners are encouraged to reach out with questions, suggestions, or feedback, and to join the next episode of The Modern Vital Podcast for more insights into health and well-being.

If you’re looking to dive deeper into understanding the intricacies of chronic disease and its impact on your overall well-being, consider checking out Dr. Reebs’ book, “The Serpent & The Butterfly: The Seven Laws of Healing.” In this book, he discusses thyroid health and much more to help you on your journey to optimal wellness. Click here to purchase your copy:

Additionally, if you’re interested in a supplement designed to directly support your digestion, we recommend trying Digest: Gentian & Skullcap Capsules. These capsules are formulated with natural ingredients that can help improve and support overall digestive health. To learn more and purchase, visit:

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Complete Transcript of Episode 13246480

On today’s episode of The Modern Vital Podcast, we’re going to discuss the role of glutathione and the best form to take it in. 

Our Modern Vital fact of the day is that glutathione not only acts as an antioxidant, in fact, it is known as the body’s master antioxidant, but it also has the unique ability to regenerate and recycle other antioxidants in the body. We know that antioxidants work to neutralize harmful free radicals. These are unstable, uncharged molecules with an unpaired electron that damage our cells and contribute to various chronic health issues, not to mention low level background inflammation and oxidative stress. 

An interesting fact is that when an antioxidant such as selenium or vitamin C neutralizes a free radical, it actually becomes oxidized itself. Basically, the antioxidant has lost an electron or two. That’s what oxidation means, to lose an electron. However, glutathione, which is present in the fluid of our cells called the cytosol, and in their little organs called organelles, can come along and regenerate these oxidized antioxidants. 

Let me just repeat that. Glutathione can come along, save the day, and regenerate oxidized antioxidants, bringing them back to active or potent antioxidant form by adding back electrons to their structure. 

In other words, glutathione basically acts to recycle our antioxidants so that they can keep going and keep doing the important work that they’re doing in our bodies. Glutathione helps to optimize the activity and of course, the longevity of other antioxidants, contributing to overall cellular protection and reducing oxidative damage.

This is technically why glutathione is the master antioxidant and sets up nicely for our topic glutathione. Now, we don’t have time to get into all the details, which would take literally hours, if not days. 

But here is one important question. Where is oxygen consumed the most inside of our cells? The answer in our mitochondria. And this means that a lot of what are called reactive oxygen species or ROS are being generated there in the mitochondria. In fact, most of these ROS originate from what’s called the respiratory chain in the mitochondria which is where our stored macronutrients are being converted over to ATP to give us energy right in the factories of our cells.

Now, what this also means is that a lot of glutathione is in these areas to protect us and to gobble up all of those electrons and to neutralize them. And if we don’t have enough glutathione, well, we might end up with mitochondrial dysfunction and our inner machinery is going to start to go a little bit haywire. 

Now, obviously, glutathione is very popular these days as a supplement, and its cheapest, active form is called the reduced glutathione. But this kind is oxidized in our stomach, meaning that it’s basically not absorbed. 

And the liposomal form, or liposomal glutathione, is kind of all the rage, right? It’s the most popular, almost a cult-like phenomenon, and it’s a form of glutathione that’s encapsulated in a lipid molecule or fat. 

But guess what? It makes its way past the digestion. But there still metabolically are some issues with its transport into our cells across what is called the cell membrane. 

In fact, evidence seems to point to the fact that glutathione has to be broken into three bits and then metabolically reassembled on the other side when it’s in its liposomal form. And in some cases, or in many regards, this is metabolically inefficient when compared to drumroll, enter S-acetyl glutathione. Now, this form does not oxidize in the stomach and is actually transported across the cell membrane fully intact. So it’s extremely and exquisitely metabolically efficient, and it also can cross the blood brain barrier. 

Now, in general, glutathione can do that. So you don’t have to be taking the S-Acetyl glutathione form. But there is evidence that more of this blood brain barrier crossing will occur when one is taking the S-Acetyl glutathione form. 

Now, our Modern Vital manufacturer…Modern Vital Supplements, is my company, which is monitored by the FDA, the manufacturer, that is…bought the rights to use their product. And they make this form of glutathione, S-acetyl glutathione. 

It’s actually right here, and you can actually purchase it on my website, So head on over there, check it out. S-Acetyl Glutathione from Modern Vital. 

Now, glutathione is a tripeptide, and it’s composed of three amino acids: glycine, glutamic acid, and cysteine. We mentioned that it is a reducing agent. What this means is that it can add electrons back to antioxidants, add oxygen back to antioxidants, and basically put them back into their active potent form. 

Now, in chemistry or biochemistry, there is oxidation and reduction. And reduction is the process we just mentioned, when oxygen molecules are added and electrons as well back to a substance. It’s a little bit counterintuitive because we’re using the word reduction, we think, to reduce, but we’re actually adding, we’re adding oxygen and thereby electrons back into a substance.

Oxidation is the opposite. Oxygen molecules or electrons are removed from a substance. So remember how we talked about how glutathione can come in and take an antioxidant back to its stable, original state, essentially recycling it? Well, glutathione accomplishes this by I know I’m a bit, a little bit repetitive here… by reducing the antioxidant that is, adding oxygen or electrons back to the antioxidant. And it’s almost like we just gave vitamin C its life back, right? Something like that. Really cool. 

Now, let’s talk about three main roles that glutathione has in the body. The first is in reducing oxidative stress. Glutathione does this by acting as an ROS scavenger. Basically, it neutralizes free radicals, scavenging them and donating electrons to them so that they can’t damage our cells any longer. This includes our DNA, proteins, lipids, any cellular component. 

And then it regenerates other antioxidants, which we already discussed, restoring them back to antioxidant form. This whole process also helps to maintain the body’s redox balance. Redox is basically reduction in oxidation, occurring in different biochemical equations or actions in our body. 

The second role of glutathione is in enhancing what is called metabolic detoxification. Now, our liver and other organs, too, are constantly working 24/7 to remove harmful substances from our bodies: toxins, drugs, pollutants, metabolic waste products. And glutathione can actually bind to these. It can form what are called conjugates with various reactive species or compounds and make them more water soluble so that they can be excreted in our bile, in our urine, et cetera. 

And glutathione can also bind to heavy metals like mercury, lead and arsenic, forming complexes that are then also more easily excreted. And they’re also less harmful in the body. 

Glutathione also plays a big role in supporting what is called Phase II detox, which we talked a little bit about in an earlier episode. 

Now, the third role of glutathione is in regulating the immune system. And we know that many immune cells like T cells and B cells and macrophages generate ROS as part of their normal function in fighting off pathogens. 

So let’s say that COVID comes into my system, my immune system is responding, my innate immune system is the first responder. It’s that guard dog. Maybe my natural killer cells are going to town. Basically, this whole process where my immune system is kind of beginning to protect me and try to keep the COVID from infecting me, that’s going to generate free radicals and reactive oxygen species. And glutathione is going to kind of quench and quell that process so that the inflammation and oxidative stress generated from that process doesn’t cause damage to my body. 

Glutathione also is involved in the activation and regulation of immune cells, influencing their ability to mature and proliferate and differentiate. And natural killer cells, which we just mentioned, also called NK cells, one of my very favorite…they can have optimal function only when there’s enough glutathione on board. We talked about this a little bit already. Glutathione even helps to modulate the production of some proinflammatory cytokines, perhaps most famously like IL-one or interleukin-1 beta and tumor necrosis factor alpha or TNF-alpha. 

Glutathione also prevents excessive cell death. We call this apoptosis. 

Suboptimal levels of glutathione are also associated with neurodegeneration and mitochondrial dysfunction and even some forms of cancer. 

Now, it’s well known that NAC, which is a pretty famous supplement, or N-acetyl cysteine, is a precursor to glutathione. It actually provides many of the building blocks, the three amino acids we mentioned earlier: glutamic acids, cysteine and glycine. It’s much less expensive than glutathione. However interestingly, certain SNPs or genetic mutations or variants I should say, in the body can actually overly convert NAC, particularly cysteine, in the NAC, into what are called reactive nitrogen species, and this can cause oxidative stress in our bodies. So depending on what SNP or variant you might have, you need to be careful about how much NAC you take. And I would recommend you consider doing genetic testing to check. There are various cofactors also required during the production of glutathione, and some of the most famous ones are vitamin B2 or riboflavin, vitamin B6 or pyridoxine, and selenium, and magnesium. 

And then there are a couple of other nutrients that have been shown to increase the production of glutathione, like SAMe and also vitamin A. There’s many more, but I just wanted to touch a little bit on those. So that’s a wrap on glutathione. 

So head on over to the Modern Vital Store at and try out our S-acetyl glutathione, which I mentioned to support detoxification and bolster your antioxidant status. 

And that concludes today’s episode of The Modern Vital Podcast. We would love to hear from you. We value your feedback. If you have any questions or concerns or suggestions, please reach out to me at And also please leave us a review. If you enjoyed this episode on Spotify or Apple, we look forward to having you join us next week for another exciting episode of The Modern Vital Podcast. 


About Me

Dr. Ben Reebs, ND, is an award-winning, naturopathic physician with a focus in environmental medicine, which looks at how environmental factors can cause chronic disease. He specializes in chronic infections, autoimmune disease, and digestive health.

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