#118 | One Antioxidant to Rule Them All — Glutathione | Ross Pelton

Fullscript for WiseAthletes

Intense exercise takes a biochemical toll. Research has shown that intense activity results in decreased levels of glutathione, our body’s homemade master antioxidant. And, that happens even when you start the day with enough glutathione despite the naturally declining levels found in the older athlete.  Without sufficient glutathione, the oxidative stress associated with exercise can reduce athletic performance and delay recovery.   Heck, low glutathione can make you look and feel old.

Today we have invited Ross Pelton the Natural Pharmacist to educate us about Glutathione, the master antioxidant and a key biomarker of aging. Glutathione is made by the body to act as the master regulator of other antioxidants….when you have enough glutathione, your body can make or recycle all the antioxidants it needs. What’s more, low glutathione is a marker for aging and a higher likelihood of disease. The older we get, the less glutathione our bodies make, and the more glutathione our bodies need.  Glutathione IV drips are all the rage these days, but do we need it?

Ross is the Natural Pharmacist and his website, bio and blog are at He is passionate about life extension and anti-aging science and technology. He has written 12 books including “Rapamycin, mTOR, Autophagy & Treating mTOR Syndrome” and in 1999, he was named one of the Top 50 Most Influential Pharmacists in the U.S. by American Druggist magazine

The Critical Roles of Glutathione

  • Direct chemical neutralization of singlet oxygen, hydroxyl radicals, and superoxide radicals
  • Cofactor for several antioxidant enzymes
  • Regeneration of vitamins C and E
  • Neutralization of free radicals produced liver metabolism of chemical toxins
  • Transportation of mercury out of cells and the brain
  • Regulation of cellular proliferation and apoptosis (think: cancer)
  • Vital to mitochondrial function and maintenance of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)

A few of the benefits an athlete can expect from glutathione.

  • Improved Endurance and Performance — Glutathione has been shown to improve physical exercise endurance and increase energy
  • Reduced Muscle Soreness and Inflammation — Glutathione helps to rebuild damaged & tired muscles, so it can reduce the time in pain
  • Enhanced Recovery Time — It’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of soreness. Reduce your recovery time to accelerate your training progression
  • Energy Production — Glutathione is vital to the body’s ability to create energy as it is a key ingredient in the function of ATP, which is used by our bodies to create energy
  • Improved Immune System Function — A healthy and efficient immune system is key to athletic performance. If you’re feeling unwell, your perform will suffer

Considering how important glutathione is to health, researchers have looked for ways to increase intracellular and intramitochondrial levels. Here are the effective approaches:

  • Decrease the need for glutathione, which means decreasing toxic load (e.g., limit alcohol). The most obvious is limiting alcohol consumption.  Less obvious is decreasing exposure to persistent organic pollutants, the primary source of which are conventionally grown foods.  
  • Another strategy is to provide other antioxidants to decrease oxidative stress. A good example is α-lipoic acid, supplementation of which increases mitochondrial glutathione levels even though ALA is not used in the synthesis or recycling of glutathione.
  • Consuming glutathione does not work, but we can provide specific nutrients to promote glutathione production. Cysteine availability is the rate-limiting step in the de novo production of glutathione. Supplemental cysteine in the form of whey or N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is effective at raising levels. While there is substantial variation, 1000 mg/d of NAC will substantially increase glutathione in virtually all patients
  • Consuming certain probiotics that make glutathione in the gut is a new option. Lactobacillus fermentum ME3
  • Go to the doctor office for a weekly IV glutathione infusion (yuck).

Related episodes:

More Ross Pelton Info:

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Ross Pelton, R.Ph., Ph.D., CCN

Ross Pelton received his BS degree in pharmacy from the University of Wisconsin, has a Ph.D. in psychology and is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN). In October 1999, Ross was named one to the Top 50 Most Influential Pharmacists in America by American Druggist magazine for his work in natural medicine. Ross is nearly 80 and looks much younger.

The ever curious athlete who demands answers.
About the Author
Curious athlete who demands answers. Husband to Susan ( Father of 3 daughters. Athletic pursuits over time, in reverse order: cycling, skiing, mountaineering, rock climbing, triathlon, golf, tennis, football.

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