Glutathione for Longevity: What to Know About This "Master" Antioxidant

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Elaine Gavalas, ND, PhD

May 2, 2024

Your body is home to a “master” antioxidant called glutathione (pronounced gluta-thigh-own).

More powerful than other popular antioxidants like astaxanthin (found in krill oil), quercetin, and even vitamin C, glutathione is pivotal for healthy aging (1).

Think about it…

Without antioxidants, your oxidative stress would be through the roof.

A quick refresher: Oxidative stress occurs when there’s an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body. Free radicals are those frustratingly unstable molecules that damage your cells. So when there’s an imbalance, it can eventually lead to cellular damage, faster aging, and the development of age-related diseases like arthritis, high blood pressure, and Alzheimer’s.

Knowing this, it’s essential that we get plenty of antioxidants each day through whole foods and quality supplements.

In this blog, you’ll learn how and why glutathione may contribute to a longer, healthier lifespan (aka your healthspan). And as a registered dietitian with an MS in Nutrition, I’ll also share how you can effectively boost your body’s natural production of this ‘master’ antioxidant. Ready? Let’s dive in…

But First, What Is Glutathione?

Glutathione is known as the body's most powerful antioxidant. Classified as a “tripeptide,” this sulfur-containing molecule is composed of three different amino acids—cysteine, glutamine, and glycine.

In order for glutathione to keep doing its job (decreasing oxidative stress and fighting off inflammation) effectively, the human body needs between 500-1,000 mg of a glutathione supplement daily (1).

But, how can we be sure that this one antioxidant is the key to living longer?

For one, we know that glutathione is found in every human cell, but its natural production decreases with age (2). A small 2011 study confirmed this: When compared to younger individuals (30-40 years old), older adults (60-75 years old) had significantly lower levels of glycine, cysteine, and glutathione in their red blood cells (3). So much so that…

  • The amount of glycine was more than halved in the older subjects compared to the younger ones.
  • The production rate of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant, was lower in the older group.
  • And lastly, they discovered that older people had higher levels of oxidative stress and F2-isoprostanes, both of which are indicators of damage in the body.
Screenshot of the study "Deficient synthesis of glutathione underlies oxidative stress in aging and can be corrected by dietary cysteine and glycine supplementation"

With that said, low levels of glutathione have been linked to a higher risk of the following (2):

  • Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington’s disease
  • COPD and asthma
  • Chronic diseases related to aging 
  • Cardiovascular diseases (like hypertension)
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Liver diseases (non-alcoholic or alcoholic)
  • Diabetes

So what can you do to maintain healthy glutathione levels?

It all comes down to the supplement form of cysteine, NAC (N-acetylcysteine).

When you supplement with NAC, you’re giving your body a daily dose of glutathione—and in turn—a powerful dose of antioxidants to help decrease oxidative stress and fight off inflammation.

This is important because when glutathione levels are low, the body struggles to fight off oxidative stress, a phenomenon that can damage cells, proteins, and DNA and increase the speed of aging. (Although a natural part of life, it’s crucial that we keep oxidative stress at bay.)

Since the body can’t produce glutathione on its own, we need to get it through whole foods or quality supplements. Luckily, when you begin supplementation, it doesn’t take long to restore depleted glutathione.

In fact, in the previous study we mentioned, participants were able to get their glutathione levels back to a healthy level within just two weeks of NAC supplementation (3)!

When the body's glutathione levels are healthy and no longer depleted, numerous benefits can happen. We’ll take a closer look at these impressive benefits in the next section.

What Are the Benefits of Glutathione for Longevity?

Maintaining sufficient levels of glutathione is vital for healthy aging. Especially when it comes to improving the outcome of age-related chronic diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and neurological disease.

In fact, in a study of 87 women aged 60-103 in good health, most had higher-than-average glutathione levels, emphasizing the association between adequate glutathione and health in aging (4).

Due to its powerful antioxidant properties, glutathione is also essential for maintaining the health of our livers, especially during times of stress and disease caused by alcoholism or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Antioxidants like glutathione help the liver by protecting the cells from excessive cell death. 

NAC supplementation, leading to improved glutathione levels, has demonstrated a positive impact in several conditions, including (5):

  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Chronic inflammation from autoimmune disease
  • Cardiovascular disease (6)
  • Kidney disease
  • Cancer
  • Lung and pulmonary disease
  • Improved cognitive function in individuals with Alzheimer's (7)

What’s the Best Type of NAC Supplement to Take?

When it comes to supporting your body's glutathione levels for longevity, not all N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) supplements are created equal. The best type of NAC supplement is one that combines efficacy, quality, and safety in its formulation—and that's where Native NAC shines.

Native NAC is a powerhouse blend of 1,600 mg of NAC and 1,600 mg of L-Glycine. Both are essential amino acids required for the production of glutathione, making this supplement a potent force in maintaining healthy glutathione levels.

An overhead shot of a container of NativeNAC with a glass of water and a bowl of peaches next to it.

Replenish Your Glutathione: Your Body's Master Antioxidant

Native NAC combines a potent blend of amino acids into one convenient scoop to promote liver health, cellular repair, and natural detoxification.

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It also contains 500 mg of L-Taurine, an amino acid known for its antioxidant properties and ability to support cardiovascular health (8). This combination of ingredients makes Native NAC an all-around champion for promoting longevity and overall wellness.

One of the standout features of Native NAC is its commitment to natural ingredients. It has a natural peach ginger flavor and is sweetened with stevia and monk fruit extract, providing a pleasant taste without the need for artificial sweeteners or flavors. Plus, the addition of Pink Himalayan Sea Salt not only enhances the flavor but also provides essential minerals.

Quality and safety are paramount when choosing a supplement. Native NAC is proudly made in the USA in a cGMP-certified facility, ensuring that each batch meets strict quality control standards. Moreover, it’s third-party tested, providing an additional layer of assurance that what you're putting into your body is safe and effective.

How Do I Use Native NAC?

Native NAC is a powder supplement that’s meant to be taken with 8 ounces of water. Simply add one scoop to a glass of water, stir until completely dissolved, and enjoy daily for long-lasting results. One scoop a day will be enough to begin seeing positive results!

Most studies have demonstrated minimal side effects from supplementing with NAC (5). The most negative side effects associated with NAC intake are through injection or inhalation. Side effects reported with oral intake can include (9): 

  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Flushing
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth 

Native Note: If you happen to experience any of these, try taking your NAC supplement after you eat.

Who Should Take an NAC Supplement?

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) supplements like Native NAC can be a beneficial addition to many people's wellness routines, but they may be particularly advantageous for certain groups.

  • Those Seeking Healthy Aging: As we age, our body's production of glutathione naturally declines (2). By providing your body with the building blocks it needs to produce this powerful antioxidant, such as NAC and L-Glycine, you can support your body's natural defenses against the aging process.
  • Individuals Exposed to High Levels of Oxidative Stress: People who are frequently exposed to pollution, smoke, or other environmental toxins could benefit from an NAC supplement. These factors can increase oxidative stress in the body, which glutathione helps combat (3).
  • Fitness Enthusiasts: NAC's antioxidant properties can help protect against oxidative damage that occurs during intense physical activity (10). Plus, the addition of L-Taurine in Native NAC can support cardiovascular health, further enhancing your fitness routine.
  • People Looking to Boost Immune Health: Glutathione plays a vital role in the immune system (2). By supporting your body's glutathione levels with an NAC supplement, you may also be supporting your overall immune health.
  • Individuals Seeking Enhanced Cognitive Function: Some research suggests that NAC might have neuroprotective effects (11). This makes it a potentially useful supplement for those looking to maintain brain health and cognitive function as they age.

Remember, while NAC supplements can provide numerous potential benefits, they're not intended to replace a balanced diet, regular exercise, or prescribed medication. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking other medications.

A frontal shot of a container of NativeNAC with a glass of water and a scoop next to it.

An All-In-One Synergystic Blend

Native NAC combines a potent blend of amino acids into one convenient scoop to promote liver health, cellular repair, and natural detoxification.

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In addition, there is limited research when it comes to pregnant or breastfeeding women taking NAC, so be sure to discuss it with your doctor before adding it to your wellness routine.

FAQs About Glutathione

Glutathione has GRAS status, which stands for "generally recognized as safe" by the FDA. This status is given to regulated food and supplement products, meaning they are considered safe (6).

Mary Ahern
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Mary Ahern

Mary has a Master of Science in Nutrition and is a Registered Dietitian. Currently, she is a PhD student and loves dedicating her time to being at the forefront of our understanding of nutrition's impact on our bodies.

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    Medical Disclaimer

    This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.

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