Sunday, 8 December 2013

Boosting Glutathione

We've talked previously about how important good glutathione levels are, so here we'll talk about how to boost them naturally and also with supplements. First a quick review of how glutathione is made:
  1. First methionine is converted to homocysteine, via methyl acceptors (opposite of donors).
  2. Next homocysteine is converted to cysteine via vitamin B6 with the addition of serine.
  3. Cysteine combines with glycine and glutamate, using selenium to make glutathione.

So the nutrients needed to make glutathione are:
  • Methionine + vitamin B6 (to make cysteine)
  • Then, cysteine + glycine + glutamate + selenium

The best foods source of each 'ingredient' is:
  • Methionine: eggs.
  • Vitamin B6: red meat.
  • Cysteine: red meat, eggs.
  • Glycine: gelatin (heads, hooves/feet, tails, ears, skin, cartilage, powder/sheets, etc)
  • Serine (inter-converts with glycine): any protein source.
  • Glutamate: any protein source.
  • Glutamine (inter-converts with glutamate): any protein source.
  • Selenium: kidneys, brazil nuts.

Notice red meat and eggs come up multiple times, this means they're very good foods to include in your diet if you want to boost glutathione production. But the other components are equally important, so brink your gelatin-rich broth and eat your kidneys/brazil nuts.

Ok, now you're eating everything you need to make glutathione, lets make sure you make as much as possible. Methods for doing this include:
  • N-acetyl-cysteine: this is a special 'locked up' form of cysteine that really helps boost glutathione production. Never supplement normal cysteine as bacteria tend to get to it first and use it for their own reproduction. Suggested dose: ~600mg.
  • Milk thistle/Silymarin: this is a herb (and its active ingredient) that helps the liver to work properly, boosting its functions, including... you guessed it, making glutathione. Suggested dose: 100-200mg silymarin. This supplement is boosted when taken at the same time as choline, so eat some egg yolks with it for maximum effect.
  • Turmeric/curcumin: this spice boosts glutathione S-transferase which is hormone that regulates glutathione production. Suggested dose: 1tsp turmeric.
  • Whey protein: this boosts glutathione, due to its natural cysteine and other nutrients.

Ultimate glutathione production method:
  • Diet based on red meat (for cysteine, B6, zinc), with additional egg yolks (choline), poultry liver (folate), kidneys/brazil nuts (selenium), and gelatin-rich bone broth (glycine).
  • Supplements: 600mg N-acetyl-cysteine, 200mg silymarin as milk thistle, 1tsp turmeric, 1 scoop whey protein powder.

Glutathione nutrients for the carnivore RDA example diet (link):
  • Methionine: 2,180mg.
  • Cysteine: 1,130mg.
  • Vitamin B6: 1.66mg.
  • Glycine+serine: 13,700mg.
  • Glutamate+glutamine: 13,510mg.
  • Selenium: 194ug.

2000 calories of rib-eye (877g raw) would have:
  • Methionine: 4,600mg.
  • Cysteine: 1,700mg.
  • Vitamin B6: 3.6mg.
  • Glycine+serine: 15,300mg.
  • Glutamate+glutamine: 27,600mg.
  • Selenium: 212ug.

As we can see, both diets are strong glutathione producers. But I don't recommend a diet of JUST red meat steaks for many other reasons already stated in this blog, but glutathione production is not one of my concerns with such a diet. Bare in mind the rib-eye diet has a lot more protein overall too (~170g versus ~100g), so has more of the critical amino acids just from bulk.

Recommended intake:
  • Methionine: 2,000mg.
  • Cysteine: 1,500mg. ???
  • Vitamin B6: >0.016mg/g protein.
  • Glycine+serine: 13,500mg.
  • Glutamate+glutamine: 20,000mg. ???
  • Selenium: 200ug.


  1. How should one take 1tsp of turmeric? I currently use it in combination with black pepper (heard its a good combination) on my meat and fish before I cook them.

    Is this the correct way?

    1. I heard that frying the spices in oil before adding meat, etc is the best delivery method as the beneficial chemicals are fat-soluble.

  2. so if you're already consuming those things regularly - how else do you boost glutathione? (except just eating more red meat, more eggs, more brazil nuts etc..)?

    1. If I find out any other tricks, they'll be added here.

    2. In rats, glutathione was doubled while in in ketosis. But, you know, in rats...

      The ketogenic diet increases mitochondrial glutathione levels.

  3. Typically you cannot directly supplement glutathione orally. This makes supplementing the precursors and optimizing the methylation process very important. However now you can supplement with acetyl glutathione to directly enhance GSH levels without fear of the GI tract destroying the glutathione molecule. Combine acetyl glutathione with NAC and selenium and you can significantly improve GSH levels and GSH synthesis.

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