If you have an MTHFR variant, glutathione is a word you want to be familiar with. What exactly is it, though? And what does it have to do with the MTHFR gene?
Glutathione, often abbreviated as GSH, is a key antioxidant in the human body. However, those with an MTHFR variant are at an increased risk of having a deficit of this free radical-fighting compound. Many MTHFR-related health problems can be experienced as a result of this depletion process. Therefore, it's important to take measures to both prevent deficiency and replenish lost stores. If you would like to confirm a glutathione deficiency or track your progress, ask your naturopathic physician to test for glutathione (GSH) during your blood work testing.
Glutathione depletion can occur for several reasons. Some possibilities include:
High toxic load in the body
Elevated homocysteine levels
Use of certain medications, particularly acetaminophen (Tylenol)
Symptoms of mild glutathione deficiency include:
Symptoms on the severe end of the spectrum include:
Metabolic acidosis (too much acid in the body)
Development of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease
Ataxia (loss of coordination)
If you identify with any of these symptoms, this is a great time to be pro-active and prevent more severe complications. Thankfully, there are many things you can do to boost glutathione production and prevent depletion.
Some tips include:
Direct Supplementation - You can replenish glutathione stores by supplementation with glutathione directly. It's important to use a quality product that provides glutathione in a liposomal form, which will offer optimal absorption, such as this one by Seeking Health. For severe cases of depletion, intravenous therapy may be necessary.
Supplementation With Co-Factors - Co-factors are nutrients that promote the production and optimal functioning of another compound. Glutathione's co-factors include the B vitamin family, vitamin C and E, selenium, magnesium, zinc, and alpha lipoic acid. Most of these can be covered in a good multivitamin. Just be sure you're taking a bioavailable form that avoids folic acid.
Supplementation With Precursors - Precursors are the nutrients that are required to create another compound. Glutathione's precursors are glutamate, glycine, and cysteine. Glutamate and glycine are produced in the body, but cysteine is harder to come by. Cysteine is in many animal products, but is notoriously fragile and often doesn't survive food processing and/or digestion. Raw dairy is an excellent source of cysteine that tends to survive well. Supplementation with N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) is also a great option.
Limit Acetaminophen - Acetaminophen (i.e. Tylenol), even in its recommended dosage, can deplete glutathione stores. Other pain relievers can also have a negative impact, albeit to a much lesser degree. Try to limit use as much as possible. Be sure to counter use with glutathione supplementation whenever necessary.
Diet - Consume a healthy diet that is rich in folate (dark leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, avocado, etc.). Minimize processed foods, sugar, and enriched products.
Minimize Toxic Load - Implement a lifestyle of gentle detox. Take stock of all of your products - cleaning, personal care, cosmetics, etc. - and slowly replace with non-toxic alternatives. Try epsom salt baths and infrared saunas. Rebounding is an excellent form of exercise that promotes detoxification. Squeezing some lemon into your water every day is a quick and easy way to boost your detox pathways.
Other Lifestyle Factors - Some other lifestyle factors that can impact glutathione stores include getting adequate exercise, aiming for 7-8 hours of sleep every night, and stress management.
To take a deeper, guided dive into how to thrive with an MTHFR variant, check out Hey MTHFR Academy. This 16-week online course will give you the tools you need to harness the power of epigenetics and befriend your MTHFR gene.