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 mutation? Glutathione, often abbreviated as GSH, is a key antioxidant in the human body. However, those with the MTHFR mutation are at an increased risk of having a deficit of this free radical-fighting compound. There are various reasons for this possibility, which we will get into in a bit. 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 stores.
Glutathione depletion can occur for several reasons. Some possibilities include:
-Heavy toxic load in the body
-Elevated homocysteine levels
-Use of certain medications, particularly acetaminophen (Tylenol)
Symptoms of mild glutathione deficiency include:
Symptoms on the more 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. Remember, anything that supports methylation will also support glutathione production and stores. Some tips include:
-Intravenous glutathione therapy is available for severe cases
-Supplement with reduced glutathione
-Supplementation and/or diet rich in glutathione cofactors (Vitamins B1, B2, B6, B9, B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and alpha lipoic acid)
-Try glutathione-boosting supplements, such as NAC (n-acetyl cysteine), milk thistle, and curcumin
-Supplement with bioactive B vitamins
-Remove folic acid from supplementation and diet in the form of enriched foods
-Consume a diet rich in folate (dark leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, oranges, avocado, seeds, nuts, beans, lentils, cauliflower, beets, and bell peppers)
-Minimize use of acetaminophen (Tylenol)
-Minimize processed foods
-Get regular exercise
-Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep every night
-Use an infrared sauna
-Try epsom salt soaks
-Remember, a lifestyle of gentle detox will support glutathione stores in the long-run!
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.
Have you ever experienced symptoms associated with glutathione deficiency? Do you notice a difference since making lifestyle changes? What has worked best for you? Tell us about it!