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Chemical structure of glutathione

Do Glutathione Supplements Work?

Article Summary:

  • Glutathione is primarily absorbed in the upper jejunum of the small intestine. 

  • The intestinal enzyme gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase breaks down glutathione and prevents its intact absorption from most oral supplementation sources. 

  • Glutathione supplements engineered for targeted delivery enhance glutathione’s bioavailability and absorption in the body. 

Glutathione (GSH) is a low molecular weight tripeptide consisting of cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine. Its role as an antioxidant in eliminating free radicals and protecting cells from oxidative stress is well-known and is of significant interest.* Glutathione is the most abundant antioxidant synthesized by cells and its therapeutic benefits support a wide range of health functions.* However, factors like aging, poor diet, and different pathological conditions can adversely impact the ability of cells to synthesize glutathione, resulting in the increased production of free radicals because there are insufficient antioxidants to eliminate them. 

Glutathione nutritional supplements are often recommended to enhance depleted glutathione levels in the body. However, because our bodies do not adequately absorb glutathione, it raises the question: “Do glutathione supplements work?” 

Below, we suggest that although glutathione is typically poorly absorbed in the body, you should look for advanced nutritional supplement formulations engineered for enhanced glutathione absorption.           

Do Glutathione Supplements Work? Challenges to Absorption

Taking a nutritional supplement is the easiest and most common method for enhancing glutathione levels. The small intestine, particularly the upper jejunum, is where glutathione is primarily absorbed when taken in an oral form. Let’s look at the factors that inhibit glutathione absorption in the body, which limits the efficacy of many glutathione supplements.

Intestinal Enzyme Gamma Glutamyl Transpeptidase

Glutathione is a water-soluble antioxidant, and its reduced form, GSH, is further degraded by the intestinal enzyme, gamma glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT). Researchers believe that although GGT is responsible for recycling GSH precursors, it might prevent the significant intact absorption of glutathione from oral supplementation.  

Glutathione Elimination by Kidneys

Glutathione’s antioxidant mechanism of action is to bind to heavy metals and toxins to pull them out of the body.* Circulating glutathione makes these toxins water-soluble for kidney excretion. Clinical studies1 have established that more than 80% of glutathione is excreted during a single pass through the kidneys.    

As glutathione is rapidly hydrolyzed by GGT, a low serum level of glutathione can result. As such, the recommended amount of oral glutathione intake is 500-1,000 mg/day. However, research indicates the oral intake of glutathione in even larger amounts may stillnot sufficiently enhance glutathione serum levels to be of therapeutic benefit. 

In a study2 on the systemic availability of glutathione, it was observed that even after an oral intake of 3 grams of glutathione, it was not possible to boost the level of serum glutathione high enough to be clinically beneficial. Furthermore, the therapeutic level of glutathione in the blood is difficult to determine because glutathione exists in serum and in red (erythrocytes) and white blood cells (leucocytes).  

Although there are significant challenges to glutathione absorption in the body, it is presumed that when plasma glutathione concentration is low, enhancing the availability of circulating glutathione through oral supplements is of therapeutic value. Various strategies, including nanotechnology, have been developed to enhance the absorption and targeted delivery of glutathione molecules.    

A Glutathione Supplement Engineered for Optimal Absorption

SafeCell® is an acetylated form of oral glutathione developed by Tesseract Medical Research for enhanced absorption and bioavailability in the body. This hypoallergenic formulation utilizes the proprietary CyLoc® - DexKey® nanomolecular nutrient delivery technology to ensure the targeted delivery of billions of glutathione molecules at the desired point in the intestinal tract, one at a time. The CyLoc® technology isolates and encases each active ingredient molecule in its own dextrin fiber delivery cage to protect its integrity while it travels through the stomach. The DexKey® technology then releases the glutathione molecules at the targeted site, allowing for maximum absorption and effectiveness. 

Tesseract’s revolutionary technology makes it possible to enhance the absorption of safe and effective nutrients like glutathione, traditionally difficult to absorb in oral form. The result is a glutathione nutritional supplement that takes the nutrient’s efficacy to new levels for modulating oxidative stress, supporting natural detoxification pathways, and promoting the optimal functioning of other antioxidants and cellular and neurological functions.*

Do glutathione supplements work? To learn more about an advanced glutathione supplement that enhances the absorption and bioavailability of this ‘master antioxidant,’ contact us or visit Tesseract Medical Research


1 Schorbach, Lena et al. Nephron. Physiology vol. 124,1-2 (2013): 1-5. doi:10.1159/000356419
2 Witschi, A, et al. European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology vol. 43,6 (1992): 667-9. doi:10.1007/BF02284971

Al Czap, Founder | Tesseract

Al Czap has more than four decades of professional experience in preventative medicine. He founded Thorne Research in 1984 (sold in 2010) and he published Alternative Medicine Review for 17 years beginning in 1996. AMR was a highly acclaimed, peer-reviewed, and indexed medical journal. Al was the first to recognize the need for hypoallergenic ingredients and to devise methods of manufacture for and delivery of hypoallergenic products to underserved patient populations. His work has greatly impacted those with impaired immune and digestive systems and compromised health due to environmental exposures.

The advanced formulations based on our revolutionary, patented, and patent-pending technology are only available through Tesseract. No other medical, pharmaceutical, or supplement company is licensed to utilize our proprietary technology.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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