Glutathione, the Most Accurate Predictor of Cognitive Decline

July 24, 2022

Glutathione, The Most Accurate Predictor of Cognitive Decline

Do you know what glutathione is? Wikipedia reports that it is your body's most important natural antioxidant and is "capable of preventing damage to important cellular components caused by reactive oxygen species such as free radicals, peroxides, lipid peroxides, and heavy metals. That makes it hugely important. You want higher glutathione levels.

How do we get to cognitive decline and glutathione? Easy. It turns out glutathione is just about the most important antioxidant to protect your mitochondria. Your brain, particularly your frontal cortex that mediates "executive function", and which makes us human, has about 5,000 mitochondria per neuron. That is about the highest in the whole human body. Your brain uses a ton of energy, and needs a boatload of mitochondria to make it......... which means it needs a lot of glutathione to protect those mitochondria. It's your frontal cortex that takes it on the chin with Alzheimer's. That's the part of your brain that shrinks the most with Alzheimer's.

So, take 511 adults, employees of Emory University with an average of 18 years of education, average age of 49, 64% women and measure their glutathione, and a whole raft of cognitive functions. Follow them for four years and repeat all the testing yearly. What you find is that declining glutathione predicts loss of executive function more accurately than other testing...and proceeds loss of memory. It becomes a remarkable biomarker of future cognitive decline.

Well, well. That has been enough for authors to call for Glutathione to be given to folks with mild cognitive impairment (which is a lot of us who forget just why we opened the fridge and where, or where are my car keys.). The problem is that because it is just three amino acids hooked together, when you take it orally it gets lost in your gut and digested into the component amino acids. 

But you can get it IV. It is relatively inexpensive to manufacture. And giving it IV only takes about 5 minutes. No side effects, no toxicity, no harm, no danger. I suspect with all the interest in it, there will be more means of giving it. Inhalational with a ventilator? Transdermal? Intranasal? I'm sure the ideas will come out.

www.What will Work for me. This study from Emory was an observational study, not a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. But I'm totally fixated on it. I've been taking IV glutathione myself to lower my own body-burden of environmental toxins. I have no side effects. I have a raft of clients who swear by it and come and get their IV fix once a week to once a month. We don't have proof that administration of it fixes things at all....yet. The accumulated evidence appears to be fascinatingly coherent. The biology and chemistry all fit, and make sense. I'm going to start measuring it in folks who are curious. We need to learn this stuff.

Meantime, did you know that when you take NAC (N-acetyl cysteine) you boost your own glutathione? How about at least a gram a day of NAD? Alpha lipoic acid boosts you too. As does turmeric. Take em all! Doses? Who knows. At least some.


References: Perlmutter, Jr Neuroinflammation, Neurochem International, Antioxidants, Wikipedia, AntiOxidant Redox Signal., Am Jr Alzheimer's Dis and Other Dementia, Jr Alzheimer's Dis, Jr Gerontology,

Pop Quiz

1. What is glutathione?                               Answer: Your first and foremost antioxidant in your blood. It complements your plasmalogens, which provide protection in your cell membranes.

2. . What happens with glutathione with aging?                       Answer: Super complex answer. Drops like a rock in folks who have serious disease (chicken? egg ?) but there are many studies that show healthy older folks have plenty.

3. This quoted study of 511 university folks showed what?                             Answer: Glutathione reduction predicted loss of executive function more accurately than memory.

4. You can easily replace it with oral supplementation? T or F?                               Answer: False. Liposomal forms help a little but orally is generally miserably ineffective.

5. There is good proof that IV glutathione fixes Alzheimer's. T or F.                         Answer: Whoa Nellie, not proven yet at all. Calls for study exist and there is a lot of interest in it. The barrier is the cost of IV administration for the long term. So, take NAC instead, and alpha lipoic acid and turmeric.