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Glutathione is an amino acid used in a variety of cellular processes, particularly in energy transfer. Its oral precursor, N-acetylcysteine, is used in the medical profession as an antioxidant (particularly in overdoses of acetaminophen). Due to the simplicity of the molecule, it has a wide array of applications including improving anemia with or without renal failure.
High levels of glutathione are largely reflective (especially in ratio with free oxygen content) of a healthy patient. Disease states such as human immunodeficiency virus and other microbial infections are associated with a low net value of glutathione. This metric is available via blood testing. The reduced form of glutathione has an extraordinarily low level of bioavailability, and either injection via subcutaneous or intravenous route is preferred. Additional proven precursors to glutathione include alpha-lipoic acid, s-adenosyl methionine and whey protein.
Studies on absolute efficacy of glutathione injections are limited. Glutathione depleted rats have up to 50% decreased exercise performance. In one case study, a researcher significantly decreased the time/distance ratio in his cycling regimen after 4 glutathione injections. More research needs to be completed in this arena, and glutathione is not FDA-approved for any disease.
Source: The Townsend Letter For Doctors & Patients, July 2003:page 66. Does
Glutathione Enhance Exercise Performance? – A Case Study. B. Misner.