Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that helps support detoxification pathways by providing protective measures against environmental stresses, air pollutants, heavy metals, and pharmaceuticals. Numerous condition has been associated with a decline of detoxification pathways such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative conditions.

According to a new study published in the journal Redox Biology, researchers at Oregon State University demonstrated that n-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) may help maintain glutathione levels and prevent the metabolic declines associated with aging. This powerful antioxidant declines with age and helps the body resist the stresses of everyday life.

In this animal study, researchers demonstrated that cells from younger animals are more resistant to stress than those from older animals. In younger animal cells stress doesn’t cause a rapid loss of glutathione as seen in older animals. As a result, prophylactic use of NAC increased glutathione levels in the older cells and offset cell death.

I also shared a study earlier this year published in June in PLOS ONE in which researchers from Thomas Jefferson University demonstrated a potential benefit of n-acetylcysteine (NAC) in patients with Parkinson’s disease. The study showed that patients receiving NAC improved both mental and physical abilities with brain imaging studies that tracked the levels of dopamine.

This demonstrates that NAC may have a unique physiological effect on the brain that alters the disease process and improves the function of dopamine neurons and offers a new approach for managing patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Glutathione is an important antioxidant which has been found to be depleted with the natural aging process and also seen in patients with neurodegenerative conditions. The extent of glutathione depletion appears to mirror the severity of disease and is the earliest known indicator of degeneration.

N-acetyl-cysteine can definitely play a significant a role in preventing the increased toxicity faced with aging and the body’s reduced ability to eliminate toxins. NAC has the ability to improve the metabolic resilience that lost with the aging process as well as it detoxification support. Increasing NAC can reduce the toxicity of some prescription drugs, cancer chemotherapies, and support other health issues. Therefore, using NAC as prophylactic support instead of a treatment can allow glutathione levels to be maintained to provide protective measures against the natural aging process in older adults.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Nicholas O. Thomas, Kate P. Shay, Amanda R. Kelley, Judy A. Butler, Tory M. Hagen. Glutathione maintenance mitigates age-related susceptibility to redox cycling agents. Redox Biology, 2016; 10: 45 DOI: 10.1016/j.redox.2016.09.010

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