glutathione molecule

What is Glutathione? 

Glutathione is a substance produced naturally in your liver and is a powerful antioxidant.  It is the mother of all antioxidants as it helps recycle the others.  Antioxidants are helpful to you as they prevent oxidation and ageing.  It is made from three amino acids: glutamic acid, cysteine and glycine.  One of the primary functions of glutathione is cellular detoxification.

Why is glutathione important?

Healthy blood levels are important for protection from heart disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s and ageing in general.  Reduced levels occur with ageing.  Low levels are associated with increased oxidative damage.

How do I get glutathione?

Foods contain it and there are supplements that supply it.  However, most of what is orally ingested gets broken down in your digestive tract.  So it doesn’t have an impact on increasing your blood levels.  For this reason, taking supplements is likely a waste of money.  This even applies to expensive forms like liposomal glutathione. Consuming the above amino acids help your liver to produce more if you need it. Food sources of glutathione include spinach, asparagus, avocado, squash, okra, cauliflower, broccoli, walnuts, garlic and tomatoes.

How else can I raise my blood level?

There are a number of supplements that have been shown to help raise levels in your blood.  These include:
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid
  • Milk Thistle
  • MSM
  • Melatonin
  • Curcumin
  • N-Acetyl Cysteine

Your body can also recycle your existing glutathione with the help of the following vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamins: C, E, B vitamins, active folic acid (L-5MTHF)
  • Minerals: selenium, zinc, vanadium, magnesium

Too Much of a Good Thing?

There is some research that has found higher levels of glutathione in cancer cells.  It may be that the cells have increased their own level as a means of protecting themselves.  It may safeguard them from damage by cancer treatment drugs. Or it may be that cancer cells are trying to keep themselves from undergoing normal cell death, known as apoptosis.

Should you supplement with glutathione?

I would say no, for the reasons that I have already mentioned:

  1. It’s poorly absorbed
  2. It’s quickly broken down in your gut and
  3. Until we fully understand why glutathione is higher in cancer cells, it may be best to avoid artificially increasing it.

Use of some of the above supplements that help support healthy internal production of it or recycling of it seems like safer options.

For more advice about supplements, talk to one of our naturopathic doctors.

Authored By Dr Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND


Yilin Liu, Annastasia S. Hyde, Melanie A. Simpson, and Joseph J. Barycki. Emerging regulatory paradigms in glutathione metabolism. Adv Cancer Res. 2014; 122: 69–101.

Matthew Butawan, Rodney L. Benjamin, and Richard J. Bloomer. Methylsulfonylmethane: Applications and Safety of a Novel Dietary Supplement. Nutrients. 2017 Mar; 9(3): 290.

Antonio Carrillo-Vico, Patricia J. Lardone, Nuria Álvarez-Sánchez, Ana Rodríguez-Rodríguez, and Juan M. Guerrero. Melatonin: Buffering the Immune System. Int J Mol Sci. 2013 Apr; 14(4): 8638–8683.

Jianguo Lin, Youcai Tang, Qiaohua Kang, Yunfeng Feng, and Anping Chen. Curcumin inhibits gene expression of receptor for advanced glycation end-products (RAGE) in hepatic stellate cells in vitro by elevating PPARγ activity and attenuating oxidative stress. Br J Pharmacol. 2012 Aug; 166(8): 2212–2227.


structure of CoQ10
What is CoQ10?

CoQ10, also known as coenzyme Q10 or ubiquinone, is a naturally-occurring compound found in every cell in your body.  It is vital for healthy heart and muscle function, among other things.

Why is Coenzyme Q10 Important?

CoQ10 plays a key role in producing energy in the form of ATP in your mitochondria.  These are the energy powerhouse of your cells. Every cell in your body needs enough of this coenzyme to have enough energy to work properly.

What is Associated with Low Levels of CoQ10?

Low levels of CoQ10 are found in patients with heart failure, cardiomyopathy, Parkinson’s disease and those on cholesterol-lowering medications called statin drugs.  CoQ10 supplementation has been proven to improve these conditions.  Taking CoQ10 also helps diabetics improve their blood sugar control and blood pressure.  Topical application of CoQ10 in the mouth can help with periodontal (gum) disease.

What Causes Low Levels of CoQ10?

Statin medications can reduce levels of ubiquinone, and cause fatigue, muscle pain, muscle tenderness, muscle weakness, nighttime cramping, and tendon pain.  We always recommend supplementation if you are taking statin drugs.

Recent research has also suggested a role for CoQ10 in infertility.

The Best Food Sources of CoQ10 (mg per serving)

Pork heart (24 mg)

Beef heart (4.8 mg)

Chicken leg (2.0 mg)

Herring (0.7 mg)

Trout (1.1 mg)

What are the Best CoQ10 Supplements?

Not crazy about those food options? Quality supplements are available through excellent manufacturers like Metagenics, Douglas Labs and Xymogen.  Metagenics has formulated a nanomicelle CoQ10 that delivers 1,000 times smaller molecules than other formulas, which places the active ingredient closer to cell membranes. It has been demonstrated in a study to be more bioavailable, increasing plasma levels by 25-50%, so less supplementation is required.  Douglas Labs offers a lozenge that may help gum disease.  Xymogen’s CoQMax has been shown in clinical trials to be over eight times more absorbable than powdered CoQ10 and more than twice as bioavailable as other oil-based or so-called “nano”-dispersed formulas on the market.

If you are thinking of supplementing with Coenzyme Q10, it’s best to speak to one of our naturopaths for expert advice about which one is best for you.  Call us at 416-481-0222 or book online here.

Authored by Dr Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), Naturopath

CoQ10 References:

Skarlovnik A, Janić M, Lunder M, Turk M, Šabovič M. Coenzyme Q10 supplementation decreases statin-related mild-to-moderate muscle symptoms: a randomized clinical study. Med Sci Monit. 2014 Nov 6;20:2183-8. doi: 10.12659/MSM.890777.

Wang LW, Jabbour A, Hayward CS, Furlong TJ, Girgis L, Macdonald PS, Keogh AM. Potential role of coenzyme Q10 in facilitating recovery from statin-induced rhabdomyolysis. Intern Med J. 2015 Apr;45(4):451-3. doi: 10.1111/imj.12712.

Ben-Meir A, Burstein E, Borrego-Alvarez A, Chong J, Wong E, Yavorska T, Naranian T, Chi M, Wang Y, Bentov Y, Alexis J, Meriano J, Sung HK, Gasser DL, Moley KH, Hekimi S, Casper RF, Jurisicova A. Coenzyme Q10 restores oocyte mitochondrial function and fertility during reproductive aging. Aging Cell. 2015 Oct;14(5):887-95. doi: 10.1111/acel.12368. Epub 2015 Jun 26.