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Whitening wonder

The facts and myths of glutathione

In a culture where white is beautiful, almost everyone has heard of or have tried glutathione, a popular whitening ingredient featured in countless products available in the market today. Glutathione is so well-known you won’t miss it in an aisle of beauty products where it can be found in different forms, from lotions and soaps to pills and powdered drinks! But is it true that glutathione is not effective when taken orally? Is it safe for the body? This week, let us uncover the facts and debunk the myths about glutathione.

1. Glutathione is a chemically produced substance to lighten skin.gluta

FALSE: Glutathione is a naturally occurring substance in our body consisting of amino acids cysteine, glycine, and glutamate. Contrary to popular belief, skin lightening is not glutathione’s main function nor is it a chemical. In fact, glutathione is in every cell; it is an antioxidant that fights off free radicals, those molecules that can wreak havoc on healthy cells and cause diseases. It prevents premature aging, it releases toxins, it strengthens your immune system, and it helps avoid infection. Moreover, glutathione is an important aide in other molecular processes as well. Whitening comes as an effect when tyrosinase, an enzyme that produces melanin (responsible for the skin’s color), is inhibited by glutathione while in the process of fighting off free radicals.

2. Glutathione slowly diminishes or depletes as one ages.

FACT: Glutathione and good health go together, as glutathione is associated with a lot of bodily functions. As one ages, however, glutathione decreases its supply and somehow it is correlated to why older people are more prone to diseases and infection and have lower immunity. It is reported that glutathione levels start to deplete from the time one enters adulthood, at a rate from eight to 12 percent per decade. This means that by the time one reaches old age, at 60 years and above, more than half of glutathione levels have diminished. Furthermore, sicknesses and environmental triggers like pollution and sun exposure may further contribute to the decline of glutathione levels.

3. Glutathione is found in food.

FALSE: Glutathione is not found in food, but there are food items that can help increase glutathione levels, such as those high in amino acids (spinach, asparagus, and other green leafy vegetables), fruits (like avocados and oranges), meat, and eggs. Some  research says, however, that consuming these food items may not be enough to raise glutathione levels significantly.

4. Glutathione is the most effective when taken orally.

FALSE: Glutathione can be applied topically, taken orally, or injected. Topical glutathione is the least effective, as it does not penetrate deep enough to the cell where it is needed. Taking glutathione orally may not be the most effective either as it is immediately broken down during digestion before it even gets processed. According to some reports, the best way for glutathione to be effective is when it is taken intravenously, compared to oral and topical applications, but it should be administered properly and injected with the right dosage. IV glutathione, however, is also up for debate, as it is reported that it only provides short term benefits and thus, regular IV sessions are needed to notice results.

5. Glutathione products in the market are safe.

FALSE: Not all glutathione products in the market are safe, nor all are effective, either. Overdosage is common in whitening products to hasten the whitening effect, but it is not always safe. It is best to consult a dermatologist before trying any product that will lighten your skin.

6. Glutathione may have some

side effects.

FACT: Although not common, glutathione supplementation has been reported to have serious side effects if not administered properly and given in very high dosages, such as dependency on synthetic glutathione after prolonged use, allergic reactions, an increased sensitivity to the sun, and a higher risk of Steven Johnsons syndrome.

Glutathione is an important cellular component that not only whitens skin, but mainly helps us achieve optimum health to do our daily tasks effectively and efficiently. Oral or intravenous glutathione supplementation has been available for some time, and while more studies are needed to test its effectivity to lighten skin or boost levels of glutathione, remember to consult your dermatologist before trying it. It would also help to disclose any existing or prior skin condition or medical illness to your physician before taking glutathione, as having these may be counterproductive or may not be suitable for glutathione intake. For me, one looks most beautiful when he or she is comfortable in his/ her own skin. No matter what your skin color is, when you are happy and you take care of your skin the best way you can, it naturally glows!