A new study has found that supplementing with a combination of glutathione and Vitamin C improves sporting performance in middle-aged triathlon athletes.

The researchers reported marked improvements in three measurable areas of health—metabolic, cardiac and oxidative.

It was determined that study subjects who were consuming the combo supplement had significantly lower carbon dioxide output, respiratory exchange ratio, heart rate, and blood lactate levels when compared with the placebo group.

The study was published in Nutrients in July 2023.

In addition, the supplement group also performed better than the groups who took just glutathione or Vitamin C individually—demonstrating the potent synergy of taking the two nutrients together.

While Vitamin C health benefits are well known, and different forms of the nutrient have been available in supplement form for over a century, glutathione is relatively new in the nutritional supplement scene.

What is glutathione?

Glutathione is an important antioxidant that is found in every cell of the body. Research conducted during the past two decades has shown glutathione helps boost immunity, improve strength and physical performance, and reduces the risk of age-related diseases.

Glutathione is produced in the body through enzymatic reactions using the amino acids cysteine, L-glutamic acid and glycine. It is also an important disease-preventing antioxidant in plants, fungi, and some bacteria. One unique aspect about glutathione is that the body is able to make it in the liver—something that is not true of most antioxidants.

Since glutathione production in the body decreases with age it has become popular as a nutritional supplement as a way to offset the decline.

Study details

Noting that “the biochemical processes of vitamin C and glutathione are closely connected,” the researchers endeavored to document the benefits of the combo supplement versus a placebo and single-nutrient comparison groups.

Previous research has shown that increased intakes of individual antioxidants, such as vitamins A and C, and glutathione, can prevent the accumulation of free radicals and thereby reduce oxidative stress; however, the research on a specific glutathione/Vitamin C combo was limited.

The study was a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover trial—the gold standard for scientific trials. This lends credibility to the findings, despite the fact that the number of participants was small.

Other functions of glutathione

• Supporting immune function
• Making DNA, building blocks of cells
• Forming sperm cells
• Destroying free radicals
• Supporting enzyme function
• Transporting mercury out of the brain
• Helping the liver and gallbladder remove fat
• Supporting apoptosis (normal cell death)

SOURCE: Medical News Today

The trial was conducted at Konkuk University in South Korea and included 12 middle-aged triathlon athlete participants. The participants had an average age of 49.

The participants were required to complete a 90-minute submaximal cycling trial, corresponding to a 70% maximal oxygen intake. “Submaximal performance testing” is a way of measuring or estimating aerobic fitness in sports medicine.

Before the exercise routine the test subjects were provided supplements containing either Vitamin C and glutathione, glutathione only, Vitamin C only, or a placebo.

The results, documented by post-exercise measurements, were significant: Carbon dioxide output, respiratory exchange ratio, heart rate, and blood lactate after exercise were all significantly lower within the group supplemented with both Vitamin C and glutathione.

In addition to the primary performance and health “markers” measured by the researchers, secondary markers also increased in the combo group: O2 pulse, total haemoglobin and myoglobin in skeletal muscle tissue, and BAP (a test designed to assess the Biological Antioxidant Potential of blood plasma).

“These findings could be valuable in guiding supplementation and optimizing performance strategies for middle-aged triathletes and potentially other athletes with similar exercise demands and physiological profiles,” the researchers wrote in the study findings.

Exercise and the science of oxidative stress

Regular exercise is essential for good health; however, it has long been established that oxidative stress occurs during high-intensity exercise. In addition, pro-inflammatory cytokines, causing inflammation and muscle damage, can contribute to a decreased exercise performance.

For this reason many scientists—and athletes—recognize that antioxidant supplementation can enhance both exercise ability and recovery.

This important “exercise benefit” provided by antioxidants is often overlooked by consumers who typically think of antioxidant supplements as immune-building products. But it is the exact benefit the researchers expected to find, and did  in fact validate, in the current study.

“Antioxidant supplementation can remove excess reactive oxygen species, reduce inflammation, and stabilize the oxidative-reductive environment, thereby improving skeletal muscle blood flow and oxygen utilization capacity,” the researchers wrote in the study summary.

If you want to benefit from the synergy of a glutathione-Vitamin C combination, check out Essential Glutathione from Optimal Health Systems. Click the banner ad on this page to learn more.

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Source: Nutrients (MDPI.com).