Heavy Metal Toxicity and Glutathione

HEAVY METALSExposure to high levels of metallic, inorganic, or organic mercury can permanently damage the brain, kidneys, and developing fetus. Effects on brain functioning may result in irritability, shyness, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, and memory problems. Short-term exposure to high levels of metallic mercury vapors may cause effects including lung damage, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, increases in blood pressure or heart rate, skin rashes, and eye irritation.

Glutathione and glutathione-related enzymes are important antioxidants in the role of detoxifying the body to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, iron and mercury. Heavy metals have the potential to disrupt the biological activities of proteins. Glutathione supplementation can halt the damage that was created my exposure to these metals. Here is deep look into how glutathione can assist in the detoxification of heavy metals.

Glutathione and Heavy Metals

There are many unanswered questions about ALA (Alpha Lipoic Acid) and heavy metal detoxification especially concerning mercury. You need to understand that the amount of ALA supplemented versus the amount of toxic metals in our tissues is important and has been proven through animal trials. For protection and viability in mercury, studies has shown that a molar ratio of 6-8:1 (ALA:mercury) is necessary. In arsenic studies, a ratio of 2:3 has also been seen. The ability of ALA assist or rather prevent the movement of the heavy metals from the liver appears to be element specific. According to medical studies, biliary release of methyl mercury, copper, zinc and cadmium was inhibited by ALA.

It is worrying that ALA has the ability to mobilize heavy metals to the other tissues in the body from the ones where the metals are most concentrated, specifically the brain. The complexion of heavy metals with lipoic acid and glutathione may be the best explanation for this finding. It is important to note that inorganic mercury forms stable complexes with DHLA or ALA which means that it could be excreted with DHLA independent of available glutathione. Injected lipoic acid could complex with glutathione as it moves through the liver to prevent Glutathione from carrying other metals like cadmium or transition metals like copper and zinc into bile.

How Glutathione works on heavy metals

You need to note that your defense is a combination of both your ability to excrete the toxin and also to accommodate it. This means that you not only need to focus on how to remove the heavy metal toxicity but also know how to improve your defenses. According to research, the quintessential defense is the glutathione system. This doesn’t mean that we should only focus on glutathione, but also the enzymes and other proteins that help glutathione do its work.

Glutathione Is a Key Player in Metal-Induced Oxidative Stress Defenses” – PUBMED.

Although what’s most talked about is the fact that glutathione is mostly needed to bind to mercury and get rid of it from the body, you will rarely hear people talking about the Glutathione S-Transferase (GST) – an enzyme that acts as a catalyst in the transfer of heavy metal off or a cellular protein and onto glutathione. If you do some research on PubMed, you will notice that there are many more pathologies, mostly cancers, associated with express of GST that with levels of glutathione even, though low glutathione levels, are associated with a number of problems.

How can you tell a well-functioning glutathione system?

Well it not only has adequate levels of glutathione but also proves to have adequate expression of GST. It must also have transport proteins that aid in the movement of the metal-glutathione conjugates out of the cells. What you need to realize is that these same transport proteins move the conjugates from the blood into the liver then into the GI tract.

A great paper that demonstrates the importance of the integrated operation of this system looks at cell cultures that have been screened for cadmium resistance. According to researchers, cells that were highly resistant to cadmium were found. They also discovered that these cells were resistant to mercury and arsenic. The feature of the cells that was a major facilitator of the resistance was a strong glutathione system. The cells would lose their resistance to the toxic metals if they suppressed either the expression of GST or the synthesis of glutathione or transport proteins. This proves that the entire system is equally important and should be supported.

Glutathione Bottles