Kohjin, based in Tokyo, has been producing glutathione via its patented process for almost 50 years, and the ingredient has wide use in supplements across Asia as a detoxifier and as a skin whitening agent. But the company said controversy has swirled around the ingredient's use in oral supplementation. While glutathione, often called the ‘master antioxidant,’ is ubiquitous in the body, the company said that there was little scientific agreement about whether levels of this important molecule could be boosted via oral supplementation. That started to change last year when competitor Kyowa Hakko announced positive results for a supplementation study conducted at Penn State University. Now Kohjin has evidence of its own, in a study the company funded and conducted in conjunction with the Kyoto Prefectural University in Japan. The study found significant rises in the blood plasma with oral administration of the ingredient.
According to Kohjin, the issue over the years with glutathione supplementation is that researchers were looking in the wrong place. The issue was observation, or more clearly lack of it, in the deproteinized fraction of blood plasma in human subjects after oral intake of glutathione. The Kohjin research team in conjuection the university team led by Dr. Kenji Sato, examined plasma fractionated on the basis of molecular mass from human volunteers, where they discovered GSH in the protein-bound fraction of the plasma. Animal models indicated the same result, where 13C-labeled GSH showed its presence in the liver, at levels of 8% or more, in as little as two hours after one dose.
Sports nutrition application
The company also resently presented yet-to-be-published data at the 61st Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) in Orlando, Florida in May showing mitochondrial biogenesis associated with glutathione supplementation. Researchers from KOHJIN Life Sciences, Kyoto Prefectural University, and the Karolinska Institutet presented a report on their laboratory and in vivo/human clinical studies that they said showed glutathione’s ability to restore muscular energy through oral intake and absorption; shining a brighter light on the tripeptide’s significant role in maintaining good health, based on our human studies. Researchers said the studies resulted in a PGC-1α, Mitochondrial DNA and AMP activated-kinase expression in skeletal muscle, which can lead to acceleration of fatty acid utilization through activation of mitochondrial aerobic metabolism. These results suggest that GSH improves lipid metabolism and acidification in muscle during exercise, which leads to the decrease of muscle fatigue.
Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
- "Increase in the Protein-Bound Form of Glutathione in Human Blood After the Oral Administration of Glutathione"
J. Agric. Food Chem., 2014, 62 (26), pp 6183–6189DOI: 10.1021/jf501338zAuthors: Eun Young Park, et al.