Glutathione-boosting supplement marketer stops social media posts that NAD said implied COVID-19 treatment benefits

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

©Getty Images - nito100
©Getty Images - nito100

Related tags coronavirus claims COVID-19 Antioxidant activity

A glutathione-boosting supplement that debuted on the market recently to some fanfare has run afoul of the National Advertising Division’s COVID-19 claims monitoring program. The company, called INID Research Lab LLC, has agreed to discontinue a social media post that implied its product was an effective coronavirus treatment.

INID Research Lab recently debuted its supplement called Continual-G Glutathione Enhancer on the US market in May​. The supplement is based on an ingredient called Glyteine, which is claimed to show an immediate boost in glutathione levels, unlike some other dietary ingredients that can raise those levels only after months of supplementation.

Glutathione, known as the body’s ‘master antioxidant’ is produced in all tissues of the body. It is formed via a two step enzymatic process.  The first joins the amino acids glutamate and glycine to make gamma-glutamylcysteine (GGC) and the second adds another glycine molecule to make glutathione. But this system degrades as cells age, with the first enzyme losing its capacity to produce enough GGC to sustain the body’s glutathione needs.  Free radical damage to DNA and other cellular structures then accelerates, hastening the senescence of cells.

Instability of molecule presents challenge

Glutathione supplementation has always been problematical because the ingredient is highly reactive by nature.  The molecule tends to quickly fall apart into its component amino acids. This could still supply the building blocks for endogenous glutathione synthesis within the cells but it doesn’t address the degradation of the enzymatic function.  Some existing ingredients have shown statistically significant increases in cellular glutathione levels but only after months of supplementation.

However, Cypress, TX-based INID Research Lab said the supplement it manufacures, based on the Glyteine ingredient which had been under development for years in Australia, was shown a placebo-controlled pilot study published in the journal Redox Biology​ to be taken directly into the cells, where it was available for the second stage of the glutathione synthesis pathway.  The result was glutathione levels that peaked at two to three times above basal levels within 90 minutes of supplementation.

Those peer reviewed results notwithstanding, NAD alleged that the company had crossed the line with a recent social media post that in NAD’s view implied that the supplement can protect consumers against COVID-19.

Connection of glutathione boost to immunity claim

In the cited social media post, an image of a woman wearing a face mask was shown with the text “Strong IMMUNITY Needs Glutathione.”​  Additional text associated with the message stated “Building your immunity during these times is more important than ever.”

NAD stated it found the post via a routine monitoring program.  The organization noted that the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Centers for Disease Control have both stated that there are no approved vaccines, drugs or investigational products currently available that have been shown to be effective against this novel disease.

According to NAD, INID Research issued a statement saying that it has “removed any all imagery found to be suggestive of effects of our product in preventing, treating or mitigating”​ COVID-19 and that is has “no intension of any sort of claim, express or implied, in any marketing materials associated with its products relative to this serious disease.”

At the moment, the company makes this claim on its website: “Glutathione is perfectly suited to boost the immune system.”

Continued monitoring of COVID-19 claims

INID Research was not the only company cited recently by NAD for noncompliant coronavirus claims.  Last week NAD issued a statement that said that  Provezza Health, LLC informed NAD that, prior to the opening of NAD’s inquiry, it permanently discontinued an Instagram post of Provezza Elderberry Syrup with featured the text, “Potent Immune Support During A Severe Season” ​and associated text stating “Provezza is highly concentrated to deliver antioxidant action for immune defense.” ​ 

The NAD statement went on to say that Provezza Health disagreed that the post conveyed the implied claim that Provezza Elderberry Syrup protects users against COVID-19.  But NAD said Provezza had committed to refrain from making express or implied claims with such a message the future.

The National Advertising Division is part of BBB (Better Business Bureau) National Programs.  It monitors advertising in a wide range of industries for truth and accuracy.

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