Potential Health Benefits of Two Dietary Antioxidants, Glutathione and N-Acetylcysteine, among Adults with CVD Risk

A long history of epidemiological studies has suggested that dietary antioxidants are associated with prevention from heart disease. Glutathione (GSH) is one of the body’s most powerful antioxidant agents but there is a surprising lack of data on its potential health benefits.

Glutathione, when taken orally, is immediately broken down into its constituent amino acids, of which cysteine is the only one to be essential. Available cysteine is the critical determinant of intracellular GSH concentrations. N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is an antioxidant supplement that has been used to provide a source of cysteine to replete GSH levels. By replenishing endogenous glutathione, it is possible that NAC would exert the same effect(s) as exogenous GSH.

The aim of this study was to compare the effects of GSH and NAC on markers of inflammation. Specifically, the goal was to learn whether glutathione is better able to lower blood levels of inflammatory than N-Acetylcysteine.

Study Design

Two doses of glutathione and N-acetylcysteine were administered to adults in general good health with elevated cardiovascular risk factors (metabolic syndrome) for 8 weeks.


After 8 weeks there were no detectable decreases in blood concentrations of four inflammatory markers.