NMU 284 – Glutathione Status Emerging as a Key Marker for Postpartum Suicide Risk
Nutrition/Natural Medicine Update No 284 (April 18, 2023)
with Dr. James Meschino
Topic: Glutathione Status Emerging as a Key Marker for Postpartum Suicide Risk
Source: Frontiers in Psychiatry Journal (Feb. 2023)
A study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry, in February 2023 reported a strong link between glutathione (GSH) status and the degree of suicide risk in women at 18 months postpartum. Specifically, they found that reduced serum GSH levels were significantly lower for those with moderate to high suicide risk than for those without suicide risk. Their findings suggest that GSH may be a potential indicator and/or causative factor among women at risk for suicide.
What is Glutathione? Glutathione is the major brain antioxidant that helps protect brain cells from free radical damage. Because the brain uses about 20% of the body’s oxygen at any given time, it is very prone to free radical damage from what are called oxygen free radicals. And studies show that free radical damage to brain cells contributes to some mental health disorders. Moreover, studies also show that supplementation with natural agents, such as N-acetylcysteine, which raises brain glutathione levels, has been effective in helping to improve cases of major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other psychiatric conditions, according to the authors of the 2023 study in Frontiers of Psychiatry. The bottom line appears to be that lower glutathione levels result in more free radical damage to brain cells, which may damage them in such a way as to alter brain function leading to suicidal thoughts. As well, some studies suggest that glutathione also directly modulates mood to some degree.
The good news is that you can increase your brain glutathione levels by supplementing with a natural agent known as N-Acetylcysteine (NAC). As such, NAC supplementation may be a good adjunctive agent to provide to women with postpartum depression. It certainly has shown positive effects on major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and some other psychiatric problems, as the researchers point out. As glutathione levels decline with age, I personally feel that by age 50 all of us benefit from taking a supplement that helps to maintain more youthful levels of glutathione. The combination supplement that I prefer contains N-Acetylcysteine, with Alpha-Lipoic Acid, L-Glutamine and Silymarin (from Milk thistle). Silymarin is a flavonoid found in the Milk thistle herb. These four natural agents work synergistically to support glutathione status in the body and the brain. The decline in glutathione with age is linked to increases risk for a number of serious health conditions and more rapid aging. So, maintaining more youthful glutathione levels makes good sense as you age. The 2023 study also highlights the fact that glutathione levels are emerging as potentially important indicator of suicide risk in postpartum women, and thus, I believe these women should have their glutathione status evaluated (especially if they feel depressed) and should use a glutathione-raising supplement if necessary to ensure that their glutathione levels are maintained in an optimum range.
I have included the reference for the glutathione and postpartum suicide risk study in the text below.
Da Silva Schmidt P.M. et al. Can glutathione be a biomarker for suicide risk in women 18 months postpartum? J Frontiers of Psychiatry. February 9, 2023. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2023.1142608/full
Medscape: Glutathione as potential biomarker for postpartum suicide: https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/990552?ecd=mkm_ret_230415_mscpmrk-OUS_IntStories&uac=342474MN&impID=5332796&faf=1
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