Alcohol Glutathione Depletion and How To Fix It

alcohol glutathione depletion

On occasion, we all can enjoy a drink or two, but science is showing that may be negatively effecting your body causing alcohol glutathione depletion.  Let's take a look at what damage this can do to you and how you can fix it.

Does alcohol deplete glutathione?

Yes. Glutathione is one of the most powerful antioxidant found in the body and plays a critical role in detoxification. When you drink too much alcohol, you deplete glutathione levels in your liver, which is exactly where it's needed to break down toxins like alcohol

The liver is one of the primary organs impacted by alcohol consumption. The liver produces glutathione. When your liver is depleted of glutathione, it can't process toxins as efficiently, so they accumulate in the body instead of being eliminated through urine or feces. This build-up causes hangover symptoms like fatigue, headaches, nausea and vomiting.

When alcohol is consumed in excess, the liver can become overwhelmed with its processing capacity. If the liver doesn’t have the nutrients it needs to perform this detoxification process, it can become damaged over time. Which makes you more susceptible to oxidative stress and tissue damage in the liver, as well as in other organs throughout your body.

3 studies show that alcohol glutathione depletion:

  • A 2007 study showed acute alcohol depleted glutathione levels in the liver by over 50%.¹
  • A Spain study found that the levels glutathione reduced up to 83% from alcohol intoxication in the liver, heart, kidney and brain.²
  • In Italy they discovered that chronic alcohol abuse can induce a decrease in the liver's glutathione.³
Like a double-edged sword, glutathione helps alcohol detoxification, and yet at the same time glutathione can be depleted by alcohol consumption.

What are the symptoms of glutathione deficiency?

A glutathione deficiency causes you to feel lethargic, weak, and sick. It can cause your brain to be foggy, as if you were drugged.

The symptoms of glutathione deficiency can be similar symptoms that most people feel on a regular basis. That's because glutathione depletion is not only common, it can be a normal part of aging.

A healthy body depends on having enough glutathione. This antioxidant is particularly important for your liver and drinking alcohol, as it helps to support detoxification processes and protects the organ from damage.

Glutathione is an antioxidant that's found in every cell of the body. It helps protect the body from damage caused by disease and aging. A lack of glutathione causes your cells to age faster than they should. It can also lead to some serious health conditions like chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.

Low levels of glutathione or alcohol glutathione depletion can lead to:

  • Increased oxidative stress (meaning increased risk of damage from free radicals)
  • Compromised immune system
  • Frequent infections
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Allergies
  • Poor detoxification of heavy metals
  • Poor detoxification of environmental toxins
  • Increased inflammation

How to fix alcohol glutathione depletion?

So, how do you fix alcohol glutathione depletion? Basically, by making sure your body has the raw materials it needs to produce more glutathione – specifically, the amino acids cysteine and glycine. This can be achieved with a good diet, or with supplements. 

This can also combat the glutathione depleting effects from alcohol, it's been known as one of the vitamins to help hangover, or just help replace the glutathione lost due to high amounts of alcohol consumption. Glutathione can be a powerful liver aid due to the fact that the liver relies on it for healthy function.

Diet. Your best bet is to eat foods that contain the amino acids cysteine and glycine. Glutathione is made up of these two amino acids, plus another one called glutamate. All three are found in protein-rich foods such as eggs, meat (especially organ meats like liver), fish (especially oily fish like salmon and mackerel), beans, garlic and onions.

Supplements. You can also take N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) or L-Glutathione supplements to help give your body a glutathione boost. These are both high in cysteine; whey protein will also give you some of the other amino acids you need for glutathione production.

Want an easy-to-use glutathione supplement? Try Zaca's recovery chewables that are loaded with bioavailable glutathione.




1. Glutathione Depletion and Recovery After Acute Ethanol Administration in the Aging Mouse
2. Changes in glutathione in acute and chronic alcohol intoxication
3. Effect of alcohol abuse and glutathione administration on the circulating levels of glutathione and on antipyrine metabolism in patients with alcoholic liver cirrhosis