Oral Contraceptives & Glutathione

Posted On: February 20, 2020
Categories:The Health Series,


By Ross Pelton, RPh, PhD, CCN
Scientific Director, Essential Formulas

When I wrote the Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook, I was amazed to learn that oral contraceptives deplete more nutrients than any other class of drugs. Oral contraceptives are known to deplete Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, vitamin C, the minerals magnesium, selenium, and zinc, the amino acids tyrosine and tryptophan, and coenzyme Q10.

Several studies have reported that oral contraceptives also deplete glutathione.i,ii,iii Women using OCs were found to lower levels of both glutathione and reduced levels of critical glutathione-dependent enzymes such as glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase, and glutathione S-transferase.

Glutathione plays key roles as an antioxidant, and as a regulator of both detoxification and the immune system. Consequently, glutathione deficiency is associated with significant health risks. Many of the most common chronic degenerative diseases are associated with low glutathione levels. For example, reduced plasma glutathione levels have been shown to represent an increased risk for cardiovascular disease,iv And the primary cause of the neurodegeneration that leads to Parkinson’s disease.v Similarly, increased oxidative stress in Alzheimer’s disease has been attributed to decreased levels of glutathione in the brain.vi Low levels of glutathione have also been implicated in the cause and/or progression of cancer, inflammatory, immune, metabolic, and neurodegenerative diseases.vii Glutathione is so important that it is now recognized as a reliable biomarker of aging.viii

BOOSTING GLUTATHIONE LEVELS: I urge all women taking oral contraceptives to take proactive steps to increase their glutathione levels. The most efficient and cost-effective method of boosting glutathione levels is to take one of the Reg’Activ® products from Essential Formulas.

Reg’Activ products contain a unique strain of probiotic bacteria named Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3 that synthesizes glutathione.

Reg’Activ® with Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3: Essential Formulas markets four Reg’Activ formulations: CardioWellness, Immune & Vitality, Detox & Liver Health and Essential ME-3. CardioWellness, Immune & Vitality and Detox & Liver Health each contain several additional ingredients which support either cardiovascular health, immune function, or liver health, and the recommended daily dose of these products is two capsules daily. The Essential ME-3 formulation contains only Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3, and the recommended dose is one capsule daily.

To learn more about the importance of glutathione, I encourage people to read my article titled Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3: A New Era in Glutathione Therapy that appeared in June 2017 issue of Townsend Letter.


i Kowalska K and Milnerowicz H. Pro/antioxidant Status in Young Healthy Women Using Oral Contraceptives. Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. April 2016;43:1-6.
ii Flagg EW, et al. Plasma Total Glutathione in Humans and Its Association With Demographic and Health-Related Factors. Br J Nutr. Nov 1993;70(3):797-808.
iiiKowalska K, et al. The application of Capillary Electrophoresis in the Determination of Glutathione in Healthy Women’s Blood. J Chromatogr Sci. Feb 2015;53(2):353-359.
iv Shimizu H, et al. Relationship between plasma glutathione levels and cardiovascular disease in a defined population. Stroke. 2004;35:2072-2077.
v Chinta SJ, et al. Inducible alterations of glutathione levels in adult dopaminergic midbrain neurons results in nigrostriatal degeneration. J Neurosci. 19 Dec 2007;27(51):13997-14006.
vi Saharan S, Mandal PK. The emerging role of glutathione in Alzheimer’s disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 2014;40(3):519-29.
vii Ballatori N., et al. Glutathione dysregulation and the etiology and progression of human diseases. Biol Chem. 2009 Mar;390(3):191-214.
viii Sastre J et al. Glutathione, oxidative stress, and aging. AGE. Oct 1996;19(4): 129-139.