This week we continue the discussion about detoxification and liver function. One cannot have a discussion about detoxification without writing about glutathione, of course.

Glutathione is likely the most important, most rate-limiting nutrient in the liver detoxification pathways. When exposure to toxins is high, Phase I detoxification uses up all the glutathione, and Phase II processes dependent on glutathione come to a screeching halt. However, glutathione is non-essential nutrient – as in, it does not have to be obtained via food. Instead,  it is made in the body from the amino acids cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine. Under usual health circumstances in which a person consumes a varied diet that includes many diverse sources of protein, processes that depend on glutathione generally have a good supply of this critical antioxidant. The same goes for N-acetyl cysteine. If an orthomolecular practitioner deems a need for additional intake, more glutathione and NAC are generally acquired by supplement.

When the Phase 1 breakdown enzymes have done their work, some toxic end products may still remain. They must be shunted to the Phase 2 assembly line in order to make them safer and easier for the body to use. Picture Phase 2 like a series of seven assembly lines working simultaneously, extending outwards from a common starting point. The seven lines, or processes are:  glutathione conjugation, amino acid conjugation, methylation, sulfation, sulfoxidation, acetylation and glucuronidation, and they all add on one specific new molecule (i.e. an amino group, a methyl group, a sulfur group, etc.) to the final product that is either used by the body or excreted.

Studies have shown that each of the above listed Phase 2 detoxification processes are supported by specific nutrients. Here is a summary of that research:

Phase 2 Process

glutathione conjugation
amino acid conjugation
sulfation & sulfoxidation

Nutrients that Support Phase 2

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe), milk thistle, vitamin C
Folic acid, methionine, choline, B12
Thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin C
Calcium-d-glucurate, milk thistle

If you’d like a personal management plan for supporting your body’s detoxification, schedule an appointment with one of the practitioners at MIM. We have testing and diet therapy plans available for you. Phone (905)294-2335 or email