What is G6PD Deficiency?

G6PD deficiency is an inherited genetic disorder which occurs when the body doesn't have enough of an enzyme called glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD). G6PD is known as a “housekeeping enzyme” because it produces two very important antioxidants that protect our red blood cells from damage; namely nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) and Reduced Glutathione (GSH).

Therefore, a G6PD deficient person is not only deficient in just the G6PD enzyme, but also deficient in the byproducts NADPH and GSH.

It is this lack of NADPH and GSH that causes most of the physical manifestations of G6PD Deficiency. These antioxidants are needed by the whole body, but especially needed by the red blood cells to protect against all of the daily toxins we are exposed to, as well as some medications, viruses, bacteria and certain problematic foods such as fava beans.

Without enough G6PD, NADPH and GSH to protect them, the red blood cells break apart. This is called hemolysis. When many red blood cells are destroyed, a person can develop hemolytic anemia. This can happen either rapidly, or slowly. Rapid hemolysis is also called a “hemolytic crisis,” and can feel a lot like an allergic reaction - with dizziness, rapid heartrate, and flushed or warm skin. Slow hemolysis is also called “chronic hemolysis” and can manifest as increased fatigue over time, or other chronic health issues.