12. How is Immunocal different from other undenatured whey proteins?

Immunocal versus other undenatured whey proteins – it is one of the most frequently asked questions. How can Immunocal be compared to other whey proteins on the market? There are dozens of them nowadays, and cheaper too. But cheaper does not mean better, especially if immune health is at stake. So, why is Immunocal better? 

If you compare Immunocal with denatured (overly processed and high-heat pasteurized) whey proteins, there is only one difference – Immunocal is alive and active as a source of glutathione precursors, while denatured whey proteins are dead, with cysteine molecules broken down and useless for raising glutathione. Denatured whey proteins are only good as a source of protein in training or body-building. 

Now, let’s compare Immunocal versus other undenatured whey proteins.


Nutritional Value versus Biological Property

First of all, it is important to understand that the product’s nutritional value and its biological property are unrelated. Even though a company may have a product that possesses all the protein fractions and has undenatured cysteine content, this does not mean that it also possesses the same biological property of raising glutathione as Immunocal does. For instance, egg white’s composition is similar to whey proteins but eggs do not raise glutathione levels. The ONLY way to demonstrate that this biological property exits in a product is to examine clinical outcomes. 

As the manufacturer of Immunocal, Immunotec Inc., has done and is continuing to do (there are ongoing trials at the moment), you have to set up a formalized clinical trial and show statistical significance against a set of biological end points to prove a product’s efficacy. Placebo-controlled double-blind study is a gold standard in scientific research. None other undenatured whey protein (that I am aware of) has any clinical trials of any kind confirming its biological property of raising glutathione. Only isolated personal testimonials may be available.

If you read other products’ advertising carefully, you will notice that they do not state anywhere that such undenatured whey protein raises glutathione, only that “it plays a role in antioxidant production”, or  “may positively affect immune function”, or “may improve liver function”, etc. Fruit and veggies do that too, by the way. It is because the manufacturers cannot claim that their product raises glutathione – their formula has not been scientifically proven to do that.

Immunocal is a unique formulation developed by Dr. Gustavo Bounous who was the first scientist in the world to discover and describe the above-mentioned biological property of whey proteins almost 35 years ago. It was he and his team of researchers who went on to develop Immunocal. Yes, it has that many years of clinical research behind it and over 30 clinical trials carried out using none other whey protein but Immunocal, which clearly demonstrate that this biological property does exist in it. 

Immunocal holds patents that protect not only its formulation and unique manufacturing process, but also define its method of use as immune system booster – it means that Immunocal has been clinically proven and allowed to claim that it raises and maintains glutathione levels. None other undenatured whey protein can claim that unless it was successfully used in trials and proven to do so.

Concentrates versus Isolates

Most other undenatured whey proteins are concentrates with anywhere between 70-80% protein content, while Immunocal is a whey isolate with 90% whey protein content.

This means that the concentration of immuno-enhancing protein components is higher in Immunocal (assuming they are bioactive in other products).  

These components are immunoglobulin IgG1, beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, serum albumin and lactoferrin. The latter two components are the highest of them all in bonded cysteine and glutamylcysteine and thus contribute the most to the immuno-enhancing effect of undenatured whey protein. Research indicates that these levels should be at or more than 25% (for serum albumin) and 10% (for immunoglobulins) to observe immuno-enhancing effect from dietary whey proteins (this info and numbers are taken from Immunocal’s patents).



This leads us to another comparison point - the product’s potency. Let’s say another undenatured whey protein has some of the said biological property. How much of this product would you have to take to have a similar effect as Immunocal? This issue becomes a math question – maybe 3-6 or more times serving size vs. 1 pack of Immunocal? Since there are likely no studies with this other product, it is just a guess.


Other ingredients

Being a concentrate, other product also contains lactose, fat and cholesterol that are not removed completely. The amounts are small but can pose a challenge for lactose-intolerant people and those on a strict diet.  

Immunocal is fat and cholesterol free and has less than 1% lactose which practically makes it lactose free. It is well tolerated by lactose intolerant people. 

Often times other ingredients are added to undenatured whey proteins  – vanilla or chocolate flavors, sugars, vitamins and minerals, other fillers – which further reduce biological value of the product (again, if there is any in the first place). Immunocal has only one ingredient – undenatured whey protein isolate, that’s it. 

Also, other undenatured whey proteins are usually processed additionally so that they dissolve quickly, pretty much like instant coffee. This instantizing process denatures the product to a certain degree. Immunocal does not rehydrate easily because it is not processed in such a damaging way. There is a 2-step method of mixing Immunocal with liquids. It takes about 1 minute instead of 10 seconds.


Packaging to minimize denaturation

One more observation is the packaging. It may not seem that important, but it is. All other undenatured whey proteins come in tubs of a month’s supply. It means that the powder will be exposed several times a day to moisture, air contaminants and most importantly – oxygen, reducing its supposed biological property. How much of this biological property is left after two weeks of use or at the end of the month?  

Each 10g serving of Immunocal is individually packaged into foil pouches preventing exposure to moisture, bacteria and oxygen in the unused portion. Immunocal is produced and packaged under stringent conditions in an oxygen free environment where oxygen is replaced by nitrogen to eliminate the risk of oxidation and denaturation. 


19 years since the introduction of Immunocal to the market in 1996, there are still no substitutes for it. Do not settle for imitations.

Return to Immunocal FAQ 



Further reading:

What is Immunocal?

Undenatured Whey Protein

Researchers behind Immunocal

Best books on Glutathione

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