NAC (n-Acetyl cysteine): What is it Really?
Sep. 6, 2021
n-Acetyl Cysteine is quite a mouthful, so we commonly refer to it as NAC. It’s a supplement form of cysteine, a semi-essential amino acid. It is semi-essential because your body produces it from other amino acids, mainly methionine and serine, but it becomes essential when your dietary intake is low on these.
Cysteine can be found in common high-protein foods, like turkey, chicken, yogurt, legumes, eggs, and sunflower seeds. It is also important as it helps to replenish glutathione, which is a powerful antioxidant. These amino acids also help with fertility, brain health, and respiratory conditions.
Here are the five most common uses:
1 – Making Glutathione
Glutathione is arguably the body’s most powerful antioxidant and so has many benefits. Its properties and benefits include neutralizing free radicals, fighting cell damage, and may contribute to longevity. It is also good for combating ailments caused by oxidative stress, including heart disease, infertility, and some psychiatric conditions.
2 – Detoxing
NAC is key to the body’s detoxification process. It’s been effective in preventing side effects of drugs and environmental toxins and doctors regularly use it to reduce or even prevent, kidney damage in patients with acetaminophen overdoses.
3 – Psychiatric Disorders
Glutamate is needed for normal brain activity, but when there is an excess combined with glutathione depletion, brain damage becomes a risk. This could contribute towards mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, OCD, bipolar disorder, and addictive behavior. NAC helps regulate glutamate, and studies have shown that it can minimize the effects of schizophrenia such as apathy, social withdrawal, and reduced attention spans.
4 – Relief from Respiratory Conditions
As mentioned before, NAC acts as an expectorant, loosening mucus in the air passages. It also reduces inflammation in the bronchial tubes and lung tissue. As a supplement, NAC has been used to improve bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, exacerbations, and lung decline.
5 – Fertility
Particularly in male infertility, studies have suggested that NAC, when combined with surgery and other bespoke supplements can have remarkable results often improving semen quality over a small period of time.
A common contributor to male infertility is varicocele – this is a condition caused by the veins inside the scrotum becoming enlarged due to free radical damage. NAC can help your body fight these free radicals too.
NAC Holds Powerful Health Benefits
NAC has many benefits and is a viable supplement to your health regimen. It has been used commonly in medicine since the ’60s and so has a known safety history. This means it is likely safe for you to use as a bespoke supplement. That said, there could be side effects such as nausea, constipation or diarrhea, and chest tightness. It’s always important to consult your GP before, especially when you have pre-existing conditions or are taking other medications.
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