N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) is a metabolite of the sulfur-containing amino acid, Cysteine. Cysteine is found in high protein foods, N-Acetyl Cysteine is not. N-Acetyl Cysteine is produced within the human body. Cysteine plays a role in the sulfation cycle, acting as a sulfur donor in phase II detoxification and as a methyl donor in the conversion of homocysteine to methionine. Cysteine also helps synthesize glutathione, one of the body's most important natural antioxidants and detoxifiers. N-Acetyl-Cysteine is the acetylated form of L-Cysteine.
N-Acetyl Cysteine is rapidly metabolized to intracellular glutathione. Glutathione acts as a powerful antioxidant in the body. Glutathione also detoxifies chemicals into less harmful compounds. N-Acetyl Cysteine also protects the body from acetaminophen toxicity and is used in hospitals for patients with acetaminophen poisoning. It has also been shown to be effective at treating liver failure from other causes as well.
Heavy metals like lead, mercury and arsenic are detoxified and removed from the body by N-Acetyl Cysteine . It also increases the excretion of zinc and other essential minerals when taken over an extended period. It is therefore necessary to supplement zinc, copper and other trace minerals when taking N-Acetyl Cysteine.
Glutathione is known to aid in the transport of nutrients to lymphocytes and phagocytes, two major classes of immune cells, and to protect cell membranes. While purified glutathione is available as a dietary supplement, absorption is low, and N-Acetyl Cysteine is thought to be a better method of boosting cellular glutathione levels. N-Acetyl Cysteine is being investigated as a treatment for AIDS.
N-Acetyl Cysteine cleaves disulfide bonds by converting them to two sulfhydryl groups. This action results in the breakup of mucoproteins in lung mucus, reducing their chain lengths and thinning the mucus, improving conditions such as bronchitis and flu. Double-blind research has found that N-Acetyl Cysteine supplements improved symptoms and prevented recurrences in people with chronic bronchitis. N-Acetyl Cysteine at a dosage of 1,200 mg per day helps to prevent Influenza infection, reduces the symptoms of existing Influenza infection and reduces the duration of Influenza infections.
N-Acetyl Cysteine has been shown to reduce the proliferation of certain cells lining the colon and may reduce the risk of colon cancer in people with recurrent polyps in the colon. Its action as an antioxidant and a glutathione precursor may also contribute to a protective effect against cancer.
When taking N-acetyl cysteine it is recommended that two to three times as much vitamin C be taken at the same time. Failure to do so may result in more harm than good from taking this product because of the prolonged presence of the oxidized form of L-Cysteine. The vitamin C also helps keep the glutathione that is produced from the Cysteine in its reduced form so that it can continue acting as an antioxidant.
Typical dosage recommendations are in the range of 250-1500mg of NAC daily for the majority of therapeutic benefits
NAC is considered safe for consumption in its therapeutic dosage ranges. Individual reactions may vary and anyone experiencing adverse symptoms while taking N-Acetyl Cysteine should discontinue it.