N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) is a metabolite of the non-essential amino acid cysteine. Cysteine is found in some foods and is produced in the body from the amino acid methionine. This sulfur containing cysteine derivative aids in stabilising protein structures involved in different bodily processes. Within the body, NAC is converted to intracellular glutathione, the body’s premier antioxidant. Antioxidants are substances known to produce anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting, and longevity effects.
NAC is available both as prescription medications and nutritional supplements. Common trade names for N-Acetyl Cysteine include Mucolysin, Mucomyst, Asist, Acetadote, and Parvolex. N-Acetyl Cysteine supplements are available in 250-1500 mg capsules and pills, but the most common dosage is 500 mg. High Quality N-Acetyl Cysteine supplements are also taken as an alternative to glutathione supplements because they are cheaper and easily absorbed by the body.
N-Acetyl Cysteine Benefits
- N-Acetyl Cysteine is used as treatment for respiratory disorders related to thick mucus such as bronchitis, bronchiectasis, emphysema, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and cystic fibrosis. The mucolytic properties of N-Acetyl Cysteine are due to its ability to liquefy disulfide bonds.
- Intravenous N-Acetyl Cysteine is used to counteract acetaminophen (Tylenol) overdose. Acetaminophen is the most commonly used among pain relievers and is an over the counter medication. Symptoms of acetaminophen overdose include nausea, vomiting, poor apetite, and abdominal pain. Acute cases of Acetaminophen overdose can lead to liver damage, kidney failure, and even death.
- N-Acetyl Cysteine can prevent kidney damage induced by contrast dye injections. Doctors prescribe prophylactic doses of NAC following diagnostic imaging scans that uses high-contrast dyes.
- N-Acetyl Cysteine supplements are considered cheaper alternative for glutathione supplements. NAC supplements help replenish the body’s supply of glutathione, which usually decreases by age. Health problems induced by glutathione deficiency include liver cirrhosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Fibromyalgia, and Multiple sclerosis among others.
- N-Acetyl Cysteine is an immune booster. It has been shown to increase the production of T4 WBCs for stronger immune defenses. NAC’s immune modulating effects are further enhanced by glutathione’s ability to deliver nutrients to immune cells.
- N-Acetyl Cysteine supplements help detoxify heavy metals like arsenic, lead, and mercury.
N-Acetyl Cysteine Side Effects
When used within its therapeutic dosage, N-Acetyl Cysteine medications and N-Acetyl Cysteine supplements are safe. Some reported mild gastrointestinal side effects include nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, abdominal pain, dizziness, and headaches. Although uncommon, severe N-Acetyl Cysteine side effects include anaphylaxis, asthma, and hypotension.