NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine)

What is N-Acetyl cysteine (NAC)?

N-Acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a derivative of the amino acid cysteine and a precursor to glutathione, one of the body’s most important antioxidants. NAC is used as a supplement for its antioxidant properties and its role in detoxification and respiratory health.

What are the Benefits of NAC?

Antioxidant: NAC boosts glutathione levels, protecting cells from oxidative stress and damage.

Detoxification: It supports liver detoxification processes, making it useful in treating acetaminophen toxicity and liver disease.

Respiratory Health: NAC helps break down mucus in the lungs, improving symptoms in conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cystic fibrosis.

Mental Health: Emerging research suggests that NAC can help reduce symptoms of psychiatric disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression.

What Research is on NAC?

Research on NAC includes:

  1. Liver Health: Clinical trials have shown that NAC is effective in treating acetaminophen toxicity and supporting overall liver health.
  2. Respiratory Conditions: Studies indicate that NAC can improve lung function and reduce mucus in respiratory conditions like COPD and cystic fibrosis.
  3. Mental Health: Research suggests that NAC can reduce symptoms of psychiatric disorders, such as OCD, depression, and bipolar disorder, possibly by modulating glutamate levels in the brain.

What is the Mechanism of Action for NAC?

Glutathione Precursor: NAC is converted into cysteine, which is then used to synthesize glutathione, enhancing the body’s antioxidant defenses.

Mucolytic Properties: NAC reduces the viscosity of mucus, making it easier to clear from the lungs.

Neurotransmitter Regulation: NAC may modulate levels of neurotransmitters like glutamate, which is implicated in various psychiatric disorders.

What is the Typical Dosage of NAC?

Typical dosages of NAC range from 600-1,800 mg per day, depending on the condition being treated. For liver support and detoxification, higher doses may be recommended under medical supervision.

What Foods are Rich in NAC?

NAC is not naturally found in foods but is available as a dietary supplement. However, cysteine, the amino acid from which NAC is derived, can be found in high-protein foods such as:

  1. Poultry: Chicken and turkey.
  2. Eggs: Rich in cysteine.
  3. Dairy Products: Milk, cheese, and yogurt.
  4. Legumes: Beans and lentils.

Ershad, Muhammed, et al. “N-Acetylcysteine.” StatPearls, StatPearls Publishing, 29 February 2024.