NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine)
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Cysteine is a semi-essential amino acid.
Cysteine is found in most high protein foods, such as chicken, turkey, yogurt, cheese, eggs, sunflower seeds, and legumes. N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a supplement form of cysteine. Consuming adequate cysteine and NAC is important for a variety of health reasons, including for replenishing the most powerful antioxidant in your body, glutathione. These amino acids also help with chronic respiratory conditions, fertility, and brain health. Here are the top 9 health benefits of NAC.
1. Essential for making the powerful antioxidant glutathione:
NAC is valued primarily for its role in antioxidant production. Along with two other amino acids — glutamine and glycine — NAC is necessary to make and replenish glutathione. Glutathione is one of your body’s most important antioxidants — compounds that help neutralize free radicals that can damage cells and tissues in your body. It’s essential for immune health and for fighting cellular damage. Some researchers believe it may even contribute to longevity (1Trusted Source). Its antioxidant properties be beneficial for numerous other ailments caused by oxidative stress, such as heart disease, infertility, and some mental health conditions (2Trusted Source).
2. Helps with detoxification to prevent or diminish kidney and liver damage:
NAC plays an important role in your body’s detoxification process. It can help prevent side effects of drugs and environmental toxins (3Trusted Source, 4). In fact, doctors regularly give intravenous NAC to people with an acetaminophen overdose to prevent or reduce kidney and liver damage (5Trusted Source). Thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, NAC also has applications for other liver diseases (6Trusted Source).
3. May improve mental health conditions and substance use disorder:
NAC helps regulate levels of glutamate, the most important neurotransmitter in your brain (7Trusted Source). While glutamate is required for normal brain activity, excess glutamate paired with glutathione depletion can cause brain damage. This may contribute to mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and substance use disorder (8Trusted Source, 9, 10).
For people with bipolar disorder and depression, NAC may help decrease symptoms and improve overall ability to function. What’s more, research suggests that it may play a role in treating moderate to severe OCD (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source). Likewise, an animal study suggested that NAC may minimize negative effects of schizophrenia, such as social withdrawal, apathy, and reduced attention spans (13Trusted Source).
NAC supplements can also help decrease withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse in people with cocaine addiction (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source). Additionally, preliminary studies show that NAC may decrease marijuana and nicotine use and cravings (16Trusted Source, 17). Many of these conditions have limited or currently ineffective treatment options. NAC may be an effective aid for people with these conditions (18Trusted Source).
Too Read the other 6 health benefits see aritcle here: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/nac-benefits .