Cysteine is a semi-essential amino acid. It is considered semi-essential because your body can produce it from other amino acids, as for instance serine and methionine. It turns out to be essential only when dietary consumption of serine and methionine is less.
Cysteine is found in most high protein foods, such as chicken, turkey, eggs, cheese, yogurt, legumes, and sunflower seeds.
N-acetyl Cysteine (NAC) is a supplement form of cysteine. Consuming sufficient NAC is significant for diverse health reasons, including for restocking the most potent antioxidant in your body, glutathione. NAC also helps with fertility, chronic respiratory conditions, and mental health.
How Does NAC Work?
NAC has cytoprotective effects, which work through anti-inflammatory and antioxidant mechanisms. On the antioxidant side, though the NAC molecule itself has the efficiency scavenge Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), the antioxidant effects of NAC in your body mainly happen through increasing glutathione levels and other circumstantial mechanisms.
The anti-inflammatory effects of NAC are indirect and work through its antioxidant activity, which in turn prevents the pro-inflammatory imitative factor NFkB.
Proven Health Benefits
Necessary for Producing Glutathione
NAC is valued initially for its role in antioxidant production. Along with two other amino acids – glutamine and glycine – NAC is essential to make and restock glutathione.
Glutathione is one of your body’s most vital antioxidants – compounds that help neutralize free radicals that can harm tissues and cells in your body. It’s essential for immune health and for fighting cellular damage. Some researchers believe it may even contribute to your long life.
Assists with Detoxification to Prevent Liver and Kidney Damage
NAC plays a significant part in your body’s detoxification procedure. It can help prevent side effects of environmental toxins and drugs.In fact, doctors regularly give intravenous NAC to people with an acetaminophen overdose to reduce or prevent liver and kidney damage. NAC also has uses for other liver disorders too.
May Improve Mental Health Conditions
NAC helps regulate levels of glutamate, the most vital neurotransmitter in your brain. While glutamate is necessary for normal brain activity, excess glutamate paired with glutathione reduction can cause brain damage. This may lead to mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), schizophrenia, and substance use disorder.
For people with depression and bipolar disorder, NAC may help decrease symptoms and enhance overall ability to function. What’s more, researchers suggest that it may play a role in treating moderate to severe OCD.
Similarly, a study suggested that NAC may reduce negative effects of schizophrenia, such as apathy, social withdrawal, and reduced attention spans. NAC supplements can also help prevent relapse and reduce withdrawal syndromes in people with cocaine addiction. Moreover, preparative researches show that NAC may lessen nicotine and marijuana cravings and use.
Helps Relieve Symptoms of Respiratory Conditions
NAC can aid symptoms of respiratory disorders by acting as an antioxidant, loosening mucus in your air passageways. As an antioxidant, NAC helps replenish glutathione levels in your lungs and decreases inflammation in your lung tissue and bronchial tubes.
People with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) experience inflammation of lung tissue and long term oxidative damage, which causes airways to compress, leading to coughing and shortness of breath. NAC supplements have been used to improve COPD sharpness, symptoms, and lung decline. A review of multiple studies found that 600 mg of NAC twice a day potentially improved lung function and symptoms in those with persistent COPD and that higher doses were more beneficial than lower ones.
People with stable bronchitis can also benefit from NAC. Bronchitis occurs when the mucous membranes in your lungs’ bronchial passageways swell, become inflamed, and shut off airways to your lungs. By boosting glutathione levels and thinning mucus in your bronchial tubes, NAC may help reduce the frequency and severity of coughing, wheezing, and respiratory attacks.
In addition to aiding bronchitis and COPD, NAC may improve other respiratory tract and lung conditions, such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary fibrosis – as well as symptoms of sinus and nasal congestion due to infections or allergies.
May Improve Fertility in Both Women and Men
Approximately 16% of all couples trying to conceive are affected by infertility. In almost half of these cases, male infertility is the primary contributing factor. Many male infertility conditions increase when antioxidant levels are insufficient to address free radical formation in the reproductive system. The oxidative stress can cause reduced fertility and cell death.
In most cases, NAC has been proven to enhance male fertility. One issue that contributes to male infertility is varicocele – when veins inside the scrotum become enlarged as a consequence of free radical damage. Surgery is the initial treatment. In one research, 30 men with variocele received 600 mg of NAC per day for 4 months after surgery. NAC improved semen purity and partner pregnancy rate by 25%.
An older study in 465 men with infertility found that supplementing with 600 mg of NAC and 200 mg of selenium for 24 weeks improved semen quality. Researchers suggested that this combined supplement should be considered as a medication for male infertility.
Moreover, NAC may improve fertility in women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) by inciting or initiating the ovulation cycle.
May Stabilize Blood Sugar
Obesity and high blood sugar contribute to inflammation in fat tissue. This can lead to destruction or damage of insulin receptors and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Studies show that NAC may stabilize blood sugar by reducing inflammation in fat cells and thereby improving insulin resistance.
May Reduce Heart Disease
Oxidative damage to heart tissue often leads to heart disease, causing heart attacks, strokes, and other serious conditions. NAC may reduce heart disease risk by reducing oxidative damage to tissues in your heart.
NAC has also been shown to increase nitric oxide production, which helps veins dilate and enhances blood flow. This expresses blood transit back to your heart and can decrease your risk of heart attacks. Additionally, in an older test-tube study, when mixed with green tea, NAC appeared to reduce damage from oxidized LDL (bad) cholesterol, another contributor to heart disease.
There is no appointed dietary suggestion for cysteine because your body can already produce small amounts. For your body to make the amino acid cysteine, you need sufficient amounts of vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folate. These nutrients can be found in bananas, beans, spinach, salmon, and tuna.
While most protein rich foods contain cysteine, some people choose to supplement with NAC to increase their cysteine intake. NAC has low bioavailability as an oral supplement, meaning that your body does not absorb it well. The operable daily NAC supplement dosage recommendation is 600-1800 mg. it can be fulfilled intravenously or taken orally, as an aerosol spray or in powder or liquid form.
NAC plays various significant roles in human health which make NAC supplements a stable treatment option for multiple health conditions. You should consult your doctor to find out whether NAC may be beneficial to your health.