N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is naturally produced in our body from cysteine, a sulfur-containing amino acid. It is the acetylated form of L-cysteine. NAC is also the precursor to glutathione, a natural antioxidant and detoxifier that our body produces. N-acetylcysteine is more easily absorbed than either glutathione or L-cysteine.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
ADHD, autism and many other developmental disorders are thought to be the result of defective detox system and abnormal accumulation of toxic chemicals and heavy metals.
NAC acts as an antioxidant and a free radical-scavenging agent to support the body’s detox system. It protects the liver by preventing the abnormal accumulation of lipids within liver cells due to oxidative stress, and against environmental pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, chloroform, urethane, and certain herbicides and reduces the toxicity of ifosfamide and doxorubicin used in cancer treatment, and alcohol toxicity. NAC is used among other chelating agents to eliminate heavy toxic metals, such as mercury, lead, cadmium and arsenic from the body.
NAC or cysteine participates in the sulfation cycle of the body, acting as a sulfur-donor in phase II of the detoxification system, and methyl donor in the conversion of homocysteine to methionine. NAC has also been show to protect against neuronal death induced by oxidative stress.
OTHER BENEFITS OF NAC
NAC helps improve lung functions by breaking the disulfide bonds in mucoprotein molecules. This results in thinning of mucus in the lungs making it easier to cough up and clear out. This is especially helpful in people with chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), hay fever, cystic fibrosis, fibrosing alveolitis, head and neck cancer, and lung cancer.
It also protects against heart diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes, in patients with severe kidney diseases by reducing the levels of cholesterol, lipoprotein-a, homocysteine. Remember? NAC helps to convert homocysteine into methionine.
NAC is used as an antidote for acetaminophen intoxication by binding to the acetaminophen in the liver, and then excreting it.
N-acetylcysteine is more easily absorbed by the body than either glutathione or L-cysteine. Purified glutathione supplement is not very well absorbed by the body.
Studies show that dosage of up to 40mg/kg of NAC in children is safe.
NAC increases excretion of zinc and other essential minerals. When taking NAC over a long period of time, it is wise to supplement diet with zinc, copper and trace minerals.