What is N Acetyl Cysteine?

November 12, 2012

What is N Acetyl Cysteine?

N Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) is used in the detoxification process in the human body. It’s an amino acid containing sulfur and is found in protein. N Acetyl Cysteine is contained in protein and the body utilizes it when removing toxins. This amino acid works within the detoxification process by converting homocysteine to methionine and also helps antioxidants and detoxifiers within the body. It does this by causing glutathione to synthesize. An outcome of synthezising the glutathione is that harmful chemicals in the body are detoxified into compounds which cause less damage. NAC is the acetylated form of L-Cysteine. NAC gives protection from acetaminophen poison and is given to patients in hospitals who suffer from this. It is also used in effective treatment of liver failure due to other causes. NAC removes heavy metals from the body such as arsenic, mercury and lead. Mineral and zinc supplements should be taken if NAC is taken over a long period because the tendency to remove these minerals from the body increases.

Immune System

Glutathion protects cell membranes and helps to move nutrients to the two major categories of immune cells such as phagocytes and lymphocytes. Glutathione in a purified form can be used as a diet supplement but the absorption is low. N Acetyl Cysteine is considered to be a good alternative to raise the glutathione levels at a cellular level and its use in treating AIDS patients is currently being looked at.

Breaking up Mucus

Using NAC helps to divide the disulfide bonds by changing them into two groups of sulfhydryl. The mucoproteins break up the lung mucus. This reduces the chain lengths and thins the mucus. Flu and bronchitis symptoms improve. ‘Double-blind’ research was carried out on patients who suffered with chronic bronchitis and had taken NAC supplements. The results showed the symptoms improved and recurrences of patients with chronic bronchitis were prevented. Using a dose of 1200 mg once a day may prevent symptoms of influenza. The length of time you will suffer from an influenza infection may also be reduced.


N Acetyl Cysteine research has shown the production of particular cells which line the colon may be reduced. There may be a reduced risk of cancer of the colon for patients who suffer from persistent colon polyps and use NAC.


It has been recommended to patients taking N Acetyl Cysteine to increase their Vitamin C intake, up to three times more than the NAC. Vitamin C helps the glutathione (this is made from the reduced form of Cysteine) keep working as an antioxidant. If the patient does not take Vitamin C harm may be caused because of the presence of L-Cysteine in oxidized form.


To achieve the therapeutic benefits of N Acetyl Cysteine, recommended dosage is within the 250 – 1500mg range per day.


Taking N Acetyl Cysteine is seen as safe when taken as 600mg capsules. Should any adverse reactions or symptoms be experienced, stop taking it.

As well as being a stimulator involved in the restoration of glutathione it is also involved in the synthesis of glutathione. It does this by working at the cellular level.

NAC is commonly used in its amino acid format L-cysteine because it has a greater effect when being absorbed. Acting as a sulfur donor L-cycsteine is fully involved in the sulfation cycle. Enhancing the immune function NAC works as a detoxifier by converting homocysteine to methionine as part of the methol donor conversion. It does this by slowing down the liver’s ability to hold on to lipids by reducing oxidative stress developing. This in turn stops TNF-alpha 23 increasing. It is also used in bronchial health issues.


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