N-Acetyl Cysteine (C5H9NO3S) is an L-Cysteine derivative that is more stable than L-Cysteine. While L-Cysteine is readily found in the diet - mostly from lean meat sources, NAC is not present in the diet and must be obtained via dietary supplementation.
As an L-Cysteine derivative, NAC is more water soluble, and therefore more bioavailable than regular L-Cysteine.
N-Acetyl Cysteine is also known as NAC and Acetylcysteine.
What does it do and what scientific studies give evidence to support this?
Research has established that NAC exerts powerful antioxidant effects. In this role, NAC scavenges the body for, and neutralizes, harmful free radicals that can cause oxidative damage to muscle tissue, bodily organs, and DNA. As an antioxidant it may reduce oxidative stress. NAC may also boost immune system function by acting as a glutathione pre-cursor.
In addition to protecting the body from oxidative damage resulting from normal metabolism and environmental toxins, NAC has shown positive effects on liver function, protecting the liver from heavy metals like lead and mercury.
Who needs it and what are some symptoms of deficiency?
NAC is not an essential nutrient and no symptoms of deficiency exist.
Healthy adults can benefit from using NAC as a dietary supplement.
Naturally training athletes can benefit from supplemental use of NAC because of its ability to protect the immune system from harmful oxidants that result from environmental pollution, regular metabolic functions and intense exercise.
How much should be taken? Are there any side effects?
Adhere to label directions.
Side effects that can occur with NAC use at high doses include nausea, headache, vomiting, dizziness, and abdominal pain. Research has shown that NAC can function as an oxidant if taken at high doses.
NAC may lead to the excretion of zinc and copper - metals required for proper hormone function, so be sure to supplement with these minerals if you use NAC.
NAC tolerance is generally excellent in most users and NAC is not known to be contraindicated with any dietary supplements or prescription drug products.