Unless you are living under a rock, you have probably heard of the supplement N-Acetyl-Cysteine or NAC for short. It's shown up recently as being very helpful in people who have been exposed to certain viruses and are trying to recover.
But, what exactly does this supplement do and why would you consider taking it... Here are a few of the most important functions of NAC (1)
1) Helps make and replenish Glutathione. Glutathione is your body's "master antioxidant" and is very important to help decrease oxidative damage that occurs from free radicals that are created as your body performs it's many cellular activities and detoxifies harmful substances.
You can not directly supplement with Glutathione, so you are left taking the building blocks, like NAC to help ensure you created adequate levels.
2) Helps supports detoxification. NAC helps ensure that the Kidneys and liver are able to properly detoxify harmful substances from your body properly.
3) Helps regulate glutamate levels. Glutamate is a very powerful neurotransmitter or brain chemical. It has important ramifications on mental health and if out of balance can be involved with addictive behaviors and decreased brain health.
4) Respiratory considerations of NAC include decreasing inflammation in lung tissue, and loosening mucous like an expectorant. These have been shown to have positive impacts on conditions like asthma, and chronic bronchitis.
5) Fertility implications are also a consideration in the supplementing of NAC. In males, decreased antioxidant levels (like Glutathione) have been shown to negatively impact sperm health. NAC has been shown in studies to help reverse this pattern. In women, anovulatory issues like those associated with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) have been shown to respond favorably to increased NAC supplementation.
6) NAC is associated with decreased inflammation levels in fat cells, and improved insulin sensitivity.
7) Decreased oxidative damage to the heart tissue. By lowering the exposure to free radical damage, NAC may help protect the heart from this type of damage.
8) Perhaps the benefit that most of us have heard of recently is the immune boost that has been reported by users of NAC. If you have read the list of benefits this far, it's easy to understand how decreasing inflammation, helping protect against oxidative damage and helping improve detoxification can all benefit our immune system.
So, Do I need to take NAC or can I get it in my diet. The true answer is you probably need to be doing both. NAC is converted from the Amino acid Cysteine. So ensuring your diet contains enough protein and specifically, cysteine is important. High cysteine foods include "pork, beef, chicken, fish, lentils, oatmeal, eggs, low-fat yogurt, sunflower seeds, and cheese" (2) Cysteine is a non-essential amino acid and so it requires adequate levels of B6 and B12, which are often deficient in people. So, many people will elect to take supplemental NAC. In an ideal world, people would look at micronutrient testing prior to creating a supplement plan so they make sure to address their specific needs. I do this very often with people and am happy to help with that if you are interested.
So, what is the dosage on NAC. Most people do well with 600-1800 mg per day.
What if you are having a hard time locating a source of NAC? There is an effort underway that suggests that NAC is a drug and not a supplement. Because of this, several sources have decided not to sell this. At the time of this writing, I am still able to source a very high quality source of NAC and I am happy to be of assistance however I can. You can reach out to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the link below to schedule a free time to chat if you have questions.
I hope you have found this helpful! If you or someone you know has an issue with your health and would like to connect to see if I can help, please feel free to use this link to schedule a free 15 minute call and I'll do my best to create a plan of action to get you the results you are looking for.
To your health!