N-Acetyl Cysteine, or more commonly NAC is a more stable supplement form of sulfur amino acid L-cysteine. In NAC, L-cysteine amino acid is bound to an acetyl group for better assimilation and digestion. NAC is considered to be a potent antioxidant since it is highly effective for raising gluthatione levels. Gluthatione on the other hand is said to be the most important antioxidant produced by the body. Without adequate gluthatione levels, the cells cannot function properly and our immune system becomes weakened. Gluthatione also plays important role in detoxifying substances like heavy metals from the body. Taking gluthatione in supplement form is not an effective way to raise gluthatione levels, since pills pass through the digestive systems and little, if any gluthatione is absorbed. The body will produce gluthatione when the necessary precursors are provided. NAC is an excellent precursor for gluthatione as it can effectively deliver cysteine in to the cells so they can produce gluthatione. Gluthatione itself also works as a precursor for gluthatione peroxidase, one of the most important antioxidant enzymes in the body.
NAC can generally be used for many different reasons. Studies have shown that NAC can be beneficial in the treatment of various lung conditions such as asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, tuberculosis and pneumonia. NAC can also improve functions of numerous organs and boost immunity. In addition research suggests that NAC has neuroprotective properties and can decrease the symptoms of the common cold and influenza.
The efficiency of NAC against common cold has not been studied thoroughly. However there are studies confirming the efficiency of NAC against influenza. Even though the flu and common cold are caused by different viruses, they share many of the same symptoms like coughs, sore throat and fever. The remedies and treatments that work for one disease do not always work for other. In NAC’s case many people have however found it to be a beneficial remedy also for common cold. One of the facts supporting the use of NAC as a cold remedy is that it is an effective cough remedy. NAC helps break down mucus in the body, thus supporting upper respiratory health. Some doctors are reporting that 1000 mg of NAC three times a day lessens the effects of sinus congestion, a condition often related to common cold.
There are numerous foods that contain some NAC but in general food is not considered as significant source for NAC. Protein-rich foods such as meat, seafood, chicken or turkey are one of the better food sources for NAC. Eggs and whole grains are also quite good option for obtaining NAC from food.
NAC supplements are safe, inexpensive and easily available in most health food and vitamin stores. Optimal levels for NAC intake have not been established, typical doses used in clinical studies vary from 250 mg to 1500 mg a day.Adverse effects such as nausea and vomiting caused by NAC are rare and usually only related to higher doses. Dosages of 1200 mg twice a day have in some cases shown mild gastrointestinal discomfort. NAC may interact with patients taking nitroglycerin. NAC is generally considered to be safe for pregnant and nursing women. NAC is able to cross the placenta but so far there is no evidence linking it with harm to the unborn child or mother. However NAC should be used by pregnant women only when clearly needed. Generally it is recommendable that you consult your doctor before taking NAC.