Health Benefits of NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine) Supplement
Have you heard of N-Acetyl Cysteine, or NAC, before? It’s become quite a popular supplement today. In fact, many healthcare professionals have turned to NAC as a key player in overcoming a variety of health issues, ranging from promoting healthy antioxidant and immunity levels and supporting the liver to helping lessen the severity of certain respiratory issues.
If you’re curious about NAC and how it may be a great new addition to your health regimen, keep reading. In this article we’ll breakdown what NAC is, the main health benefits and any potential side effects or risks.
What is NAC?
N-Acetyl Cysteine is the supplemental form of cysteine, which is an amino acid that allows the body to create and use beneficial antioxidants. In fact, NAC in combination with two other amino acids — glutamine and glycine — form the precursors for the creation of glutathione in the body, which is our most powerful and abundant antioxidant.
Glutathione helps us fight off oxidative stress and inflammation by neutralizing something called free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable atoms that damage our cells and can cause unwanted illness and accelerated aging. Over time, these free radicals cause oxidative stress and open the door for inflammation-derived health issues like cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, cancer, and degenerative neurological disorders like bipolar disorder, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
NAC is often referred to as a “semi-essential amino acid’ because unlike our 9 essential amino acids, the body only requires this occasionally or for providing very specific health benefits. The body can make NAC from the amino acids methionine and serine, which is another reason why daily supplementation isn’t always necessary.
What are NAC’s Health Benefits?
In addition to helping to support the body’s antioxidant pathways, NAC has a handful of other health benefits that we’ll cover below.
1. Promotes normal insulin levels in those with PCOS. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a disease that affects the hormonal system’s endocrine glands in 5-10% of women of childbearing age. PCOS is one of the most common causes of anovulatory infertility and can cause painful and irregular periods with severe premenstrual symptoms (PMS). Studies show that women with PCOS are at a higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome including obesity, hypertension and glucose intolerance, leading to raised insulin levels. NAC has been shown to have insulin-sensitizing properties. By restoring levels of the antioxidant glutathione, NAC has a therapeutic effect on blood sugar by promoting stable insulin levels in PCOS patients with hyperinsulinemia.
2. Reduces risk of premature birth and miscarriage. Bacterial vaginosis, a vaginal bacterial infection, has been connected to an increased risk for preterm delivery and low birth weight in pregnant women. NAC’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits can promote positive pregnant and birth outcomes in women suffering from vaginal infections who are susceptible to preterm labor. Safe for both fetus and mother, a dosage of 0.6 grams of NAC can be taken daily with progesterone following week 16 of pregnancy to protect against preterm birth recurrence. Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) is defined as having 2 or more miscarriages, it’s estimated that about 50-60% of RPL is a result of oxidative stress. NAC has also been shown to benefit women who have experienced RPL by reducing oxidative stress. NAC combined with folic acid supplementation has resulted in prolongation of a living pregnancy up to 20 weeks, leading to an increase in take-home baby rates.
3. Supports liver and kidney function. Acetaminophen is a drug used to treat moderate pain and is usually bought over-the-counter. Unfortunately, acetaminophen toxicity is a common cause of drug-induced hepatotoxicity, or chemical-driven liver damage, in children and adults. This also places unwanted stress on the kidneys and impairs our detoxification pathways. NAC can counteract this toxicity by supporting glutathione levels, reducing N-Acetyl-p-benzoquinoneimine, a potent oxidative metabolite of acetaminophen, and promoting hepatoprotective actions related to its antioxidant properties. Liver cancer is one of the most life threatening conditions worldwide with no effective treatments for liver tumors. However, NAC is a frequently used antioxidant that may play a role in reducing the risk of some cancers as well as promoting the regeneration of damaged DNA.
4. Promotes relief from chronic respiratory issues. Asthma, chronic bronchitis, cold and flu, coughing, wheezing, emphysema and trouble breathing are all common chronic respiratory issues affecting people globally. Mucolytic drugs are commonly used to help clear any blockages in the mucosal layer of the respiratory tract. NAC has been shown to have the same mucolytic effect as other popular drug interventions by reducing mucus secretions and phlegm thereby promoting normal healthy respiratory function.
Other health benefits of NAC include promoting increased immunity, helping to reduce chronic inflammatory conditions such ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune condition of the gastrointestinal tract.
NAC has also been shown to promote improved muscle performance and combat mood disorders like anxiety, depression and other psychiatric orders by rebalancing glutamate levels in the brain and increasing glutathione.
Are there any potential side effects of NAC?
While NAC is generally considered safe, there’s always the chance for certain drug or negative reactions. For instance, those with bleeding problems or anyone taking nitroglycerin, including blood thinners and certain blood pressure medications should avoid this supplement.
It’s best to consult your healthcare practitioner before supplementing with NAC.
The most common reactions are usually gastrointestinal in nature, including indigestion/upset stomach, diarrhea, sweating, fatigue, drowsiness and skin rashes.
Why Superior Labs NAC?
One of the biggest challenges with the supplement industry is quality and sourcing. With Superior Labs supplements you can always count on our 100% quality guarantee with only the purest of ingredients that are free from additives and preservatives. One bottle contains 1200mg of N-Acetyl Cysteine, 100mcg selenium (selenomethionine), plant cellulose (capsules) and organic rice extract.
Learn more about Superior Labs N-Acetyl Cysteine here.
Nicole Cieslak is a functional nutritional therapy practitioner and certified personal trainer at Fit Foodist Nutrition specializing in gut health and hormone balance. Every day she strives to help people overcome chronic digestive and hormonal issues by getting to the root cause of their health imbalances. Through personalized diet, lifestyle and nutritional supplement recommendations, she empowers her clients to find freedom from suffering so they can reclaim their happiness and health. Learn more about her at thefitfoodist.com and follow her on Instagram at @fitfoodist_foundations for free nutrition, fitness and nontoxic living advice.