What is N-Acetylcysteine

NAC, and N-Acetyl-Cysteine?

Acetylcysteine  (NAC) mucolytic drug chemical structure

N-Acetylcysteine, NAC, and N-Acetyl-Cysteine are all one of the same just abbreviated differently. N-Acetylcysteine, for short, NAC is a more stable form of cysteine that can be taken in a supplement form.

Cysteine is a sulfur-containing amino acid needed to produce glutathione, which is a potent free radical fighter.

Cysteine is also needed to help maintain adequate levels of glutathione in our cells. In short, glutathione is one of the body's powerhouse antioxidants.

Antioxidants are compounds that help protect the body from cellular damage caused by free radicals. The body needs antioxidants because with every breath you take you generate free radicals, which are highly reactive substances that can attack and damage cells if left unchecked. Free radicals are believed by many experts to be a major culprit in premature aging and disease such as cancer and heart disease.

How Can N-Acetylcysteine, NAC, or N-Acetyl-Cysteine Benefit You?

NAC is used by the liver and the lymphocytes (white blood cells) to detoxify harmful chemicals and other toxins. In fact, it is said to be a powerful detoxifier of cigarette smoke, alcohol, and environmental pollutants ---all immune system suppressors. Put simply, it can counter environmental toxins, promoting their excretion through the liver.

NAC plays an important role in boosting the immune system and it can also stave off disease. It accomplishes this because it enhances the production of the enzyme glutathione, one of the body's powerhouse antioxidants.

In addition, it appears to act as a "mucus dissolving" agent and, as such, it helps to break up the thick mucus often present in people suffering from chronic respiratory ailments. Such conditions include bronchitis, sinusitis, asthma, and other respiratory diseases.

What about diabetes? N-Acetylcysteine holds promise in preventing and reducing the severity of diabetic nephropathy. However, people with diabetes should not take a NAC supplement without talking to physician first, as it can interfere with the effectiveness of insulin.

In addition, NAC may be helpful to:

  • Delay age-related cataracts and macular degeneration by fighting oxygen free radicals.

  • Lessen flu symptoms through its mucus thinning action.

    Precautions and Side Effects of N-Acetylcysteine, NAC, and N-Acetyl-Cysteine

    NAC appears to be well tolerated when taken at recommended dosages. However, taken at high doses for therapeutic treatments may cause headache, nausea, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal symptoms.

    It's important that you speak with your physician before taking any dietary supplements, especially if you are on any prescription medications or have a heath condition.

    Pregnant and nursing women should not take NAC supplements as the effects of NAC during pregnancy and lactation have not been sufficiently evaluated.

    NAC may reduce the effectiveness of tegretol (carbamazepine) and, as such, NAC is not recommended while taking this drug. In addition, it may also interfere with several classes of chemotherapy drugs. Again, if you suffer from a health condition or are on any prescription medications, speak to your physician.

    It's also advised that you should not use NAC while taking nitroglycerine because it could cause severe headaches. Your best bet is to check with your physician.

    It has been suggested that NAC may increase excretion of the mineral copper. Therefore, if you're using NAC for an extended period of time, you should add both copper and zinc to your treatment regimen to avoid deficiencies. Zinc and copper should be taken together for proper balance needed for optimal health.

    If you use NAC for more than a month, it is advised that you add a mixed amino acid complex supplement to your treatment regimen.

    A Tip on Selecting a N-Acetylcysteine, NAC, or N-Acetyl-Cysteine Supplement

    To reap the maximum benefits of NAC, we recommend the following tip:

    Select a NAC nutritional supplement produced at pharmaceutical standard registered facilities. It is important to note that dietary supplements are not highly regulated by the FDA in the U.S. and, as such, manufacturers are self policed and do not have to guarantee the safety, effectiveness, or even the true content of their products.

    Although, supplements should be labeled properly, many aren't, so what's stated on the label may not be in the container. The potency or purity may be inconsistent or misrepresented. Some products tested also contained very harmful contaminates! In fact, according to Consumerlab.com, the leading provider of independent test results states:

    "Testing by ConsumerLab.com shows that one in four supplements in the United States lacks the promised ingredients or has other serious problems."

    This is why it's crucial that you only purchase your supplements from pharmaceutical GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) compliant facilities. These facilities follow the exact same rigorous standards that pharmaceutical prescription medications must adhere to - thus - it ensures stringent requirements.

    A Comprehensive Product

    One company that produces a product that meets the above requirement -- and more -- is Xtend-Life from New Zealand. Their flagship formula called Total Balance contains N-Acetylcysteine along with a broad spectrum of over 70 nutrients that the body needs for optimum 'whole' body health, including vitamins, minerals, potent antioxidants, specialty nutrients, herbal extracts, enzymes, and amino acids.

    In addition, Total Balance is formulated by a highly credentialed scientific team that can blend these ingredients perfectly to ensure maximum benefits, but as importantly that do not interact adversely. Plus, Total Balance is enteric coated to protect all of these ingredients against stomach acids and to ensure maximum bio-availability.

    The company also uses only standardized herbal extracts, the purest herbal extracts with the highest quality and therapeutic benefits, and they adhere to strict pharmaceutical GMP compliance, which is the toughest in the industry.

    We here at Nutritional-Supplement-Educational-Centre have been taking Total Balance for several years now and can personally attest to its excellent results such as an increase in energy levels, mental clarity, and an increase feeling of well-being.

    We hope this webpage discussing N-Acetylcysteine was useful to you.

    To Your Health!

    The Editors


    Much more than N-Acetylcysteine can be found at our popular Amino Acid guide webpage
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