Getting the Knack of NAC
What popular nutrient on health store shelves boosts your immune system, bolsters the heart, builds muscle proteins, breaks down mucous, benefits emotions, and beautifies skin? It’s called NAC.
Daily TLC with NAC
We’ve all stumbled over health acronyms – short-forms made from letters of long, difficult-to-pronounce words. While NAC (N-acetyl cysteine) is one of them, it is not difficult to understand. It is a powerhouse antioxidant that is naturally occurring in the body, and is well-known to fight premature aging and disease. NAC decreases the inflammation that contributes to everything from heart disease to cancer and might even trigger mental illness. NAC stimulates the body to make glutathione, our “master” antioxidant that’s involved in hundreds of lifesaving interactions which include liver detoxifying and even immune building to fight dangerous viruses. In other words, NAC provides TLC to every cell every hour of every day.
NAC has been researched for its benefits for over 20 years in dozens of clinical studies worldwide. Hospitals use NAC to reduce heavy mucous in lungs from pneumonia and reduce throat air passage problems. MDs also use it to counteract dangerous toxins—from heavy metal and carbon monoxide poisoning to unfavourable prescription drug reactions. Research shows NAC has been found to increase immunity against certain flu viruses and reduce bronchitis. As a free radical-scavenging antioxidant, NAC helps support the immune system by reducing mutated cells and protecting cell walls from damage.
Other studies suggest NAC may be useful to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. It showed benefits for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia (because these patients have difficulty processing glutamate, related to glutathione). Still others reveal its benefits to fight viruses that invade our respiratory system.
Do you need to take antioxidants?
That depends on your: amount of antioxidant-rich foods eaten daily, level of a compromised immune system (illness creates greater need), activity/exercise level (exercise increases free radicals), age (antioxidants are anti-aging), and general health (antioxidants prevent disease). Do you need the antioxidant Glutathione? Glutathione is found in every cell of the body. It is made from three amino acids – cysteine, glutamate (that are both associated with NAC) & glycine. Viruses, bacteria, pollution, heavy metals, radiation, everyday chemicals, medications and the aging process cause free-radical damage to cells, and these all deplete glutathione. The highest amount of glutathione is in the liver, where it is important for detoxification and is essential for the body’s defense system. Lower glutathione has been connected to poor immune system functioning due to the body’s reduced ability to detoxify harmful free radicals. NAC is the superstar supplement to support glutathione, and in turn, provide protection to our entire body.
Do NAC supplements work?
Like most nutrient supplements, it may entirely depend on how much is taken, how much is absorbed, and what results you’re seeking. High potency pharmaceutical grade N-acetyl cysteine is available in safe, naturally-derived supplements as high as 1000 mg. It is used by practitioners, but it can be purchased by health store customers, too. Read product labels to decipher how much of the nutrient is in each dose (some products offer 500 mg). NAC is easy to take, and has very few contraindications or negative side effects. FYI, the odour you smell is from the sulfur that is part of NAC, which is normal.