NAC is a highly efficient form of cysteine, which is the most important precursor for glutathione (GSH), one of the body’s hardest working antioxidants. Cells cannot absorb preformed glutathione. Glutathione consists of three amino acids: cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine. The body breaks this tripeptide apart before absorption, but the rate limiting and therefore most valuable amino acid for the purpose of making glutathione is the cysteine. Therefore, taking NAC is more productive. As the precursor for this important antioxidant, NAC provides a wide range of health benefits. NAC stimulates GSH synthesis, enhances glutathione-s-transferase activity, promotes detoxification and acts as an antioxidant.
NAC protects the heart by preventing bad cholesterol from being oxidized, lowering levels of the dangerous amino acid homocysteine, quenching free radicals, and protects against the damage caused by ischemia and reperfusion. Recently, it was reported that NAC is the most effective nutrient known to lower Lp(a) levels. Lp(a) is one of the most reliable indicators of heart disease.
NAC has been shown to halt HIV production in cellular studies by enhancing GSH production. GSH, which has a strong influence on the function of immune cells, is impaired during HIV infections. NAC also helps prevent influenza. In addition, NAC reduces the viscosity of mucus in the lungs to help people with diseases such as bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia and cystic fibrosis.
NAC provides protection against toxins. Sulphydryl groups in NAC react directly with heavy metals, acetaminophen, many poisons including herbicides, environmental pollutants such as carbon tetrachloride, and microorganisms including E. coli and aflatoxin. Indirectly, NAC helps with detoxification by producing optimal amounts of GSH for conjugation reactions, making harmful compounds less toxic.