NAC: 10 Reasons Why This Non-Essential Amino Acid Is Still Needed

NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine) is a non-essential amino acid that your body needs to function properly, especially when your body’s unable to produce it on its own. Ensuring you have NAC via supplementation can improve liver health, fight heart disease and more.

7 minute read

Last Updated June 30, 2020

NAC: 10 Reasons Why This Non-Essential Amino Acid Is Still Needed

There are certain amino acids that are essential, but many of us are not aware of what they are. What about the ones which are non-essential? It would be a mistake to assume that non-essential means non-beneficial, because there are amino acids like NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine) that are important to your overall health, and particularly for the health of your liver.

Cysteine (the C in NAC) is a semi-essential amino acid that your body can produce from other amino acids. When your dietary intake of these amino acids is low, cysteine shifts to an essential need instead.

NAC is the supplemental version of cysteine and can be taken to give you a boost when your dietary intake of the other amino acids is low. Despite being considered non-essential, NAC or cysteine provides numerous benefits to your health. Here the 10 you need to know about:

1. NAC Makes Glutathione

Don’t worry if you are not familiar with this compound, because many are not. You will love to know that glutathione is an important antioxidant and NAC is a primary player in its production.

Production of glutathione helps to protect your body from harmful free radicals and oxidative damage which destroys and ages your cells and tissues. Glutathione plays an important role in several chemical processes in your body and also stimulates your immune system to boost overall health.

2. Detoxification

NAC is important to your body’s detoxification process and can prevent damaging side effects associated with drugs and environmental toxins. By helping with detoxifying your body you support optimal kidney and liver function and can protect them from damage.

The antioxidant properties of NAC also help protect you from liver disease and help your liver to heal even better than other traditional alternatives.

The toxic effects of alcohol and drug use can be repaired with NAC supplementation. These toxins can seriously damage your liver over time, and NAC can protect you from too much damage.

Of course, avoiding excessive alcohol and drug consumption is the best way to keep your liver clean and safe from disease, but NAC and perhaps even probiotics can help in a supporting role. Finding a supplement containing NAC is important for the health of your liver, particularly if said supplement also contains silybin.

3. Improve Heart Health

Oxidative damage is particularly dangerous for your heart and is the most frequent cause of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. NAC increases nitric oxide production, which dilates your veins and improves blood circulation.

Combined with the reduced oxidative damage, your risk for heart diseases is significantly lowered.

4. Respiratory Relief

NAC acts as an expectorant, as well as an antioxidant, and both properties allow it to help relieve common respiratory conditions. By replenishing your glutathione levels, any inflammation in your lungs is reduced. This helps with conditions such as bronchitis, asthma, cystic fibrosis, and COPD.

Regular NAC supplementation also ensures that mucous production in your airways is limited, which can help relieve congestion associated with common colds and other illnesses.

5. Boost Brain Health

By boosting glutamate and glutathione levels, NAC also boosts your brain health. Glutamate is an important neurotransmitter involved in learning and memory. Increased levels could help slow cognitive decline associated with dementia and diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

6. Manage Blood Sugar

High blood sugar levels as well as obesity trigger inflammation in the fat tissue of your body. When this occurs, your insulin receptors get damaged, which increases your risk of diabetes.

NAC stabilizes blood sugar levels which in turn reduces inflammation and insulin resistance. With blood sugar being efficiently removed from your bloodstream, you have less risk of diabetes and blood sugar levels are easier to manage.

7. Immune System Boost

NAC helps to boost your immunity through its role in producing glutathione. Deficiency in this amino acid has been linked to several serious diseases, suggesting that boosted levels will enhance immunity.

The presence of NAC has been shown to reduce the ability of flu viruses to replicate and to restore levels of natural killer cells in people with the HIV virus. In additional studies, NAC has been linked to cancer cell death and can potentially block cancer cell replication.

8. Better Mental Health

Glutamate is an important neurotransmitter in mental health and NAC helps to regulate your glutamate levels. Glutamate is necessary for normal brain function but excessive amounts can cause brain damage. When this happens, the risk for a disorder such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder increase.

NAC, among its many uses, helps to relieve symptoms of depression and can moderate the more severe OCD symptoms too. NAC has also been shown to reduce cravings associated with drug use and addictive behaviors.

9. Digestive Health

NAC improves the intestinal lining in your gut which helps to protect you from the leaky gut syndrome. Poor diet, as well as allergies, can cause leaky gut, which allows particles to escape into your bloodstream.

These foreign bodies moving through your body trigger inflammation and your risk for serious disease increases. By protecting you at the gut level, these particles never get the chance to cross over into your blood.

10. Improved Fertility

Both men and women can benefit from NAC with regards to fertility. Oxidative stress is a major factor in infertility for men and NAC helps to combat this, thus improving semen integrity.

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome often experience low fertility levels and infertility, and NAC helps to induce the ovulation cycle and promote fertility. For those trying to get pregnant, adding NAC supplements may be a good option to consider.

The Bottom Line

NAC may be termed as semi-essential or non-essential, but without it there are numerous health benefits you would never see. As an important precursor to valuable amino acids, NAC promotes health throughout your body.

NAC supplements are a great way to prevent and naturally treat many health problems, from liver disease and cirrhosis to overall well-being, proving that this amino acid is essential for boosting health from brain to toe.

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