L-Cysteine and Your Immune System

L-cysteine, a semi-essential amino acid, benefits several systems in the body and particularly provides essential support for the respiratory and immune systems.

6 minute read

Last Updated August 20, 2021

How L-Cysteine Helps Your Immune System

L-cysteine is a semi-essential amino acid because it can be produced in the body. However, this process requires the amino acids serine and methionine, which are obtained through diet. If these are lacking, you will need to acquire L-cysteine from food such as poultry, eggs, cheese, and sunflower seeds or supplemental support to ensure L-cysteine levels in your body are maintained for optimal health.

One of the most important roles of L-cysteine is its involvement in the production of glutathione. This antioxidant enzyme helps reduce typical oxidative stress in the body, to support proper cell functions and processes. In addition, antioxidant activity benefits several systems in the body and provides essential support for the immune system. 

How L-Cysteine Supports Immune Health

Glutathione is one of the most important antioxidant enzymes in the body that helps clean and fixes common damage to tissues. By maintaining levels of L-cysteine, you can promote glutathione production, and there are several ways this activity benefits your immune system.

Promotes Healthy Respiratory System

By promoting glutathione production, L-cysteine also supports lung health by reducing oxidative stress triggered by common seasonal threats. In addition to this antioxidant activity, L-cysteine works to maintain normal mucus thickness in the airways, allowing it to be coughed up normally and removed, relieving occasional respiratory symptoms. 

Encourages Antioxidant Activity

Vitamin E is an essential antioxidant that supports immune cell production in the thymus, and as we age, the ability to retain this vitamin diminishes. L-cysteine helps promote the activity of vitamin E for optimal immune system health. L-cysteine also supports vitamin C, another important antioxidant that works alongside vitamin E to help promote immune cell activity for optimal defense. 

Promotes Immune Cell Activity

Through glutathione production, L-cysteine plays a role in the function of immune cells, which promotes proper immune responses for defense against environmental threats or seasonal threats. L-cysteine also works synergistically with other antioxidants like vitamin C and E to support the function of immune cells, particularly as it relates to proper lung health. 

Immune cell in action

Additional Health Benefits of L-Cysteine

Support Brain Health

L-cysteine helps support healthy brain function by promoting glutamate levels. This neurotransmitter is important in memory development and learning. L-cysteine replenishes glutathione levels and protects brain tissues from oxidative stress to promote brain cells and overall cognitive health. 

Promote Heart Health

By supporting antioxidant activity, L-cysteine helps protect the heart from oxidative stress. L-cysteine also promotes healthy blood glucose levels, supporting normal blood pressure levels and healthy circulation to reduce the common strain placed on blood vessels. 

Support Healthy Liver Function

Maintaining proper L-cysteine levels supports proper liver detoxification, allowing the liver to efficiently perform digestive and metabolic processes essential to overall health. As the liver processes various compounds, the L-cysteme promotes the production of the new liver to help maintain a healthy liver structure.

Taking L-Cysteine

As a semi-essential amino acid, your body can produce some L-cysteine, which means there is no specific dietary recommendation. Adding a doctor-formulated supplement that includes L-cysteine can provide your immune system with added support. For any supplement, always follow the recommended dosage on the label, and for optimal results, choose a product that includes scientifically studied ingredients and no unnecessary fillers. 

Side Effects and Warnings

L-cysteine is the supplemental version of the amino acid produced in small amounts in your body. It is considered safe for adult consumption and long-term use. It is not recommended for pregnant or nursing mothers, and any individuals with chronic metabolic health concerns should speak with their doctor before starting any supplement that contains L-cysteine. 

Healthy liver illustration

Side effects of taking L-cysteine are rare, but they may include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and constipation. It is important to note that these side effects, if they occur, are typically associated with higher doses of L-cysteine, so sticking to recommended dosages is important. There may be a risk of interactions with other medications, and L-cysteine should not be taken with any drugs that suppress the immune system. 

The Bottom Line

Although your body is capable of producing L-cysteine in small amounts, L-cysteine supplements can provide additional support to maintain healthy immune system function. By replenishing glutathione levels, promoting healthy lung and immune cell function, and reducing oxidative stress, L-cysteine makes sure your immune system is your best defense against environmental threats.