NAC, also known as N-Acetyl Cysteine, is a form of the amino acid L-cysteine that is often used as a supplement due it’s action as an antioxidant and ability to boost glutathione levels.
1. Powerful Antioxidant
Antioxidants are compounds that reduce oxidative stress by neutralizing damaging free radicals.
NAC is a precursor to the powerful antioxidant called glutathione and supplementation can help increase glutathione production when levels are depleted.1
In a 2009 randomized and controlled trial involving 28 healthy men, researchers found that NAC supplementation increased total antioxidant status by elevating glutathione levels by by 33%.2
Another study from 2010 also found a 31% increase in glutathione and a 30% reduction in oxidative markers from NAC supplementation. The researchers concluded that NAC supplementation increases pro-antioxidant status.3
NAC may help increase antioxidant capacity by increasing glutathione production.
2. Liver Health
Since NAC can increase glutathione levels it can help protect the liver from damage and disease.
A 2015 review found that NAC reduced inflammation and oxidative stress in liver disease patients.4
In another study researchers found that NAC can positively effect liver function markers.5
NAC has also been shown to improve liver function in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in a trial with 30 participants.6
Additionally NAC may help protect the liver from damage due to liver toxic drugs.7
NAC can help protect the liver from damage and improve liver function markers.
3. Brain Health
NAC may also be of use in the treatment of addiction disorders, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), schizophrenia and depression.8
In a 2016 randomized double-blind and placebo-controlled trial with 44 patients with moderate to severe OCD, researchers concluded that NAC might be an effective augmentative treatment for OCD.9
A meta-analysis of 5 studies involving 574 participants found that NAC reduces the symptoms of depression and improves patient functioning.10
NAC may help improve brain health and function.
4. Heart Health
In a 2014 randomized clinical trial, NAC supplementation decreased hospital stay length in 98 patients who had a heart attack. Then during a 1 year period after having the heart attack, the participants who received NAC were less likely to have another cardiac event.11
NAC also helps reduce blood platelets from aggregating together.12
NAC may help improve cardiovascular and heart health.
5. Skin and Hair Health
A 2019 review of the potential uses of NAC in dermatology found that NAC could be a safe and effective for use in dermatitis or itchy skin inflammation and increasing wound healing.14
NAC may help improve skin and hair health.
NAC is an important compound that may help improve liver, skin, hair, heart and brain health in addition to other benefits.*
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