What Are the Benefits of NAC Supplements?

What Are the Benefits of NAC Supplements?

Scientifically reviewed by: Michael A. Smith, MD

If you’ve wondered what N-acetyl-L-cysteine does for your health, we’d suggest a better question is, what doesn’t NAC do? Because NAC supplements support everything from respiratory and bronchial health to liver, brain and immune function, they truly are wellness all-stars. (While they’re at it, why don’t they go ahead and book you a session with your personal trainer and tell you not to eat donuts?) In the overall scheme of supplements, you simply won’t get more versatile than NAC.

So how does NAC work, and how much should you take to benefit your health? Here is everything you need to know so that you can set up your own N-acetyl-L-cysteine supplement plan.

What is N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC)?

Woman holding egg, a good source of cysteine

N-acetyl-L-cysteine is a chemical precursor to glutathione, one of the body’s most important antioxidants, because it helps protect your cells against free radicals; glutathione is particularly important to protect your neurons.

Fortunately, we all naturally produce small amounts of the amino acid cysteine. Upping your intake of protein-rich foods such as eggs, chicken, yogurt, and legumes can help provide the cysteine we need to keep our glutathione levels healthy.

But, not all of us eat a high protein diet, and particularly because adequate glutathione is necessary to maintain oh-so-important immune health, supplementing is a smart, proactive strategy.

A popular, easily-to-absorb supplement form of cysteine is N-acetyl-L-cysteine.

What are the benefits of NAC supplements?

Man running with healthy glutathione levels

The reason why NAC is such an all-around winner in the world of supplements is because it helps maintain healthy glutathione levels, which in turn protects our cells against free radicals. This affects pretty much every bodily function, including:

What is the right NAC supplement dose?

Woman taking a nac supplement with water

Depending upon why you’re taking NAC, you’ll likely want to take a 600 mg capsule 2-3 times a day. It’s important never to exceed the recommended dose.

People who take N-acetyl-L-cysteine to support their immune health often will take it twice a day for 30 days. Some people turn to NAC to help balance homocysteine levels—taking 600-1200 mg of NAC is a good regimen for this goal.

If you are looking into NAC supplementation because of a specific health need, reach out to your doctor for more information.

Is NAC safe?

Generally, NAC supplements are a safe way to promote healthy glutathione levels, but it’s very important to maintain hydration; drinking at least 6-8 glasses of water a day is critical.

If you take certain medications, there are some interactions to be on the lookout for. People who take nitroglycerin and isosorbide dinitrate might notice intensified side effects if they also supplement with NAC. Word to the wise: you should always tell your doctor what supplements you take when you are given a new prescription!

How NAC fits into a proactive health regimen

Taking NAC is a great way to be proactive about your health, but it’s not the only piece of the puzzle. Most importantly, you need to eat a nutrient-rich diet, get enough exercise, sleep regularly and restfully, and try to keep excessive stress at bay (meditation and mindfulness can be helpful here!).

While NAC is a wonderful liver supplement, drinking only in moderation (if at all) is the most important element of your liver health regimen. Likewise, maintaining a strong immune system and supporting your respiratory and bronchial health begin with a healthy lifestyle and a vigilant stay-well strategy.

All the same, NAC is a great way to go that extra mile to ensure you’re fully equipped with the antioxidant support you need to maintain your overall wellness. And if anything’s worth the effort, it’s your health!

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