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N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (a.k.a. NAC) Print E-mail
by Ron Kennedy, M.D., Santa Rosa, CA

Dr. Kennedy NAC is the pre-acetylized form of the simple amino acid Cysteine. N-acetyl-L-cysteine is a powerful antioxidant and a premier antitoxin and immune support substance. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which are produced by normal metabolic activity. When free radicals are left unchecked they cause damage to cells and DNA and are considered by scientists to be a major factor in the aging process.

N-acetyl-L-cysteine has been shown to provide protection against free radicals as well as a broad range of toxic hazards such as: acrolein (found in barbecue and cigarette smoke and auto exhaust), bromobenzene, paraquat (a toxic herbicide), overdoses of acetaminophen, and the side-effects of cyclophosphamide and adrimycin (anti-cancer drugs).

The key to this protection may be the sulfur and sulfhydryl groups contained in N-Acetyl Cysteine and its derivative, glutathione. Both cysteine and methionine are precursors of glutathione, but N-acetyl-L-cysteine is better. L-cysteine loses approximately 85% of its sulfur group (which becomes the active part of glutathione) in the digestion process, while N-Acetyl-L-cysteine, a more stable compound, loses only 15%. This means that N-Acetyl-L-cysteine has almost six times more effective sulfur groups left after digestion.

N-Acetyl-L-cysteine is also a better source of glutathione than taking glutathione itself, because less than half of supplemental glutathione gets out of the digestive system and into the body. This greater efficiency is important since cellular glutathione levels tend to drop 30% to 35% with age. Supplemental N-acetyl-L-cysteine may have an anti-aging effect by increasing glutathione levels in the liver, lungs, kidneys and bone marrow.

NAC is currently the dietary supplement of choice for building up or conserving the body's stores of glutathione, cysteine, and other sulfhydryl antioxidant resources. NAC is well tolerated, is well absorbed, resists enzymatic breakdown, and has been proven to raise internal GSH and cysteine levels when taken orally.

NAC has a positive effect in the treatment of AIDS probably through its action of increasing intracellular glutathione levels.

NAC is an example of a class of substances known as conditional nutrients.

The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.�Treatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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