N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) is an antioxidant and precursor for the master antioxidant glutathione (1).
- May reduce oxidative stress (ref)*
- May reduce muscle fatigue during exercise (ref)*
- Supports electrolyte function during exercise (ref)*
- Provides support in breaking behavioral habits (ref)*
- Maintains cellular health*
N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine Mode of Action
The master antioxidant Glutathione consists of three amino acids: glutamate, glycine, and cysteine (1). Glutathione scavenges oxygen and nitrogen radicals but is degraded quickly and requires more L-cysteine to resynthesize. N-acetylcysteine is an acetylated form of L-Cysteine, and by supplementing with NAC, there is more L-cysteine available to replenish Glutathione (2).
When NAC is available to a cell, it is hydrolyzed to release the cysteine amino acid and then synthesized into GSH via enzymatic reactions with c-glutamylcysteine synthetase and GSH synthetase. Glutathione synthesis is limited by the number of substrates that are available for it. Glutathione’s primary function is to provide antioxidant defense, modulate oxidation-reduction reaction signal transduction, detoxify electrophilic xenobiotics, store and transport cysteine, regulate cell proliferation and synthesis of deoxyribonucleotide synthesis, regulate leukotriene and prostaglandin metabolism, and regulate immune system responses (3).
NAC increases intracellular Glutathione and may decrease inflammation and promote blood vessel health by acting as a vasodilator by facilitating nitric oxide (3). NAC also reduces the release of glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter which is neurotoxic in large amounts (2).
NAC provides a direct antioxidant effect by providing protection against ROS (reactive oxygen species) (4). ROS is the production of reactive oxygen species in response to any situation resulting in chronic or sudden overconsumption of oxygen, and can occur inside mitochondrial, in the capillary system, or by inflammatory cells, but is mostly produced by mitochondria as a byproduct of cell conversion of molecular oxygen to water. ROS can damage or modify DNA, lipids, or proteins in the cells by oxidation and peroxidation. Oxidative stress is a result of an imbalance between antioxidants and oxidants (3).
NAC has also been used to treat acetaminophen toxicity (5).
Pure Nootropics’ NAC provides 500 mg per 1 capsule. Suggested use for adults is 1 capsule by mouth daily, or as directed by your healthcare practitioner.
N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine Side Effects and Toxicity
NAC is generally well tolerated. Side effects may include gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (3)(5). Other side effects may include constipation, dyspepsia, heartburn, loss of appetite, epigastric pain, flatulence, an offensive taste and odor, headache, tiredness, dizziness, disorientation, rash, inability to concentrate, dysuria, pain in the legs, joint pain, and respiratory symptoms. Rare side effects may include palpitations and chest tightness, blurred vision, and hemoptysis (5).
Most side effects occur at doses of 9 grams or higher used in a single administration, or at greater than 30 grams daily (5).
The lethal dose for NAC was greater than 1000 mg/kg in dogs, between 2500-6000 mg/kg in rats, and 3575 mg/kg in mice (5).
If you are taking any medications, please consult your healthcare practitioner before beginning supplementation with NAC to learn of any potential pharmaceutical medication interactions which may occur.
DO NOT USE if you are taking Nitroglycerin. A major interaction will occur between NAC and Nitroglycerin (5).
If you are taking an ACE inhibitor (such as Lotensin (benazepril), Vasotec (enalapril), Capoten (captopril), Monopril (fosinopril), Prinivil/Zestril (lisinopril), Univasc (moexipril), Accupril (quinapril), Aceon (perindopril), Altace (ramipril), Mavik (trandolapril), and others: a moderate interaction may occur (5). Please consult your healthcare practitioner before beginning supplementation with NAC.
If you are using activated charcoal, a moderate interaction may occur (5). Please consult your healthcare practitioner before beginning supplementation with NAC.
If you are taking Anticoagulant/antiplatelet medications such as aspirin, Plavix (clopidogrel), Lovenox (enoxaparin), Fragmin (dalteparin), heparin, Coumadin (warfarin), Ticlid (ticlopidine), and others: a moderate interaction may occur (5). Please consult your healthcare practitioner before beginning supplementation with NAC.
- Herbs and supplements with Anticoagulant/antiplatelet properties such as angelic, danshen, clove, ginger, garlic, ginkgo, Panax ginseng, and others: a moderate interaction may occur (5). Please consult your healthcare practitioner before beginning supplementation with NAC.
If you are taking Antihypertensive medications, such as Vasotec (enalapril), Diovan (valsartan), Cozaar (losartan), Cardizem (dilitiazem), Norvasc (amlodipine), Lasix (furosemide), HydroDiuril (hydrochlorothiazide), and others: a moderate interaction may occur (5). Please consult your healthcare practitioner before beginning supplementation with NAC.
- Herbs and supplements with blood-pressure-lowering properties, such as Andrographis, cat’s claw, casein peptides, coenzyme Q-10, L-arginine, fish oil, lyceum, theanine, stinging nettle, and others: a moderate interaction may occur (5). Please consult your healthcare practitioner before beginning supplementation with NAC.
For further information, please see our References Tab above.