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N-Acetyl Cysteine

Antioxidants are compounds produced in the body and found in many foods that help defend our cells from damage (oxidative stress) brought on by free radicals. One of the most important nutrients used by the body to support our endogenous production of antioxidants is n-acetyl cysteine (NAC).


What it does

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is an amino acid that serves as an essential building block, along with the amino acids glutamine and glycine, for the synthesis of glutathione.[1]

Glutathione is considered to be one of the most powerful antioxidants in the body, particularly in regards to immune health. Maintaining sufficient levels of glutathione is critical to the health of the respiratory and immune systems as well as the liver.

NAC may also help protect against oxidation of lipids and inflammation, which can damage or destroy insulin receptors.[4] There’s even some research indicating that NAC supplementation may be useful for combating alcohol and acetaminophen toxicity.[3]

How it works

N-acetyl cysteine mainly works via its support of glutathione production. With increased glutathione concentrations, the body is better equipped to combat free radical damage and the detoxification of heavy metals and other harmful substances (toxins).

The powerful amino acid has also been documented to increase nitric oxide production, which improves blood flow and supports cardiovascular health.[1]


NAC has poor bioavailability as an oral supplement, meaning that it is not efficiently absorbed and utilized by the body. There is also no “standard” dose for NAC in supplements; however, typical dosing range for the powerful compound is between 600–1,800 mg.[5][6]


  1. Anfossi, G., Russo, I., Massucco, P., Mattiello, L., Cavalot, F., & Trovati, M. (2001). N-acetyl-L-cysteine exerts direct anti-aggregating effect on human platelets. European Journal of Clinical Investigation, 31(5), 452–461.
  2. Morley, K. C., Baillie, A., Van Den Brink, W., Chitty, K. E., Brady, K., Back, S. E., Haber, P. S. (2018). N-acetyl cysteine in the treatment of alcohol use disorder in patients with liver disease: Rationale for further research. Expert Opinion on Investigational Drugs, 27(8), 667–675.
  3. Heard KJ. Acetylcysteine for acetaminophen poisoning. N Engl J Med. 2008;359(3):285-92.
  4. Jain SK, Velusamy T, Croad JL, Rains JL, Bull R. L-cysteine supplementation lowers blood glucose, glycated hemoglobin, CRP, MCP-1, and oxidative stress and inhibits NF-kappaB activation in the livers of Zucker diabetic rats. Free Radic Biol Med. 2009;46(12):1633-8.
  5. Borgstrom, L., Kagedal, B., & Paulsen, O. (1986). Pharmacokinetics of N-acetylcysteine in man. European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 31(2), 217–222.
  6. Dodd, S., Dean, O., Copolov, D. L., Malhi, G. S., & Berk, M. (2008). N-acetylcysteine for antioxidant therapy: pharmacology and clinical utility. Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy, 8(12), 1955–1962.