NAC: The Mighty Multitasker

NAC: The Mighty Multitasker

I love to highlight amazing supplements that have helped me on my health journey. NAC being one of them. It’s such an effective supplement that the FDA has tried to regulate it. This means they know how powerful it is and can help so many people. They even tried to pull it from the shelves, but it’s still available! 

To that end, NAC has a list of health benefits longer than nearly any other supplement I’ve written about, from detoxification to brain health, glutathione synthesis, female fertility, sperm quality, PCOS benefits, blood sugar regulation, oxidative damage prevention, and more. I have spoken about NAC before in my COVID protocol, but today I’m going to tell you how it can be an incredible addition to your well-being routine.

What is NAC?

N-Acetylcysteine is the supplement form of cysteine which is an amino acid. These are the building blocks of our body and it helps it create things like glutathione, one of the most powerful and protective antioxidants. 

What Is NAC Used For?

1. Creating Glutathione And Reducing Oxidative Stress And Inflammation

NAC is a precursor of L-cysteine, which helps in glutathione biosynthesis. Without NAC, the body can’t produce this powerful, anti-inflammatory amino acid. It scavenges free radicals and reactive oxygen species and reduces oxidative stress in the body and exercise induced oxidative stress). 

Glutathione has so many important functions in the body, including:

  • Building DNA
  • Supporting and regulating the immune system
  • Forming sperm cells (more on that later)
  • Regenerating vitamin C and E 
  • Removing mercury from the brain
  • Helping the gallbladder to function properly
  • Helping the process of apoptosis, a form of programmed cell death that occurs in multicellular organisms

Research also shows that glutathione can prevent cancer progression and interfere with tumor invasion and metastasis. It also helps treat nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, improve insulin resistance, reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, reduce damage from ulcerative colitis (an inflammatory bowel disease), and even reduce the effects of autism spectrum disorders.

2. Autoimmune Disease Management

NAC can help with autoimmune management and has therapeutic potential for some autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis. NAC was shown to inhibit inflammatory cytokines, making it a promising treatment for Th1-mediated autoimmune disease. It’s thought that this is a result of NAC’s impact on reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) that are generated in the body because of inflammatory processes associated with autoimmune conditions. ROS and RNS are also believed to play a role in the pathobiology of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and multiple sclerosis. Reducing levels of these may, in turn, reduce the onset or severity of autoimmune diseases.

3. Hormone, Fertility Support, And Birth Outcomes

When used in combination with other vitamins, mainly E or A and E together, and fatty acids, NAC can reduce reactive oxygen species in the body. Since its safe to use during pregnancy, it can lead to better pregnancy outcomes and assist with fertility

In a case-controlled study of women struggling with infertility and undergoing IVF, research showed that 1,200 mg og NAC supported a higher number of follicles and a higher pregnancy rate in participants. Fertility support is said to be due to the glutathione levels directly connected to insulin secretion, which can interfere with fertility. 

To that end, NAC reduces insulin resistance and helps with PCOS. This has been studied in a Women’s Health Review and studies have shown that 600mg of NAC taken 3 times a day helps to decrease participants’ BMI, levels of hair on the face, chest, and abdomen and fasting insulin levels, i.e., better blood sugar regulation. It also reduces free testosterone levels, menstrual irregularities, and total and LDL cholesterol levels. NAC has even been proven more effective than Metformin in a number of these categories. 

In addition to helping with conception, NAC helps with improving birth outcomes by reducing preterm labor, often connected to infections during pregnancy. The anti-inflammatory effects of NAC can also help reduce infection severity and protect against preterm birth recurrence. 

Lastly, NAC helps male fertility, too. Research has shown that medical therapy with oral antioxidants like NAC, dosed on a three-month basis, can significantly increase and improve sperm parameters, including count, motility, and normal morphology.

4. Biofilm Disruption And Microbiome / Oral Microbiome Support

NAC has been explored for its effectiveness in inhibiting biofilm formation in the mouth. Biofilms are bacterial communities that self-reproduce and hide from the immune system. They are troublesome because they resist classic antibiotic treatment, meaning they are hard for the body to fight or break down. NAC is said to be effective in destroying developed biofilms, helping to eradicate pre-formed mature biofilms, inhibiting new biofilm production, and reducing gum inflammation in the oral cavity. 

NAC may also hold the same effectiveness in other areas of the body, including the vaginal cavity and vaginal microbiome. When combined with antibiotics, NAC can become increasingly permeable, making it a potential option to overcome antibiotic resistance. It’s very powerful!

5. Reduction In Respiratory Tract Infections

NAC can be helpful in treating respiratory infections such as bronchitis and chronic bronchitis. In a 2016 review in the Journal of Respiratory Medicine, it concluded that NAC, either alone or with antibiotics, can decrease the risk of bronchitis symptoms worsening into conditions like chronic bronchitis and rhinosinusitis. NAC also reduces mucus production and thickness, coughing, wheezing, and issues and challenges with breathing. It can also help with emphysema and one of the leading causes of death in the US, obstructive pulmonary disease.

6. Immune Function

Studies show that an ongoing supply of NAC (2 to 4 months worth) can strengthen the immune system too. This study was in postmenopausal women and was a result of an increasing leukocyte glutathione pool. It’s also thought that NAC can decrease the likelihood of immune-related diseases.

7. Mood-Enhancing Abilities And Mental health Support

NAC holds the potential for managing and optimizing mental health thanks to how it affects chemical messengers in the brain. And beause it has the probability to treat anxiety and depression, NAC is said to have positive impacts on the neurotransmitter glutamate in the brain. It’s being researched for how it can regulate the exchange of glutamate and prevent pre-oxidant effects, which has been connected to OCD characterized and driven by impulsivity and compulsivity.

Meanwhile, NAC is thought to help with anxiety and depression symptoms because it lowers inflammation in the brain, reduces stress levels, and increases dopamine levels. It’s also been studied as a medication to treat bipolar disorder and NAC’s antioxidant effects may potentially be helpful in treating schizophrenia

8. Inhibiting Replication Of RNA Viruses (including Covid)

Viruses responsible for influenza A, B, and RSAV have been shown to be inhibited by NAC and its anti-inflammatory properties. In a randomized placebo-controlled study, research showed a significant decrease in the frequency of influenza-like episodes and reduced the length of time confined to bed and symptoms. Interestingly, only 25% of those in the study developed any symptoms from the virus.  

NAC administered intravenously, orally, or inhaled is also said to suppress the replication of the COVID virus. It does this by stopping the cytokine storm, extracellularly scavenging free radicals, protecting T cells, and replenishing intracellular glutathione. 

How To Take NAC

NAC needs to be supplemented. There isn’t an optimal dose or agreed daily requirement of NAC, but experts suggest dosing for a couple of months and monitoring symptoms. It can be taken at any time of day (morning, noon, or night), and dosing depends on what you are treating. 2000 mg is safe for most adults, with dosing advised between 600 to 1800 mg daily. Higher doses can be used for more serious conditions, including cancer. More significant doses are around 2800 mg per day for up to 3 months. 

Final Thoughts

NAC is a wonder supplement. It is protective, powerful, anti-inflammatory, detoxifying. It can help with so many conditions from anxiety to depression, OCD, infertility, PCOS, insulin resistance, metabolic disorder, and even certain types of cancer. But just because it is powerful doesn’t mean it’s right for you. So always supplement with a high-quality source you trust and talk to your doctor to see if NAC is a good option.