NAC Amino Acid Benefits And Side Effects

What are NAC amino acid benefits? Find out in this article.

nac amino acid benefits

Are you considering amino acid supplements? If so then one of the options is NAC, which is made from the non-essential amino acid (NEAA) L-cysteine. It’s important to know the basics about the substance including NAC amino acid benefits. This will help to determine if it’s a good option for your particular nutritional needs. NEAAs are produced in the body but sometimes the body doesn’t make enough of them. This could be due to factors like a bad diet, high stress, or health conditions. In that case, you’ll have to increase your take through food and supplements.  

Fun Fact: British chemist William Hyde Wollaston discovered the amino acid cysteine in 1810.

Studies show that NAC might provide several health benefits. They include liver/kidney detox, antioxidants, and brain boost. These are all key functions that can improve your day-to-day life. In most cases, the body produces enough L-cysteine, which means it also has enough NAC. However, when that’s not the case it’s important to boost your levels with real food and supplements. This will help to make sure your body is working like a well-oiled machine to help you get through the physical/mental demands of your day-to-day life to make it as efficient as possible.

What Exactly Is L-Cysteine?

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a substance that’s made from the amino acid L-cysteine. So it’s important to first know what this amino is all about. Cysteine is a non-essential amino acid (NEAA). The term “non-essential” means that the body produces the amino acid naturally. In most cases, you won’t have to get it through food/supplements.

Cysteine is actually a type of sulfur. It’s found in several meat products that are high-protein. If the body has a high amount of methionine it produces this amino acid naturally. This is another NEAA in the body.

Cysteine has a chemical structure that’s close to “selenocysteine.” The main difference is that cysteine has a sulfur atom instead of a selenium atom. The amino acids are quite similar to that one key difference.

It’s believed that cysteine can provide several health benefits. The body changes it into an antioxidant. This is the same kind of substance that’s found in Vitamin C, black coffee, and chocolate beans. They can fight off “free radical” molecules that attack healthy cells. That, in turn, can help to prevent inflammation, illness, disease, etc.

Cysteine might also help to lower symptoms of other illnesses including influenza (flu), asthma, fibrosis, and other conditions. This can provide several health benefits.

 It’s believed that intravenous (IV) cysteine might also help to deal with liver/kidney damage that results from overdosing on the medicine APAP. This is critical since the vital organs are important for filtering out wastes/toxins that can cause various health issues.

Yet another possible benefit of the amino acid is to help prevent eye condition cataracts, which affect the eye’s lens. It might even help to prevent colon cancer.

L-cysteine might also provide various benefits for mental health. They include gambling addiction schizophrenia events and cocaine addiction. These are serious conditions that can cause a lot of problems for sufferers.

NAC Amino Acid Benefits

Liver and Kidney Detox

NAC is critical to help provide a natural detox. Is through boosting the function of the kidneys and liver. This happens by protecting the body from different toxins/drugs that can cause unwanted side effects.

The live/kidneys are important for removing such toxins from the body. When they’re functioning properly this boosts the body’s overall health and helps it to function better.

Doctors often prescribe IV NAC to people with an overdose of the prescription drug APAP. This helps to prevent liver/kidney damage so the body is more effective in ditching toxins.

NAC can also help liver disease patients. That’s due to the inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. This is critical to help the liver function better at removing wastes/toxins from the body.


This is through the powerful antioxidant glutathione. The body experiences this benefit through consuming NAC. Glutamine is one of the amino acids with antioxidant properties. The other one is glycine. If glutamine sounds familiar it’s used to produce the “glutamate” in MSG.

What’s the big deal with glutathione? It’s a critical antioxidant that helps to protect the body’s cells/tissues from being damaged by free radical molecules. It’s important for fighting several illnesses like heart disease and mental disorders.

Mental Disorders and Addictions

NAC might help to control the body’s levels of the neurotransmitter glutamate. This is the brains’ most important signal-sender. Neurotransmitters are related to various body functions like appetite, sleep, and mood. So it’s critical for them to function properly.

When the brain has too much or too few neurotransmitters this can affect brain function. It can result in several mental health conditions like:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • OCD
  • Addiction (drugs, gambling)


NAC might also help with various breathing problems. The antioxidant can help to add glutathione to the lungs and lower inflammation. This can help you breathe better.

Top Foods for NAC


This includes options like brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and oatmeal. For example, if you consume 100g of oatmeal you get one-third of cysteine’s daily value (DV). Besides this amino acid, you also get lots of protein and fiber.

While grain-free diets have been trending recently, the key is to pick whole grains over refined grains. This can help to prevent conditions like weight gain, inflammation, and blood sugar spikes.

Low-Fat Yogurt

You get about 20% of your daily value of cysteine from one serving of yogurt. Similar amounts are in dairy products like a glass of milk. If you like thicker textures you can go with Greek yogurt. It’s also good to go with plain yogurt and add your own toppings.


These are healthy foods you should probably add to your diet anyway. However, they can also boost your body’s intake of NAC antioxidants, which can provide several health benefits. Lentils are high in protein, fiber, and vitamins/minerals. In fact, options like soybeans and peas contain all 9 essential amino acids (EAAs) that we have to get through food.  


How high are eggs in cysteine? You actually get 100% of your daily intake from 100g of eggs. This equals two large eggs.

In past decades, many health experts warned about the dangers of egg yolks due to high cholesterol levels. However, it turns out this is “good” cholesterol. Eggs are also high in protein, good fat, and vitamins/minerals.

Lean Meats

These are some of the best options if you want to boost your body’s NAC levels. The best options are organic/lean meats to boost the nutritional value. All of these protein sources can help to increase your body’s cysteine. You can also get different amounts of various amino acids as one of the NAC amino acid benefits.

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