NAC or cysteine in acetyl form. For some time, the topic in dietetics has been quite loud due to its phenomenal pro-health properties, antioxidant potential and activation of natural glutathione production. More than 200 scientific researches were carried out on it.
A little of biochemistry...
Cysteine is included in endogenous amino acids. Cysteine has a specific structure, classified as reactive amino acids, contains sulphur, its function can be classified as the binding of toxic substances is therefore very useful in detoxification processes. Also necessary for the synthesis of glutathione (a powerful antioxidant). Takes part in the synthesis of proteins, enzymes and coenzymes.
Why is it so important?
Cysteine is considered an essential amino acid. It occurs in keratin, it’s the main protein component of the skin, hair and nails, and what is more, it also participates in the production of collagen, improving the elasticity and structure of the skin. It occurs even in digestive proteins. Also appreciated for its use in detoxification, e.g. liver. The aforementioned glutathione is necessary for this purpose. Cysteine is the most important factor determining the amount of synthesized glutathione. Consumption of cysteine accelerates the removal of harmful substances from the liver, also preventing the accumulation of toxins. It protects the liver and brain from damage that causes alcohol or tobacco smoke. The N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) metabolite is very often administered in the early stages of paracetamol poisoning, due to the very strong detoxification properties of this amino acid. Cysteine easily binds to heavy metals, trapping them and removing them from the body. It has strong antioxidant properties, it not only fights free radicals but also neutralizes reactive oxygen species thanks to which it perfectly protects cell membranes. It can also prevent the oxidation of cholesterol and eliminate the effects of atherosclerosis. Recommended for rheumatoid arthritis and even cancer. It’s also helpful when burning fat and building muscle mass. It protects the body against the effects of negative radiation and accelerates the treatment of respiratory diseases. As you can see, its effect is systemic.
Where does it occur?
When looking for natural sources of cysteine, attention should be paid to high-protein products. We find it in beef or poultry meat, as well as in vegetables: beans, lentils, soybeans, spirulina, because these plants have a high protein content. High content was also found in milk protein, peanuts and corn. It’s difficult to find it on the market of supplements in the form of a self-made preparation, most often we find it in amino acid formulations such as BCAA, EAA or SAA.
Mainly these preparations are dedicated to the regeneration and detoxification of the body, they also contribute to the intensification of anabolic changes. In supplementation, it usually occurs in the form of NAC.
It often also occurs as an ingredient in cosmetics for skin and nails.
What is its use in dietetics and training?
In addition to the systemic action, which is positive for all body systems, its supplementation can be used in both weight reduction and building muscle mass. As mentioned earlier, it may contribute to fat burning and be helpful in muscle growth.
What is more, NAC is involved in stimulating endogenous glutathione, which translates into a significant improvement in regeneration and increased self-healing properties of the body. NAC supplementation significantly supports physical effort, which is very important for athletes and physically active people. This translates into more effective training and greater progression both in terms of training quality and silhouette effects. NAC also supports the digestive system and reduces oxidative stress. It also speeds up the restoration of body proteins by acting anabolically on muscle tissue.
It reduces muscle ache after training. Also recommended to endurance athletes, such as cycling, to support aerobic capacity and the ability to utilize oxygen. It also works well for people who are during and after cycles using pro-hormones and steroids as one of the most powerful compounds supporting the regeneration of damaged liver cells. All of these processes consist in particular in the control of energy production, hormones and anabolic processes at the molecular level.
Contraindications and drug interactions regarding NAC
Supplements should be considered by diabetics, it’s recommended to consult a doctor in advance, because NAC can inhibit the action of insulin. It should not be taken by persons suffering from cystinuria (rare genetic disease), children, pregnant women and breastfeeding women.
Dosage of NAC
This is an individual matter and depends on several factors, the basic ones include: body weight, the need for NAC, the problem that causes supplementation.
Theoretically, it is assumed that daily supplementation ranges from 1-3 capsules (500 - 1500 mg).
It is also recommended to supplement it with vitamin C in a ratio of 1: 3.