N-Acetyl Cysteine and how it benefits men
Are you suffering from health complications or concerns that you just cannot seem to get control over? Many factors both internally and externally lead to poor health, but rather than resigning to the fact that this is just how it is why not fight for better quality of life? If you had an internal defense system would you use it? Good news, you do and N-Acetyl Cysteine may be the key to unlocking this defense.
What is NAC?
N-Acetyl Cysteine, otherwise known as NAC, is growing in popularity for its many health benefits. Before deciding on whether this supplement is right for you, it’s good to understand what exactly NAC is.
Cysteine is a natural amino acid that is found in many high protein foods, especially animal products. The body is able to convert this amino acid to glutathione, a powerful antioxidant. N-Acetyl Cysteine is a modified form of cysteine and that’s taken in through supplement form, not food.
To fully comprehend the health benefits of NAC it is important to know how it works in the body. This potentially miracle supplement produces the majority of its health benefits from being able to restore glutathione levels within the body. Antioxidants are important free radical fighters that help prevent damage to the body’s cells. This takes place through detoxification and removal of many harmful substances. Antioxidants can be taken in through the diet, but being able to produce them within the body is an invaluable benefit of NAC.
Health benefits of N-Acetyl Cysteine
NAC has the ability to fight and reduce many potential health threats, but the general public and even some healthcare providers are unaware of the benefits of NAC in fighting these concerns.
Helps protect against liver damage
Glutathione is depleted in people with chronic inflammation of the liver, which ironically is needed most by people with inflammation of the liver or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Further liver damage will progress as these levels drop. NAC, as a precursor to glutathione, is able to increase glutathione in the body and thereby restore liver function and prevent liver damage.
Another way in which NAC is able to combat liver damage is through its role in acetaminophen overdose. Of the nearly 78,000 Americans that overdose on this common over the counter pain medicine, the active ingredient in Tylenol, N-Acetyl Cysteine is the most common remedy to combat hepatotoxicity and is given intravenously.
Helps prevent and treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a disease of the lungs where airways are chronically blocked as a result of inflammation. This disease results in heavy phlegm, which NAC has been shown to reduce the production of this dangerous side effect. Glutathione products as a result of N-Acetyl Cysteine have also been shown to reduce oxidative stress and thereby preventing the onset of COPD.
It helps to treat chronic bronchitis
Working much the same as it does in the treatment of COPD, NAC is able to reduce the thickness of the mucus produced in the lungs of individuals with chronic bronchitis. It is this mucus that causes breathing to be difficult in bronchitis sufferers. N-Acetyl Cysteine’s antioxidant activity has also been shown to offer a protective function within the lung’s cells, thereby reducing bronchitis’ impact. Bronchitis is primarily the result of inflammation of the bronchial tubes within the lungs. This inflammation can be decreased through the antioxidant actions of glutathione, produced by NAC.
Fights against cellular oxidative damage
Oxidative stress is the result of the body’s production of free radicals and imbalance in producing or taking in protective agents to reduce or prevent damage. These protective agents are antioxidants. Oxidative stress occurs when free radicals, molecules with an unpaired valence electron, begin to react with molecules and cells around it in an attempt to balance its electrons. It begins to “collide” with other cells resulting in damage to those cells. If this is not stopped or reduced it can lead to permanent cellular damage to the body and many illnesses.
Antioxidants work to prevent this damage by stopping the cascade of reactions and balancing the reactive molecules, free radicals. NAC is able to replenish glutathione, which is an important antioxidant that works within the body to prevent oxidative stress.
Improves intestinal barrier function
Individuals with gastrointestinal issues experience much life altering and interrupting symptoms and discomfort. NAC has been shown to improve intestinal health by way of protecting against bacterial overgrowth. The intestines are designed to allow absorption of nutrients that are vital to health while simultaneously protecting the body from potential threats. When this barrier function is reduced the body experiences a plethora of negative side effects. N-Acetyl Cysteine has been shown to improve permeability in the gut. This takes place as glutathione is generated from NAC and oxidative damage is stopped and reversed from its antioxidant functions.
Enhances bone regeneration
The aging process naturally results in bone degeneration to some degree. This can lead to minor and serious concerns such as osteoporosis and osteomalacia. N-Acetyl Cysteine is able to increase bone growth rate by speeding bone mineralization. NAC has also been shown to activate osteoblastic differentiation when a cell becomes specialized as an osteoblast, which leads to bone building as well.
Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease
Cardiovascular disease affects over 600,000 people annually in the US alone. While there are many causes of cardiovascular disease and heart attack, much of the damage to the heart muscle can be attributed to oxidative damage. When NAC is taken this oxidative damage can be reduced and thereby reduce the risk of damage to the heart in patient’s cardiovascular disease. Again, this occurs due to the increased produced of glutathione, an antioxidant, from N-Acetyl Cysteine.
Possible health benefits of NAC
May help treat HIV
HIV is a virus affecting the immune system. Also known as, Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This virus is not a disease in and of itself but can prevent your body from fighting disease and sickness due to its attack and suppression of the immune system. NAC has been shown to potentially prevent the reproduction of HIV-1, which is just one strain of the virus. However, this is substantial information because it alludes to the idea that cells may be able to resist HIV if they have a high enough level of NAC. This is good news for HIV science.
May help in recovering from a brain injury
Brain injuries have many causes both internally and externally. No matter the cause the result is generally some form of cognitive impairment. Studies are showing the potential to reverse the effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI) if N-Acetyl Cysteine is administered early in treatment, specifically in regard to behavior.
May decrease risk of kidney disease
The kidneys are responsible for filtering all the blood in the body to remove waste. This results in the production of urine and waste to be excreted. Oxidative damage can begin to occur in the kidneys due to their job of filtering this waste. Over time this damage can lead to an impairment of kidney function and eventually kidney disease. NAC’s ability to produce glutathione in the body may lead to a reduction in this oxidative damage and ultimately the risk of kidney disease.
May help prevent cancer
As previously mentioned, NAC works to create glutathione in the body, a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants fight free radicals that would otherwise lead to cellular damage. At its core, cancer is produced from the replication of damaged cells within the body. Therefore, N-Acetyl Cysteine has the potential to reduce and potentially prevent cancer by way of glutathione generation. These studies are also showing that as glutathione drops in the body-brain cells die at a much more rapid pace.
May possibly help ALS
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an incurable and debilitating disease of the nervous system that leads to the loss of muscle use. Patients with ALS have higher levels of oxidized glutathione, which is glutathione that has already been used to fight free radicals within the body. Increasing levels of glutathione may help in protecting the neurons of cells, which become damaged in ALS. N-Acetyl Cysteine also has the potential to improve muscle mass which is generally lost in ALS patients.
May increase survival rate in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF)
When the heart fails to pump blood in sufficient amounts through the body the result is chronic heart failure (CHF). CHF primarily results from oxidative damage to the heart causing cardiac fibrosis, a hardening of the heart valves. This hardening reduces the heart’s ability to pump at a strong enough rate. Studies are indicating that NAC could potentially stop cardiac fibrosis by reducing oxidative damage.
Can reduce pain and inflammation
Inflammation can have many causes such as disease, illness, or injury and can manifest anywhere throughout the body. There are molecules both within and outside the body that produce inflammation. N-Acetyl Cysteine may reduce these inflammatory molecules that are present in the body resulting in a decrease in inflammation and pain.
Matrix metalloproteinase (MMP-9 and -2) both work to produce neuropathic pain from inflammation. NAC has a unique ability to inhibit or suppress MMP production, thereby reducing pain.
Can reduce insulin resistance
Insulin is a hormone that is essential in glucose and blood sugar regulation. Insulin receptors are required for the process to work. In obese individuals, these receptors may be destroyed due to prolonged inflammation, which is common in obese people. This destruction results in what is known as insulin resistance. The majority of the body cells no longer receive insulin, they are resistant to it, and glucose levels in the body begin to increase without control. When these receptors are destroyed type 2 diabetes is nearly inevitable. However, NAC may be able to reduce inflammation in these fat cells which will result in fewer insulin receptors being destroyed.
Can protect from the flu
A major cause of flu symptoms is inflammation. NAC can reduce the inflammatory response in the body, thereby reducing flu symptoms. N-Acetyl Cysteine also has the unique ability to prevent the flu virus from replicating within cells, which will allow the body to fight the virus more effectively and recover more quickly. NAC can be a great flu preventative because of its ability to prevent replication.
Can help Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
As with neurological damage due to brain injury, NAC may be able to slow memory loss in patients with Alzheimer’s. Parkinson’s disease patients may also see improvement in their symptoms due to N-Acetyl Cysteine’s ability to improve dopamine function.
Can help negate the effects of schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder where the individual is not able to distinguish reality which leads to withdrawal, faulty perceptions, and intense emotional changes. The locus G72 gene causes enlarged synapses in the brain and is linked to Schizophrenia. One study showed that when mice with this gene were treated with NAC these synapses became normal. This is promising as it may allude to N-Acetyl Cysteine ability to treat Schizophrenia.
Can prevent addictive behaviors
N-Acetyl Cysteine is considered a glutamatergic substance, which has potential benefits in treating substance abuse disorders (SUDs). Studies have shown that many types of addictive behaviors have decreased from the use of NAC. Low levels of glutamate in the brain are linked to addictive and compulsive disorders and NAC may be beneficial in increasing glutamate levels resulting in a decrease in SUDs and other addictive behaviors.
Can prevent obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Abnormal levels of glutamate in the brain have been associated with OCD. NAC has the ability to control these levels leading to its potential to prevent this disorder. As with other mental health disorders being treated with N-Acetyl Cysteine, this positive correlation can also come from this supplement’s ability to prevent oxidative damage.
Can prevent depression and bipolar disorder
Individuals with mental health disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder have seen substantial improvement in their symptoms when taking NAC. These disorders can worsen when the sufferer experiences oxidative stress and a reduction in antioxidant activity in the body to eliminate free radicals. This combination can have positive impacts on mental health.
Can be a treatment for sleep disorders
Studies are beginning to show positive outcomes for patients with sleep disorders, specifically sleep apnea. GABA is the predominant neurotransmitter associated with sleep, while glutamate is the neurotransmitter most commonly known to be a stimulant. NAC plays a role in sleep disorders by suppressing glutamate production and increasing the conversation of GABA, leading to better sleep.
Could increase survival rates in patients suffering from heart attacks
Heart attacks have many causes. A weakened heart muscle is at risk for heart attack and this can be the result of oxidative damage. N-Acetyl Cysteine may increase survival rates of heart attack survivors by helping to reduce this oxidative damage through the production of glutathione and it’s antioxidant abilities.
N-Acetyl Cysteine dosage
N-Acetyl Cysteine is not a highly absorbent supplement. This absorbency is known as bioavailability. NAC’s bioavailability is around four to 10 percent of what is taken. It also lasts in the body for only about two hours. These two factors combined leads to a need for a high dose. This dose is normally divided into a two to three servings per day. It is recommended that patients start with a low dose, no matter what they are attempting to treat. A low dose would be around 400 to 600mg per day. No tolerable upper limit has been set for NAC, but 1800mg a day is the currently known max. However, low doses are recommended to avoid negative side effects from rapid detoxification that may occur from increased glutathione production.
Nac side effects and dangers
While NAC is generally safe and natural it should be avoided by anyone taking charcoal or nitroglycerine. As mention, negative side effects are seen when individuals begin at too high of a dose. Some nausea, constipation and other gastrointestinal side effects have also been observed when too high of a dose is taken.
Is N-Acetyl Cysteine a miracle supplement? The current trajectory of the science of NAC seems to be pointing to yes. Whether struggling with any of the above illnesses or issues or not, NAC could be a great supplement for overall health.