This is the third installment focusing on supporting your health and wellbeing written by our resident Nutritionist Dr Shane Thurlow who has a PhD in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition. Following on from our discussion on Vitamin D and Vitamin C, this blog will present information on N-acetylcysteine (NAC), a lesser known nutrient.
A derivative of the amino acid L-cysteine, NAC has been demonstrated to have important medical applications (Pei et al., 2018). As a nutritional supplement, this nutrient has shown both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. In addition to being helpful in therapies to counteract neurodegenerative and mental health diseases (Tardiolo et al., 2018).
While NAC is only obtainable in supplement form, L-cysteine is found naturally in foods such as meat, dairy products, eggs, nuts, seeds, and legumes,
The World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that NAC is a basic health system essential, as an appropriate medication. Administration is either through intravenous injection, inhalation or orally (through supplementations) (Da Costa et al., 2017). NAC supports the production of intracellular glutathione, the prime antioxidant the body produces to protect cells from oxidative stress, reducing the formation of proinflammatory cytokines (Arakawa and Ito 2007).
Recently, Van Hecke and Lee (2020) have stated that is the “potential antioxidant mechanism that has sparked interest with the current COVID-19 pandemic and whether this might be useful in community settings”. Moreover, NAC has been shown to have mucus thinning (mucolytic) properties and has been used in the treatment of respiratory illnesses (Kalyuzhin 2018), with reduced ICU stays in patients with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) (Zhang et al., 2017).
Researchers have suggested NAC could be a valuable therapeutic in COVID-19 on the basis of its potent antioxidant and mucolytic properties (McCarty and DiNicolantonio 2020). As with the other compounds that will be discussed, we should be aiming to consume a wide range of fresh produce to maximise our intake of these key nutrients. This will help us obtain L-cysteine though as mentioned above we need to supplement directly with NAC to help us optimise our quality of life and wellbeing (Atkuri et al., 2007).
Daily doses of 400 mg to 1200 mg have been used in clinical trials assessing the effectiveness of NAC. Bigvits continue to source a range of quality dietary products to help us support our healthcare needs.
This blog series is meant for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or nutritional advice or act as a substitute for seeking such advice from a qualified health professional. In order to make the blog series easier to read, I have used a conversational tone in many places with personal pronouns, such as “I” and “you.” This is meant only to make it more pleasant to read, and is not meant to imply that the information constitutes any form of advice, whether personal or general.