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N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is a derivative of the amino acid cysteine. It is commonly used as a dietary supplement and has been studied for its potential health benefits. Here are some reasons why NAC may be important for human health:

  1. Antioxidant Function: NAC has antioxidant properties, meaning that it can help to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals and oxidative stress.

  2. Liver Health: NAC has been studied for its potential to improve liver function and reduce the risk of liver damage caused by alcohol and other toxins.

  3. Respiratory Health: NAC has been shown to have potential benefits for respiratory health. It may help to reduce inflammation and improve symptoms in people with respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.

  4. Mental Health: NAC may have potential benefits for mental health. It has been studied for its potential to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

  5. Cardiovascular Health: NAC may have potential benefits for cardiovascular health. It has been shown to improve endothelial function, which is important for cardiovascular health.

It's important to note that while NAC is generally considered safe, it can interact with certain medications and may not be appropriate for everyone. It's important to talk to a healthcare provider before starting any new supplements.

Good food sources of NAC include garlic, onions, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower.


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  • Sadowska AM, Manuel-y-Keenoy B, De Backer WA. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory efficacy of NAC in the treatment of COPD: discordant in vitro and in vivo dose-effects: a review. Pulm Pharmacol Ther. 2007;20(1):9-22.

  • Schmitt B, Vicenzi M, Garrel C, Denis FM. Effects of N-acetylcysteine, oral glutathione (GSH) and a novel sublingual form of GSH on oxidative stress markers: a comparative crossover study. Redox Biol. 2015 Dec;6:198-205.

  • Magalhães PV, Dean O, Andreazza AC, Berk M, Kapczinski F. Antioxidant treatments for schizophrenia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Feb 26;(2):CD008919.

  • Zafarullah M, Li WQ, Sylvester J, Ahmad M. Molecular mechanisms of N-acetylcysteine actions. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2003 Oct;60(1):6-20.

  • Cacciatore I, Cornacchia C, Pinnen F, Mollica A, Di Stefano A. Prodrug approach for increasing cellular glutathione levels. Molecules. 2010 Aug 9;15(8):5865-76.


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