Do you want to know which dietary supplement can help boost your immune system? Here you go, "N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC)" can! Oral administration of NAC improved significantly cell-mediated immunity and decreased the frequency of flu-like symptoms and severity. We here share with you what N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) is, and what are the benefits associated with this powerful dietary supplement.
What’s NAC and its benefits?
N-Acetyl-Cysteine or NAC is a supplement form of the amino acid “L-Cysteine” found in the human body. By taking NAC, your liver and kidney will convert it into L-cysteine which in turn will be converted into glutathione to support your body's immune system and help against DNA damage caused by free radicals. Recent scientific results also show that NAC inhibits muscle fatigue and can be used to enhance performance in endurance exercise and training.
As mentioned in the journal “Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management”, NAC can boost the immune system. In 1997, De Flora and his collaborators demonstrated that by orally administering 600 mg NAC every day, it significantly improved cell-mediated immunity, shifting from anergy to normoergy in seniors (Figure 1A). 21 Anergy represents a lack of reaction from immune cells to foreign substances, such as bacteria and viruses. Unsurprisingly, NAC treatment significantly decreased the frequency of influenza virus, as well as the severity and duration of most symptoms (Figure 1B). Although the infection rates of influenza virus (H1N1) were similar in the two groups, among the infected subjects, only 25% in the NAC group developed flu symptoms, contrasting with 79% in the placebo group. As a result, NAC may improve compromised cellular immunity and prevent the development of certain respiratory virus-caused diseases.
According to PubChem, NAC is also a general antioxidant that can help mitigate symptoms from a variety of diseases exacerbated by reactive oxygen species (ROS). For example, NAC is commonly used in people with renal impairment to prevent the precipitation of acute kidney failure. NAC has been shown efficacy in treating mild to moderate traumatic brain injury including ischemic brain injury, particularly in reducing neuronal losses, cognitive and neurological symptoms when administered promptly after injury.
Currently, NAC is widely used in the treatment of HIV, and it has reported efficacy in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and contrast-induced nephropathy. Furthermore, NAC was successfully used to treat a variety of neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders including cocaine, cannabis, and smoking addictions, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, autism, compulsive and grooming disorders, schizophrenia depression, and bipolar disorder. Upon all the benefits that NAC can bring, it is mostly regarded as a drug because of its proven efficacy and potential in the treatment of various diseases. However, this simple molecule NAC is just a supplement form of the L-cysteine that our body already has.