NAC has been in the news A LOT lately especially since amazon took the popular supplement off its “shelves“. What is NAC? NAC stands for N-acetyl-cysteine and comes from the amino acid L-cysteine. Amino acids are the building blocks for proteins within our body. There are essential and non-essential amino acids. There are 9 essential amino acids – meaning the body does not produce these so we must get them from the food we eat. The 9 essential amino acids we must obtain from our diet are: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. The non-essential amino acids (the ones the body can produce on its own) are: arginine, glutamine, tyrosine, cysteine, glycine, proline, serine, ornithine, alanine, asparagine, and aspartate
NAC is a semi-essential amino acid (to make things more confusing). NAC is a precursor to cysteine. Our bodies can make cysteine when we have adequate serine and methionine.
When cysteine is combined with glutamine and glycine our bodies then can form our mega-antioxidant, glutathione. Glutathione helps with detoxification throughout the body and makes our immune system stronger as well as gives our skin a beautiful glow. So NAC is also a precursor to Glutathione to help with detoxification throughout the body to include liver and kidneys and lungs. NAC helps to improve the immune system and brain function as well!
NAC was approved as a drug by the FDA in 1963. With NAC being classified as a drug it cannot be marketed or sold as a supplement. Hence, Amazon could no longer sell supplements containing NAC. This does not make NAC a dangerous substance. In fact, NAC has been used for decades to aid in liver detoxification. As always it is best to consult your practitioner first.