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Also indexed as: Acetylcysteine, NAC
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is an altered form of the amino acid cysteine, which is commonly found in food
and synthesized by the body.
Where is it found?
Cysteine, the amino acid from which NAC is derived, is found in most
high-protein foods. NAC is not found in the diet.
N-acetyl cysteine has been
used in connection with the following conditions (refer to the
individual health concern for complete information):
Who is likely to be deficient?
Deficiencies of NAC have not been defined and may not exist. Deficiencies of the related amino acidcysteine have been reported in HIV-infected patients.1
How much is usually taken?
Healthy people do not need to supplement NAC. Optimal levels of supplementation remain
unknown, though much of the research uses 250–1,500 mg per day.
Are there any side effects or interactions?
One study reported that 19% of people taking NAC orally experienced nausea, vomiting,
headache, dry mouth, dizziness, or abdominal pain.2 These symptoms have not been
consistently reported by other researchers, however.
Although a great deal of research has shown that NAC has antioxidant activity, one small study found that daily
amounts of 1.2 grams or more could lead to increased oxidative stress.3
Extremely large amounts of cysteine, the amino acid from which NAC is derived, may be
toxic to nerve cells in rats.
NAC may increase urinary zinc excretion.4 Therefore, supplemental zinc and
copper should be added when supplementing with NAC for extended periods.
Are there any drug
Certain medicines may interact with N-Acetyl Cysteine. Refer to drug interactions for a list of those medicines.
1. de Quay B, Malinverni R, Lauterburg BH. Glutathione depletion in
HIV-infected patients: role of cysteine deficiency and effect of oral N-acetylcysteine.
2. Tattersall AB, Bridgman KM, Huitson A. Acetylcysteine (Fabrol) in
chronic bronchitis—a study in general practice. J Int Med Res
3. Kleinveld HA, Demacker PNM, Stalenhoef AFH. Failure of
N-acetylcysteine to reduce low-density lipoprotein oxidizability in healthy subjects. Eur
J Clin Pharmacol 1992;43:639–42.
4. Brumas V, Hacht B, Filella M, Berthon G. Can N-acetyl-L-cysteine
affect zinc metabolism when used as a paracetamol antidote? Agents Actions