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N-Acetyl Cysteine has been shown to provide protection against free radicals as well as a broad range of toxic hazards such as: acrolein (found in barbecue and cigarette smoke and auto exhaust), bromobenzene, paraquat (a toxic herbicide), overdoses of acetaminophen, and the side-effects of cyclophosphamide and adrimycin (anti-cancer drugs).
The key to this protection may be the sulfur and sulfhydryl groups contained in N-Acetyl Cysteine and its derivative, Glutathione. Both Cysteine and Methionine are good precursors of glutathione, but N-Acetyl Cysteine is better. L-cysteine loses approximately 85% of its sulfur group (which becomes the active part of glutathione) in the digestion process, while N-Acetyl Cysteine, a more stable compound, loses only 15%. This means that N-Acetyl Cysteine has almost six times more effective sulfur groups left after digestion.
N-Acetyl Cysteine is also a better source of glutathione than taking glutathione itself, because less than half of supplementalt glutathione gets out of the digestive system and into the body. This greater efficiency is important since cellular glutathione levels tend to drop 30% to 35% with age. Supplemental N-Acetyl Cysteine may have an anti-aging effect by increasing glutathione levels in the liver, lungs, kidneys and bone marrow.
NAC is currently the dietary supplement of choice for building up or conserving the body's stores of glutathion, cysteine, and other sulfhydryl antioxidant resources. NAC is well tolerated, is well absorbed, resists enzymatic breakdown, and has been proven to raise internal GSH and cysteine levels when taken orally.
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