N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is a supplement and medication that contains the amino acid cysteine. It is a modified form of the amino acid that has been acetylated to improve its absorption in the body. NAC is known for its antioxidant properties and its ability to support various aspects of health.
NAC has multiple mechanisms of action. It serves as a precursor for glutathione, one of the body's most important antioxidants. Glutathione helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals and toxins. NAC also has mucolytic properties, meaning it can help break down and thin mucus, which makes it useful in respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cystic fibrosis.
NAC has been studied for its potential benefits in other conditions, including liver health, mental health, and detoxification processes. It is commonly used as a supplement to support overall well-being, as well as in medical settings for specific therapeutic purposes.