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What You Need to Know About NAC

by Carly Neubert, BA, NC on December 06, 2023

One of our bestselling Pure Encapsulations products has consistently been NAC. What looks like a simple acronym is more than meets the eye, however. NAC stands for N-Acetyl Cysteine. NAC is the supplement form of cysteine, an amino acid important in metabolic functions for making protein.


NAC is important in the creation of glutathione. You may have seen this antioxidant mentioned once or twice in a previous blog post. NAC also helps your body detox in the pursuit of decreasing liver or kidney damage. This occurs through the prevention of side effects of environmental toxins (pollution) or drugs. Respiratory symptoms can also be alleviated by loosening mucus in air pathways. 

Pure Encapsulations’ NAC formula can promote healthy lung tissue, support tissue detoxing, and assist with antioxidant defense cell systems. According to an article from ScienceDirect, Cysteine can even trap ROS (Reactive Oxygen Metabolite). You can find ROS in instances of oxidative stress. 

If you’ve done some brief Googling on NAC, you’ve probably been overwhelmed by questions and opinions. Here are some of the FAQs I get asked the most in one place - use this article (and a paid consult with me) as your guide in navigating the world of NAC. 


Who should not take NAC?

People who are on blood thinners should avoid NAC. 

Why is NAC so popular?

One of the trends we have seen recently is more people looking into the benefits of glutathione. Because NAC helps replenish levels of glutathione in the body, it has become a popular option for those people.

What does NAC do to the brain?

Brain health can be boosted through NAC supplementation because of its link to glutathione and glutamate. Brain glutamate levels can be better regulated with NAC supplementation. Glutamate plays an important role in brain health, as it is a neurotransmitter that helps your brain function properly. Learning and memory are functions that are shaped and supported by glutamate levels. 

What foods is NAC found in?

NAC is the supplement form of cysteine. Natural sources of cysteine, According to Mount Sinai, include ricotta cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, pork, chicken, turkey, duck, granola, and sausage meat. 

Does NAC deplete magnesium?

There is no credible research at the moment that links NAC to magnesium depletion. 

Can NAC make you sleepy?

While drowsiness was a side effect experienced in a 2011 study for inhaled NAC, recent work from the National Institutes of Health has not listed it as a reported side effect. 

Can NAC cause joint pain?

Reported side effects of NAC, according to the National Institutes of Health, include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, indigestion, and heartburn.

Does NAC deplete zinc?

There was a study done in 2020 to observe the levels of Copper and Zinc in mice when supplementation of NAC was applied. Levels of these two minerals did decrease, but it was by small amounts. What this means for us as humans is when we are experiencing a cold or another illness, we may need to look into additional supplementation with Zinc if we are taking NAC. When older individuals are ill and supplementing with NAC, their levels of Zinc may be even lower than usual. This could prolong the cold.  

Does NAC calm anxiety?

One study showed a dose of 2400mg per day reduced anxiety in schizophrenia and severe autism.  Here is a great article containing multiple studies with suggested doses for anxiety.  I recommend you take on an empty stomach and in 3 divided doses throughout the day.  

What time of day is best to take NAC?

Generally, amino acids should be taken separate from meals in order to make sure that they can be properly absorbed. Pure Encapsulations adheres to this in their recommended dosage of 1 capsule, 1-3 times daily, between meals. This usually means either 30 minutes before you eat, or a couple hours after you eat. 

Concluding Thoughts

NAC has become a hot topic in the supplement world. Whether you have read about it’s journey with the FDA or its benefits for overall wellness and health, NAC should not be overlooked. Schedule a consult with me, Carly Neubert BA, NC. if you have questions about how NAC can help you and your health journey.