N-acetyl cysteine, known as NAC, is, simply, one of the most underrated supplements out there. Today we are covering everything you need to know about N-acetyl cysteine and the best NAC supplements on the market.
Before we get into what N-acetyl cysteine is, let’s talk about cysteine.
Cysteine is a non-essential amino acid that serves an important role in protein production. It’s found in foods with high protein contents, and it can be produced by the body from other amino acids.
NAC (N-acetyl cysteine) is the supplement form of cysteine.
N-acetyl cysteine helps the body develop antioxidants and provides a wide variety of other health benefits, even ranging into psychiatric and mental health benefits.
It’s a fairly complex mechanism, but a process called oxidation damages cells, and antioxidants, as the term implies, help stop oxidation. This means it improves the health of all of our cells, and explains why antioxidants have such wide-ranging health benefits.
NAC (N-acetyl cysteine) is mostly known for its production of glutathione, an essential antioxidant that reduces free radicals, which causes oxidative stress. You could also supplement with glutathione directly, and you can check out our guide on the best glutathione supplements for that.
Glutathione works wonders for your immune health, which is why taking a NAC supplement can help fight against a variety of illnesses affecting the lungs, liver, heart, and brain.
For example, one study showed that taking NAC can help treat liver disorders because of its antioxidant-boosting qualities. Another study on NAC also showed that it alleviated symptoms of chronic lung disorders like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or bronchitis by clearing mucus from the passageways.
In addition, taking N-acetyl cysteine can fight against heart disease because its glutathione-boosting qualities help decrease oxidative damage (an imbalance of free radicals that can lead to heart disorders).
Its ability to encourage glutathione production also makes NAC good for memory retention. In fact, research shows that taking N-acetyl cysteine can potentially slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Lastly, NAC has been linked to improving fertility and reducing symptoms of mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and substance abuse. It’s becoming increasingly popular in psychiatric contexts, and since it’s a safe, over-the-counter supplement, those with mental health disorders can see improvements without much downside.
So, yeah. This supplement truly can treat it all. There’s even research with NAC on specific disorders like trichotillomania, or obsessive hair pulling.
However, you don’t need to have a health disorder to benefit from taking a NAC supplement. In fact, its wide-ranging effects speak to its breadth of benefits for so many people.
The bottom line is it prevents cell damage and boosts immune health, and in that process can improve almost everything about our overall health.
*Note: We do have affiliate links throughout this article, which means we receive a commission if you purchase from any of our links. This supports our mission to bring complicated health and fitness info in an entertaining package. And it keeps us from putting up annoying things like banner ads. Those suck.
Now let’s get into the best NAC supplements on the market.
Buy 1 Get 1 Sale: Seeking Health NAC is also available for a BOGO sale right now.
Seeking Health NAC contains the active “L” form of NAC, N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine. In the metabolism of NAC into glutathione, it’s the cysteine that’s important, and Seeking Health’s product recognizes this by having cysteine in its free-from.
It’s manufactured in the USA and third-party tested not just for purity and potency, but also for heavy metals and microbials.
With 500mg per capsule and 90 capsules per bottle, with their BOGO offer, Seeking Health NAC gives you the best value on the market with top-notch quality.
First, NOW Foods is one of the most reputable, long-standing supplement companies out there. In terms of overall quality and efficacy, you know that what’s one the label is exactly what you’re getting.
Second, this NAC supplement contains selenium and molybdenum, which are minerals that protect against cell damage and help the body process protein, respectively. In fact, a lot of research shows positive impacts when NAC is combined with selenium, like this study Like NAC, selenium and molybdenum also defend your cells, and they may work in tandem to be even more effective.
NOW’s NAC supplement is also a great value. It’s only a few bucks (NAC is not expensive to produce, so no products should cost that much), and you get an efficacious 600mg dose per serving.
Plus, the capsule is vegetarian-friendly.
Each bottle contains a fifty-day supply if you take the recommended amount of two capsules per day.
Double Wood’s NAC supplement provides both quality and quantity. Each of their products is tested for purity and manufactured in the USA. And if it ends up not being for you, Double Wood offers a money-back guarantee, which shows they’re confident in their product.
If you are new to taking NAC supplements, this is a good product to start with. Each bottle contains over 100 servings if you take the recommended two 500 mg capsules per day.
For the combination of quality and price, it’s an excellent choice.
If you’re looking for the best value on the market, you won’t beat Pure Bulk’s NAC. Their NAC comes in both capsules and pure powder.
It’s especially the best deal out there if you go with the powder option. NAC is completely tasteless, but I still recommend throwing it into a protein shake, smoothie, or other drink.
Pure Bulk also has strict, third-party testing on all of their products.
Thorne’s NAC supplement is a good gluten-free option. Each bottle includes ninety capsules containing 500 mg each, and the recommended amount varies from one to two capsules a day. This variation allows you to try out different doses and see what works best for you.
With sixty capsules containing 600 mg each, Life Extension’s NAC supplement is the most affordable and reliable product on the market. It is another gluten-free option, and the capsules’ ingredients are easy to absorb. Plus, it has over 4,000 positive reviews.
If you want a supplement brand that provides options, Natural Factors is for you. Their NAC supplement comes in both 500 mg and 600 mg bottles. The recommended amount ranges from one to three capsules a day, so you can safely test out what dose works best for you.
It also lives up to its “natural” brand name. It is vegetarian-friendly and contains no artificial colors, preservatives, sweeteners, soy, or dairy.
Dr. Mercola’s NAC supplement contains 300 mg of milk thistle in each capsule, which is a plant derivative that improves liver functioning. This combined with 500 mg of N-acetyl cysteine makes Dr. Mercola’s the best NAC supplement on the market for specifically targeting the liver.
If you are looking for the most affordable cost, Mason Natural’s NAC supplement is for you. It is free of peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, egg, starch, sugar, fragrances, and preservatives. In other words, it has the N-acetyl cysteine you’re looking for (500 mg of it) and nothing else.
There aren’t many bulk options for N-acetyl cysteine supplements on the market. Lake Avenue Nutrition’s NAC supplement, however, is a great substitute. It contains 120 capsules with 600 mg each to provide a four-month supply. It also contains selenium and molybdenum, which enhances the supplement’s strength.
N-acetyl cysteine is considered to be a safe supplement. However, the supplement could interact with certain blood thinners and blood medications, so you should consult a health care provider before taking NAC.
N-acetyl cysteine can cause side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, and tiredness if taken in large doses. It has also been reported to have an unpleasant odor.
Experiences vary from person to person. If you want a supplement that encourages whole body health, a NAC supplement is definitely worth a try.
Obviously, the answer to this is it depends. However, to make your decision it can help to understand the mechanisms at play. While complex, this jist is that NAC helps accelerate taking the broken down components of glutathione, and turning them back into glutathione. In theory, this increases glutathione in the blood. This is good news, and based on the research, NAC definitely increases glutathione production overall.
But why not just increase glutathione directly? Well, many glutathione supplements get broken down in the digestion process before they make it to the blood, so if you choose glutathione, you’ll want to choose a product that focuses on bioavailability.
We cover which products we think are the best in our article on the top glutathione supplements.
As we said, NAC has a wide range of benefits. For example, a dose of 2,400mg per day of NAC has been shown to support cannabis use disorder, per recent research on NAC and substance abuse disorders. The proposed mechanism for this may even extend to support other addictions or abuse disorders.