Most people do not need to supplement with cysteine. Almost nothing is known about appropriate supplemental levels, in part because almost all clinical research has been done with N-acetyl cysteine and not cysteine itself.
Where to Find It
The body can synthesize cysteine from methionine and other building blocks. Cysteine, the amino acid from which NAC is derived, is found in most high-protein foods.
According to several studies, blood levels of cysteine and glutathione are low in people infected with HIV.1, 2, 3 Cysteine has a role in the proper function of the immune system, so a deficiency of this amino acid may either contribute to, or result from, immune suppression associated with HIV.
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
Adequate amounts of methionine are needed in the diet, as the precursor to cysteine, to prevent cysteine deficiency.
Interactions with Medicines
As of the last update, we found no reported interactions between this supplement and medicines. It is possible that unknown interactions exist. If you take medication, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
No consistent adverse effects of NAC have been reported in humans. One small study found that daily amounts of 1.2 grams or more could lead to oxidative damage.4 Extremely large amounts of cysteine, the amino acid NAC is derived from, may be toxic to nerve cells in rats.5
The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2014.
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