NAC Might Impair Nitric Oxide Metabolism
NAC (N-acetylcysteine) is an amino acid derived from L-cysteine, and found in dietary supplements that fight free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive chemicals produced naturally during metabolism. Excessive and chronic elevations of free radicals break down cell membranes, destroy DNA, trigger muscle soreness and protein breakdown, impair the capacity of the immune system and lead to cardiovascular disease. Physicians often use NAC to break up mucus accumulation in the lungs in conditions such as emphysema, pneumonia, bronchitis and tuberculosis. However, a German study from Hannover Medical School found that NAC might interfere with absorption of nitrite in the kidneys, which could have a negative effect on nitric oxide metabolism— an important chemical for tissue blood flow. NAC helps buffer the effect of excessive free radical accumulation, but it could interfere with nitric oxide metabolism.