Here at OVitaminPro, we’ve been using neurotransmitter support for the better part of two decades, so I am always interested in what other professionals have to say on the topic. I subscribe to a newsletter from Dr. H, who has been heavily invested in neurotransmitter testing and treatment for more than 20 years and has published several peer-reviewed articles on the topic.
One of the topics that Dr. H mentions periodically is glutathione. While he acknowledges the importance of glutathione, unlike just about everybody else writing on the topic, he sees no reason to use N-acetyl-cysteine, or NAC.
NAC seems to work in two primary ways. One is the glutathione pathway and the other is the glutamathergic system. NAC is a precursor to cysteine and the amount of cysteine is a rate-limiting step in glutathione production. We have several blogs and videos on glutathione as it is the key antixoidant and detox agent in the body. The other thing NAC does is modulate glutamate in the brain. High levels of glutamate have been indicated in physiological disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and some compulsive disorders. NAC and these effects have been and continue to be the subject of a fair amount of promising research.
Although NAC can be converted to cysteine, which is one of the three amino acids that make up glutathione, research shows that just adding NAC to your supplement regimen doesn’t seem to automatically increase intracellular levels of glutathione. Enter ALA or alpha lipoic acid. ALA is a powerful antioxidant in its own right but also has some other key benefits. ALA is sometimes referred to as a glutathione synthesis cofactor.
ALA also helps recycle other antioxidants such as glutathione cofactors vitamin C and vitamin E and also coQ-10 from its oxidized (inactive) state to reduced (active) state. Alpha lipoic acid is recycled itself by glutathione, vitamin C and vitamin E so these biochemicals work synergistically.
This article began talking about NAC vs cysteine. If that topic didn’t seem like a straight line to the conclusion, welcome to the path this investigation took to help come up with a reasonable suggestion for your better health.
After spending a fair amount of time looking at cysteine vs N-acetyl-cysteine, I have concluded that there is just too much research on the benefits of NAC to disregard it as Dr. H would recommend. To improve your chances of having good glutathione levels and therefore better overall health, you will do well to add NAC and alpha lipoic acid to your daily regimen.
One product that could work for you is NuMedica Liver Defend. It contains 250 mg of NAC and 200 mg of alpha lipoic acid. It also contains selenium and Silymarin. If you are OK with extra ingredients, this will be a good way to go. Take one to two caps a day. If you just want the NAC and ALA, you can get NuMedica NAC and Alpha Lipoic Acid. Many studies suggest that 200-300 mg a day of ALA will stimulate an increase so maybe get the 100 mg caps and take two to three of those a day with two to three NAC a day. If you are taking a liposomal glutathione like NuMedica Liposomal Glutathione or EuroMedica Clinical Glutathione, I would still take a little NAC and ALA as glutathione is so critical for your health that a belt-an-suspenders approach will still serve you.