Cysteine ​​– what it is, what it is for, benefits, foods and deficiency

Cysteine ​​( NAC ) is a water – soluble , non-essential, sulfur-containing amino acid, a powerful antioxidant. Therapeutically, it may be more interesting because of its effectiveness and its broad scope. The amino acid’s excellent ability to remove harmful substances from the body makes it suitable for both cancer prevention and treatment. Removes heavy metals, protects against smoking and alcohol, deactivates free radicals and protects against X-rays and nuclear radiation.

Sulfur-containing substances with detoxifying effects are widely used in nature, and they have likely been used to prevent and treat disease as long as mankind has been able to experiment with healthier ones. Garlic , used since ancient Egypt, is the classic example, but many others could be mentioned. It has been used against a wide variety of ailments, from psoriasis and gout to mental illness.

What is cysteine?

All proteins are made up of simple components called amino acids. Cysteine ​​( NAC ) is an amino acid produced by the body or taken from food by external sources. This amino acid has some physiological roles.

If a person’s diet does not contain sufficient amounts of vitamin B6 , vitamin B12 and folic acid , the body may have problems producing cysteine . As this amino acid plays an important role in the production of antioxidants called glutione, its deficiency can cause this antioxidant to decrease .

Glutione acts as a powerful antioxidant , helping the body fight free radicals, harmful compounds that can damage cell membranes and DNA. In addition to its antioxidant role , glutione may also help fight aging as well as health issues such as heart disease and cancer. According to some researchers, it is also beneficial to be taken as an external food supplement.

What is cysteine ​​used for?

Cysteine ​​has several  functions in the body, among other things it contributes to the formation of new skin and more than 10% of hair consists of NAC. Sulfur is included in the connective tissue that builds skin and hair, and Cysteine  ​​is one of the main sulfur carriers of amino acids. In addition, Cysteine  ​​acts as an antioxidant and helps protect cells from free radical degradation.

Cysteine ​​is  also included as a component of GTF (Glucose Tolerance Factor). GTF is released simultaneously as insulin and is necessary for cells to take up glucose from the blood. It also affects other nutrients for the metabolism of vitamin B6 in the body, as well as helping with the absorption of zinc from food. In addition, the amino acid is present in several of our digestive enzymes that are necessary to allow us to digest food and absorb nutrition properly.

The difference between cystine and cysteine  ​​can be difficult to explain. Cystine is a more stable form of the amino acid, as Cysteine  ​​has a high sulfur content. However, cystine is not as potent an antioxidant as Cysteine . Free cystine in the body can form Cysteine  ​​as needed and for this it requires the presence of vitamin C.

Cysteine ​​Benefits:

The amino acid helps to promote antioxidant activity in the body. As an important component of glutathione, Cysteine  ​​has many important physiological functions. Glutathione formed from cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine is found in all human tissues. However, the highest concentrations exist in the liver and eyes.

Glutathione is a potent antioxidant that, for example, protects adipose tissue from the harmful effects of free radicals, which can occur in arteriosclerosis and cancer. It also protects the liver and brain from toxins from alcohol and cigarette use. The amino acid is still effective in treating back pain .

People suffering from diabetes should be careful when taking this supplement because it can inactivate insulin. People with AIDS/HIV, however, can benefit from Cysteine  ​​in the right amount, as it has been reported to be very low in the body with this disease.

Cysteine-rich foods:

The main foods rich in Cysteine  ​​are:

  • Cashew nut;
  • Milk and its derivatives;
  • Whole grains;
  • Nuts ;
  • Brazil nut;
  • Almonds;
  • Hazelnut;
  • garlic ;
  • Peanut;
  • Purple Onion;
  • broccoli ;
  • Brussels sprouts.

Therapeutic dose of cysteine:

Start with 500 mg a day – to avoid digestive problems – and increase to 3 or 4 g daily. Individual researchers used doses of up to 7 g per day.

Cysteine ​​deficiency:

Useful links: 

Despite all the advantages mentioned above, high doses of the amino acid can be harmful, causing adverse effects. It is worth remembering that the supplement is considered safe and its contraindication is rare. Side effects are most seen when its intake exceeds 7000 mg per day, in which case it can be toxic.

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