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What is NAC Supplement And What Brand Owners Must Know About it

Last updated: December-9,2022

What Are NAC or N-Acetyl-L-cysteine Supplements?

New trends are constantly emerging in the supplement industry, and chances are you've recently heard some chatter about N-Acetylcysteine, or NAC. Although it has been there for a while, many firms weren't aware of some of the benefits until lately. Before we dive into the benefits and what’s in it for brand owners, let’s understand what NAC is.

Cysteine is a naturally occurring antioxidant typically found in high-protein meals like beef, chicken, and eggs and is also available in supplement form. It is considered a semi-essential or conditional amino acid, as the body can synthesize this amino acid with the help of serine and methionine. However, the amino acid’s N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC) form is only found in supplement form. It is not created by the body but serves an important function.[i] Our body uses N-acetyl-l-cysteine to produce antioxidants that are needed to protect and repair the cells of our body.[ii] As more people became aware of NAC supplements' possible uses and benefits, their popularity increased.

Uses And Benefits of NAC Supplements

Improves Glutathione Antioxidant

With the help of glutamine and glycine, NAC supplements help replenish glutathione, an important antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals that can cause tissue and cell damage in the body. Some research states that it is also beneficial in promoting immune health. The antioxidant properties of glutathione also benefit people with oxidative stress.[iii]

Promotes Healthy Brain Function

Along with replenishing glutathione levels, another health benefit of NAC supplements is that they aid in regulating glutamate. This may help support brain health.[iv]

Supports Cardiovascular Health

By reducing oxidative stress, NAC is able to support cardiovascular health. It may also help in the production of nitric oxide, an important biochemical for promoting healthy circulation. In addition, NAC may help promote healthy homocysteine levels already in a normal range, which is important for maintaining cardiovascular health.

Promotes Reproductive Health

Studies have indicated that men supplemented with selenium and NAC supplements had better semen quality.[v] This may help support male reproductive health.[vi]

Supports Healthy Immune Function

In individuals with insufficient amounts of glutathione, research has shown that NAC helped promote CD4+ cells, a type of immune helper T cells important to immune response to foreign invaders. Likewise, NAC supported the function of other immune cells know as neutrophils and mononueclear cells. Also, NAC was found to be effective in promoting cell-mediated immunity when used for six months.

Detoxifies the Liver and Kidneys

NAC is also helpful in supporting the body’s detoxification mechanisms. Specifically, it supports the “sulfation pathway”, which detoxifies food additives, toxins from intestinal bacteria and the environment, and normal body chemicals. NAC forms conjugates of natural bile acids as part of the sulfation pathway, helping to eliminate the toxins from the body.

FDA Guidance on NAC Supplements

In the spring of 2021, FDA claimed that the ingredient could not be promoted as a dietary supplement because it was initially approved as a medicine, sparking a dispute with the industry. In August 2022, a final stance was taken concerning the agency’s interpretation of NAC. In their final decision, the FDA stated that NCA would not be excluded from being called a dietary supplement if they did not find safety-related concerns. The entire controversy left Amazon, a giant in online retail, in a tight spot as a result.[vii]

Amazon’s Stance on Selling NAC Supplements

Amazon has resumed selling dietary supplements containing NAC following a one-year break. The online retail giant has an intensive set of guidelines for selling and marketing dietary supplements on its platform. And after the FDA announced that NAC supplements contained ingredients not considered legal dietary ingredients, Amazon removed the products from their virtual shelves in May 2021.[viii] Millions of dollars in sales were lost for supplement businesses as a result of Amazon removing NAC supplements off its marketplace. NPA used this as one of the grounds for its citizen petition to the FDA and subsequent lawsuit against the agency. Many customers argued for the retention of NAC as dietary supplements in comments they submitted to the FDA in response to a draught recommendation.

However, after the recent developments, Amazon has reopened its doors for NAC supplements, increasing the urgency for brand owners to create their products and use the current buzz around the ingredient to increase sales.

The FDA stated in the guidance that it does not aim to raise concerns about the sale of a NAC-containing product marketed as a dietary supplement simply because "the product is designed to impact the structure or any function of the body of man."

The N-acetylcysteine market was estimated to be worth $1083.78 million in 2021 and is anticipated to reach $4236.19 million by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 21.50% from 2022 to 2028. Amazon’s stand, FDA’s latest guidance, and the estimated market growth in the future have added to the sigh of relief in the industry. In an effort to capitalize on the buzz around NAC supplements, more brand owners are stepping forward with their products. This has raised the bar in the current competitive landscape for selling NAC supplements on Amazon.

Insights For Brand Owners

As seen above, NAC supplements possess a myriad of health benefits, making them the ideal product for supplement brand owners to add to their product line. In the past year, the NAC supplement trend has seen a growth of 37%.

NAC supplements trendsSource: Google Trends

Another indication that consumer interest in NAC supplements is strong is the number of times the term is searched in Google. Our data indicates that the average monthly search volume on Google for NAC supplements this year has been approximately 23,000, which is significantly higher than what we have seen in prior years. Brands would be wise to capitalize on this interest by creating a high-quality NAC dietary supplement.

How Can NutraScience Labs Help You?

The team at NutraScience Labs possesses over 120 years of nutraceutical industry experience and has provided more than 2,300 supplement brands with exemplary turnkey services, including manufacturing, packaging, label design, and fulfillment under one roof. Call us today at (855) 492-7388 or request a free manufacturing price quote to learn more about how we can custom manufacture a high-quality NAC supplement for you today!


[i] [iv] [v]https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-nac

[ii] https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/n-acetyl-cysteine-uses-and-risks

[iii] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/nac-benefits#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2

[vi] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/nac-benefits#TOC_TITLE_HDR_7

[vii] https://www.nutritioninsight.com/news/fda-to-exercise-enforcement-discretion-over-contentious-nac-industry-urges-agency-to-learn-its-lesson.html

[viii] https://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Article/2022/08/25/NAC-supplements-back-on-Amazon


December 9th, 2022

About the Author:

Gene Bruno

Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, RH(AHG) - Mr. Bruno possesses over 43 years of dietary supplement industry experience. With a Master's degree in nutrition and a second Master's degree in herbal medicine, he has a proven track record of formulating innovative, evidence-based dietary supplements. Mr. Bruno currently serves as both the Senior Director of Product Innovation at Twinlab Corporation and Professor of Nutraceutical Science at Huntington University of Health Sciences.