NAC (N-Acetylcysteine): The Best Glutathione Supplement

Jun 5, 2023 | autoimmune disease, Glutathione, inflammation, Nutritional Supplements

This blog addresses a common question about what is the best glutathione supplement and the answer is NAC (N-Acetylcysteine) but technically it is not a glutathione supplement.  This blog will explain:

  • why I recommend NAC when you are low in glutathione
  • blood work indicators you may be low in glutathione
  • life indicators you may be low in glutathione
  • areas of the body impacted by low glutathione
  • how to use NAC to increase glutathione levels

Let’s dive in.

Understanding Glutathione

Glutathione is the most potent thing your body can make to get rid of inflammation. Technically, it is the most potent free radical scavenger in the body. The production of free radicals leads to oxidative stress, which in turn produces inflammation.

So, essentially, Glutathione is the most powerful thing your body can create to get rid of inflammation.

The Challenge of Oral Glutathione

But people ask, should I use a Glutathione supplement? One of the challenges of Glutathione, when you take it orally, is that the stomach acid dissolves it, and it can’t get into your system.

Recent Advancements: Liposomal Forms of Glutathione

Now, some workarounds have been developed more recently, where they produced what they call liposomal forms of Glutathione. They take the Glutathione molecule and surround it by a fat layer, so that it can get past the stomach acid to get into the intestine and be absorbed by the system.

I Recommend N-Acetylcysteine (NAC)

Despite recent advances in liposomal forms of Glutathione, I don’t tend to use Glutathione orally. We tend to use NAC, N-Acetylcysteine.

NAC-N-AcetylcysteineThe reason I do that is N-Acetylcysteine, taken orally, gets past the stomach acid, gets into the system, and then converts to Glutathione.

NAC vs Glutathione

Why would you want to use NAC instead of Glutathione? What’s the difference if Glutathione is getting in through the mouth vs. getting into the system because NAC converts it?


Well, one reason it is better is because for Glutathione to get rid of a bit of inflammation, it has to donate something. But to do it again, it has to have that thing donated back. Otherwise, the Glutathione is kind of like a one and done, getting rid of inflammation, then it’s not good anymore.  This means you have to continually keep taking Glutathione if you struggle with inflammation and low Glutathione levels. 

What Makes N-Acetylcysteine Awesome

NAC not only converts to Glutathione, but when Glutathione donates what’s needed to put away inflammation, NAC is right there to donate that thing back to Glutathione again. So it gets a chance to get rid of inflammation over and over and over and over again. It allows Glutathione to recycle and be used over and over and over again versus just a one and done.  I love helping you utilize supplements in the most effective ways and using NAC to increase Glutathione levels is a very effective approach. Which is why I referred to NAC as the best Glutathione supplement! 

Health Issues and Glutathione Deficiency

If you’re getting a lot of health issues, you can probably bet that you’re low on Glutathione.  If you’ve experienced a lot of chronic stress, it’s a good guess you are low in Glutathione. But if you want to know for sure, you can have basic labs run and it’s easy to see the markers that indicate low Glutathione. 

You can also check out my blog on what on what blood tests to run for reversing and preventing all types of autoimmune and chronic disease.  Don’t guess. Test. 

Indicators of Glutathione Deficiency: Kidney Health

The liver and the kidney are particularly sensitive to Glutathione deficiencies. So if you do a simple blood test, which the lab may call a comprehensive metabolic panel, which is giving you the sodium, potassium, chloride, that kind of stuff. But it also gives you something called GFR, which is a filtration rate in the kidney. You want to be more than 90.

If your range is between 60 and 89, you have mild kidney damage. 30 to 59 is moderate kidney damage, 29 or less is severe kidney damage. Unfortunately, some labs may only say that you are above 60 (>60) and consider that being fine. 

Basically, what they say is you’re above 60, you may have mild kidney damage but they’re okay with that. Really silly. 

The best labs will say if you’re more than 90, you’re good, which is what you want.

Now if you’re not more than 90, you basically know you’re probably low on Glutathione because the kidneys are suffering from a lack of Glutathione to put out inflammation within the kidneys and the kidneys aren’t so happy.

Addressing Glutathione Deficiency & NAC Dosages

If you know you have low Glutathione, you know you have inflammation in a lot of different places. 

You may be saying to yourself “I’m really not feeling the greatest.”

Well when you see a GFR less than 90.  The kidney is kind of going, “Hey, I’m the kidney, I’m not happy either.”

So usually, you can fix these kidney issues as long as you can get rid of inflammation in the body, but that’s usually an indication that you want to start using NAC one capsule twice a day.

Using NAC for Overall Health

If you have to help the kidneys get better, that the kidneys need Glutathione, there is a really good chance the rest of the body does too.  It’s important that the NAC supplement you take is of nutraceutical quality.  In my blog on the importance of having well functioning Vitamin D receptor sensitivity, I explain why you can never reverse chronic disease with over-the-counter supplements and nutraceuticals are a must. 

Indicators of Glutathione Deficiency: Liver Health

The other thing you’re probably going to see on a blood test, that same chem package which I mentioned above. There are two different liver proteins that get tested. They go by different names SGOT, SGPT, ALT, AST, and if those are high, kind of out of the range high, you’ve got liver inflammation.

NAC Dosages to Improve Liver Health

Well, if you’ve got liver inflammation, we pretty much know that you are low on Glutathione.  Which is another reason to start the NAC. Now if you’ve got high inflammation markers, liver inflammation, the rule of thumb is you’d rather not piss off your liver. Right?

So maybe you want to use two capsules twice a day. Until the next time we do blood work maybe three months and see if those inflammation markers have gone back down to not being high.

Liver Health Continued

Now also remember there’s always a sweet spot. You don’t want to be too high or too low on anything, it’s the same thing with these liver proteins. 

If you’re running high, liver inflammation. But if you’re going too low, you’re kind of out of the range low, or sometimes the labs will say “as long as you’re not high you’re fine on these liver proteins.” I disagree, you don’t want to be too low either.

NAC Dosages if You Have Low Lab Markers

If your labs show you are less than 15 to 20, it’s an indication your liver is having a hard time making these two important proteins and most likely it’s having a hard time making other important proteins. Which makes me always think well probably your liver is having a hard time making this Glutathione.

Then that’s also the indication for the NAC one capsule twice a day as well.

You can tell by your labs but also kind of how you feel if your body has been under chronic stress and duress long enough to be not feeling good. Then you’re probably low on some Glutathione and the NAC might be a really good option to try to get rid of this inflammation.

Kidneys will be happier, liver will be happier and the rest of your body will be happier and because the liver now is uber happy, it’s gonna make enough Glutathione on its own long term for you to stay healthy. 

Remember the goal:  Supplements (except for Vitamin D) should almost always be temporary to help you restore your health to its natural state of well being. 

There are a lot of other Functional Medicine fundamentals you can do (in addition to supplementation) to help rapidly shift the trajectory of your health.  To learn the fundamentals, check out my free 7-Day Educational Email Course

“Got a Revolution, got to Revolution.”  Jefferson Airplane

Dr. David Bilstrom
Autoimmune Functional Medicine Doctornatural treatment for autoimmune disease by Dr David Bilstrom Functional Medicine Doctor MD



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