N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is used by the body to build antioxidants. Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that protect and repair cells from damage.
You can get NAC as a supplement or a prescription drug.
Glutathione plays a role in many chemical reactions in your body. It also helps detoxify chemicals, including some that your body creates naturally, as well as pollutants and drugs.
Your supply of glutathione seems to decrease as you get older, possibly because your body can't create as much. Lower glutathione levels appear to go hand-in-hand with poorer health. For instance, lower levels may play a role in many conditions that are more likely to develop in older people.
Your glutathione levels may also decrease during certain health problems, such as:
People also take glutathione to try to treat weakened immune systems or infertility, as well as many other conditions.
Some studies show that glutathione may be effective for helping protect the body from the harmful effects of some cancer treatments. There is not enough research to support other uses for it.
Taking glutathione by mouth does not appear to be an effective way to get it into your body. In one study, giving healthy people 500 milligrams twice a day for a month didn't raise the level of glutathione in their blood.
Some other studies looking at its health effects have used it in injection form or as a treatment inhaled into the lungs.
Certain other supplements may boost your body's production of glutathione, such as: