Glutathione vs NAC: What's the Difference? (2022)

What's the difference between glutathione and NAC? We will cover the essentials and explain about each of these nutrients below. 

NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine)

N-acetyl L-cysteine (NAC) is a precursor of glutathione, helps to replenish intracellular glutathione, a vital cellular antioxidant. 

Cysteine is a semi-essential amino acid. It’s considered semi-essential because your body can produce it from other amino acids, namely methionine and serine. It becomes essential only when the dietary intake of methionine and serine is low.

There is no specific dietary recommendation for cysteine because your body can produce small amounts.

For your body to make the amino acid cysteine, you need adequate amounts of folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. These nutrients can be found in beans, lentils, spinach, bananas, salmon and tuna.

While most protein-rich foods, such as chicken, turkey, yogurt, cheese, eggs, sunflower seeds and legumes, contain cysteine, some people choose to supplement with NAC to increase their cysteine intake.

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a supplement form of cysteine. NAC has low bioavailability as an oral supplement, meaning that it’s not well absorbed. The accepted daily supplement recommendation is 600–1,800 mg of NAC (Source, Source).

NAC can be administered as an IV or taken orally, as an aerosol spray or in liquid or powder form.

Consuming adequate cysteine and NAC is important for a variety of health reasons — including replenishing the most powerful antioxidant in your body, glutathione.

NAC is valued primarily for its role in antioxidant production. Along with two other amino acids — glutamine and glycine — NAC is needed to make and replenish glutathione.

Glutathione is one of the body’s most important antioxidants, which helps neutralize free radicals that can damage cells and tissues in your body.

People with bleeding disorders or taking blood thinning medications should not take NAC, as it may slow blood clotting (Source).

NAC has an unpleasant smell that makes it hard to consume. If you choose to take it, consult with your doctor first.


Glutathione or GSH (tripeptide of glutamic acid, cysteine, and glycine) is referred to as the body’s “master antioxidant” or the “mother of all antioxidants” because it is your body’s primary and most prevalent protector, found in all mammalian tissue.

Types of Glutathione

There is a lot of confusion about GSH and what makes an effective glutathione supplement. There are different types, different formulas, and a lot of different companies saying different things.

L-Glutathione or Reduced Glutathione because it is the most commonly found, least expensive, and the true core behind other forms you will find. There is some debate whether L-Glutathione alone can be effective taken orally. The theory being the enzymes in your stomach break it down before it can ever reach the blood stream and become useful. Some evidence suggests using newer technology and measurement technique that reduced glutathione will actually be absorbed.

Liposomal glutathione is a form of glutathione with a protective barrier made of a fat that keeps it safe in transport through the stomach lining and into the blood stream. It's normally paired with Phosphatidylcholine, which creates the protective lipid layer. This technique is used in other medical technologies like vaccines. and should prove an effective way to protect the sensitive glutathione molecule.

Acetyl-Glutathione is an acetylated form of glutathione. Adding an acetyl function group to an existing molecule is something that has been done in medicine for many years. In fact “acetyl” is the difference between heroine and morphine. You have probably used an acetylated product in the form of acetyl-salicylic acid… or aspirin. The concept is the acetyl function group makes the molecule more stable and enhances delivery through the blood stream including to the brain. Unfortunately there are very few studies regarding acetyl-glutathione but the science behind it is strong, and anecdotal evidence would suggest this is the best glutathione form currently in supplements. It also tends to come at a higher price due to a more complicated production.

Whey Protein is technically a glutathione precursor. Whey protein get it’s own category because it’s so significant as one of the first and best ways to promote glutathione production in your body. Only a few years ago, the only reliable and simple way to boost GSH was to consume a good quality non-denatured whey protein powder. Cysteine tends to be the limiting factor in GSH production, and is found in good quality whey, making it strong healthy source of a good amino acid profile that boosts glutathione.

For more detailed info on glutathione, check out Essential Glutathione: The Mother of All Antioxidants

Glutathione vs NAC

Taking glutathione by mouth does not appear to be an effective way to get it into your body. Its bioavailability is low and is also thought that glutathione may be broken down by enzymes in the stomach.

NAC has a low molecular weight and is well absorbed via oral administration.

NAC, Glutathione and COVID-19

As of May 2022, there have been more than 10 published studies of NAC against COVID-19. For a compilation of treatment studies of NAC for COVID-19, check out the list of studies here

NAC may protect against coagulation problems associated with COVID-19, as it has both anticoagulant (source) and thrombolytic effects (source), meaning it may both prevent clots and break up clots that have already formed.

An in vitro study from India (July 2020) indicated that NAC weakens the binding of spike protein with ACE2 (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2) receptors. This provides evidence for the plausible protective virtue of N-acetyl cysteine against Covid-19.

Studies published in ACS Infectious Disease (ACS Infect Dis. 2020) and Antioxidants proposed that glutathione plays a crucial role in the body's fight against the severe inflammatory response triggered by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The research group in the ACS Infectious Disease study called it the “most likely cause of serious manifestations and deaths in COVID-19 patients.”
NAC inhibits cellular entry and replication of some respiratory viruses, assists in clearing thickened mucous from the airways, suppresses inflammatory signaling, and may help mitigate viral infection-induced cytokine storm (source).

N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is a precursor to glutathione. In a paper on NAC for COVID-19, published in the October 2020 issue of Clinical Immunology titled “Therapeutic Blockade of Inflammation in Severe COVID-19 Infection With Intravenous N-acetylcysteine”, which is a case series report of 10 patients (including one with G6PD deficiency) given intravenous NAC. NAC elicited clinical improvement and markedly reduced inflammatory marker, CRP in all patients. NAC mechanism of action may involve the blockade of viral infection and the ensuing cytokine storm.
Foods that have a positive impact on glutathione production include cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, green tea, curcumin, rosemary and milk thistle. Getting quality sleep may also help.

Different types of exercise can influence your levels as well. In one study, researchers enrolled 80 healthy but sedentary volunteers to measure the type of exercise that may have the greatest effect. They found that aerobic training in combination with circuit weight training showed the greatest benefit.

Macronutrients and micronutrients are essential to a human body, there are no ifs and buts about it. Optimizing your immune system is critical to improve your health whether there is a pandemic or not.

Cytokines are an important part of your immune response. However, when your body releases excessive or uncontrolled levels of cytokines it results in hyper-inflammation called a cytokine storm. A cytokine storm may lead to serious complications and even death in serious COVID-19 cases and in other infections.

Optimizing your immune system with diet and lifestyle changes are critical to improving your health and to decrease your risk of a cytokine storm. However, therapeutics, vaccines and other physical strategies such as social distancing and mask wearing are also needed in order to protect yourself and your loved ones. It doesn't have to be an 'either or' situation. Combination strategies are normally more effective.

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z-dtox zelenko
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  • Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is an extract of green tea and is a powerful zinc Ionophore (zinc delivery system).
  • N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a supplement form of cysteine. It may prevent blood clots and is an antioxidant.
  • Zinc is critical for immune cell development. Dozens of different enzymes in the body rely on zinc.
  • Vitamin C is an essential nutrient involved in the repair of tissue and the enzymatic production of certain neurotransmitters.
  • Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble secosteroids responsible for increasing intestinal absorption of calcium, magnesium, and phosphate, and many other biological effects.
Z-Dtox is more powerful than Z-Stack. It has EGCG instead of Quercetin, NAC, and higher dose Zinc. It is more appropriate for higher risk patients. For example, those people that have a dysfunctional immune system, risk of blood clots, older people and those with chronic medical conditions.

Z-Dtox also has 60 servings per container instead of 30 servings per container for Z-Stack.

Where to buy Z-Dtox: Z-Dtox is available on Dr Zelenko's website. Here is the link: Z Dtox Supplement 

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