GlyNAC consists of two molecules. The non-essential amino acid L-glycineand N-acetyl-cysteine. You may also know NAC by another name. As ACC, N-acetyl-cysteine is often used as an expectorant for colds. But that is by no means all that this molecule can do.
Combining NAC with glycine creates an effective active complex. GlyNAC has been shown to have a positive effect on the ageing process not only in animal studies, but also in humans. In this article, we give you an insight into the molecular mode of action of GlyNAC and explain why it can be useful for you.
Two become one - the mode of action of GlyNAC
As already mentioned, GlyNAC actually consists of two molecules. Glycine is a non-essential amino acid - this means that our body can produce it itself from other amino acids. Glycine plays an important role in the brain, where it regulates nerve impulses as a neurotransmitter. In addition, the molecule promotes muscle growth and has a positive effect on the skin in complex with hyaluron.
N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) is a derivative of the sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine. The molecule was discovered as early as 1899, although it does not occur in our bodies or in food. In addition to its role as an expectorant, the substance is also known for its powerful antioxidant properties. Moreover, NAC is a precursor of glutathione, the most important antioxidant molecule in the human body. To understand this important step in more detail, we need to take a deeper dive into the biochemistry of our body.
Glutathione consists of three different amino acids: cysteine, glycine and glutamate. If we now take NAC with our food, it can enter our cells via the blood. Once there, a process called hydrolysis releases the cysteine. Thus we have the first building block for our glutathione. In the second step, cysteine reacts with glutamate, before glycine is added in the third and final step. Already we have a new molecule of glutathione. The great advantage of GlyNAC is that two of the three building blocks for glutathione are available to you.
Did you know? NAC is an important "antidote" in the event of an overdose or intoxication with paracetamol. Excessive amounts of the painkiller can damage the liver. The biochemical mechanism behind this is that the elimination of paracetamol uses up so much glutathione in our liver that the supply is eventually depleted. With NAC as a precursor of glutathione, these stores can be replenished.
Glutathione - the radical scavenger of our cells
Glutathione is found in almost every cell in our body. Think of this molecule as a kind of "guardian" and "fire department" together.
Through all the biochemical processes in our cells, free radicals accumulate. If there are too many of them, they can damage our DNA, for example. Glutathione neutralizes these radicals by means of electrons. Furthermore, the molecule can regenerate other antioxidants, such as vitamin C and E.
A second major task of glutathione is detoxification. The liver in particular, our detoxification champion, contains high concentrations of this molecule. With the help of an enzyme, glutathione S-transferase, glutathione is loaded onto a potentially toxic substance when needed. This makes the new molecule more water-soluble and our body can more easily excrete it through the urine.
Glutathione is, simply put, one of our most important helpers in keeping our cells healthy.
Mitochondria - the crux of the aging cellular power plants
Mitochondria are true marvels. Our billions of power plants supply us daily with the energy we need for life. In our heart cells alone, mitochondria account for about one third of the total volume.
In athletes, the mitochondria are responsible for the maximum utilization of oxygen, the VO2 Max. VO2 Max is not only a good indicator for athletes, but also for general fitness in old age. Not for nothing do experts such as Dr. Peter Attia advocate regular measurement.
Unfortunately, as we age, our mitochondria not only become fewer in number, but also lose efficiency. This so-called mitochondrial dysfunction is a hallmark of aging. Some studies have already shown that sport, a healthy diet and regular cold baths in particular improve mitochondrial function.
However, sport alone is often not enough. Here GlyNAC can be a real alternative. In a randomized, double-blind study of the Bayor College of Medicine, it was shown that a 16-week regular intake of GlyNAC led to improved mitochondrial function.
Did you know? One of the most important molecules in the energy metabolism of our cells is NAD. The short form stands for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide. NAD deficiency and mitochondrial dysfunction are both important areas of research in the longevity scene.
While mitochondrial dysfunction can be supported with GlyNAC and exercise, there are two approaches for NAD. Either the increase of production by vitamin B3 derivatives or the inhibition of degradation by apigenin or quercetin, for example.
Other advantages of GlyNAC
In a new, randomized clinical trial by Prof. Dr. Rajagopal Sekhar, further positive effects were observed by taking GlyNAC. The study participants neither exercised more nor changed their diet - only the intake of GlyNAC was added to one group, while the second group received a placebo.
When taken regularly, especially the older subjects benefited. Their blood pressure was lower, abdominal girth was reduced and their insulin sensitivity improved.
In addition, the study authors found several positive effects on the various Hallmarks of Aging. Less inflammation, fewer senescent cells and less genomic instability provide a possible explanation for the life-prolonging effect of GlyNAC.
This is significant because while there have been a number of animal studies previously that have confirmed the effect of GlyNAC, this is the first time a paper has been done where the efficacy of GlyNAC has been impressively demonstrated in humans.
Whether the life-prolonging data of the mice, some of which lived 24% longer by taking GlyNAC, can also be reproduced in humans must be shown in further studies. Nevertheless, this work by Prof. Sekhar is an important first step, because in addition to the theoretical mode of action, the practical benefits of GlyNAC for us humans have been confirmed.
Why not take glutathione directly?
An important mechanism of GlyNAC is the increase of glutathione levels in the body. It has already been demonstrated in animal studies that supplementation with GlyNAC led to a detectable increase in glutathione in liver, heart and kidney cells. Now of course the question arises, why the detour via GlyNAC? Why not take glutathione directly?
Here we must take into account that each cell of our body contains a different amount of glutathione. Our body regulates the required amount of glutathione for each cell individually and this is enormously important. While we know that too much oxidative stress is harmful for our cells - too little is not good for us either.
For example, our immune cells need free radicals to fight off pathogens. If we were to add glutathione to our body in an uncontrolled manner, this delicate balance would be upset. The situation is different with GlyNAC.
By supplementing the precursors, our body can regulate the required amount of glutathione individually. Therefore, if a cell does not require additional glutathione, it does not take up NAC in the first place and does not produce additional glutathione.
The power of three - why GlyNAC is more effective than its individual components
As we have seen, it makes more sense to take the precursors of glutathione. This way we give our body the building blocks and it can decide for itself where they are needed. The well-known tech CEO Bryan Johnson also relies on this principle.
NAC alone also has a positive effect on glutathione levels, but combining it with glycine can bring further benefits, as Dr. Sekhar explains in his study. To explain why GlyNAC works better than NAC or glycine alone, he posits the "power of three" theory:
To understand this statement, we need to look a little deeper into biochemistry. Dr. Sekhar argues that the combined power of cysteine (through NAC), glycine and glutathione can explain the positive effects on cellular health. Glutathione is the most powerful antioxidant - but its action is not sufficient to explain all the effects of GlyNAC.
In other studies, the supplementation of NAC versus GlyNAC was investigated in mice, and the effects were significantly greater with GlyNAC. Glycine, as a component of glutathione, is a limiting factor in biosynthesis. By combining NAC and glycine, we can supply both amino acids to our body. In addition, glycine is an important methyl group donor and thus contributes to a functioning DNA repair.
NAC, or the amino acid cysteine, contains the sulfur-containing thiol group. This is mainly needed in the mitochondria. The combined effects of NAC, glycine and glutathione are therefore more effective than the individual molecules. As the famous philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC) said, "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."
Did you know? Glycine not only functions as a precursor of glutathione. The amino acid is also involved, together with hyaluron, in important health processes in the skin. As we age, we lose more and more collagen, the most abundant protein in our skin. Glycine can promote collagen synthesis and, together with hyaluron, slow down your skin aging. The complex is also available in our store!
GlyNAC and diabetes mellitus type 2
In addition to the exciting results of Dr. Sekhar and his team, another pilot study confirmed the efficacy of GlyNAC in patients with diabetes mellitus.
GlyNAC also contributed to improved mitochondrial function here. Particularly in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, the mitochondria no longer seem to function optimally. The exact mechanism behind this is not yet fully understood. However, researchers assume that patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus can no longer optimally metabolize fatty acids via the mitochondria. This results in impaired mitochondrial function, which is associated with the complications of diabetes mellitus.
In this study, it was shown in humans and mice that supplementation with GlyNAC could raise glutathione levels again, allowing mitochondria to metabolize fatty acids normally. Interestingly, this effect ceased as soon as GlyNAC supplementation was stopped, providing at least initial evidence for causality.
In conclusion, GlyNAC can be a powerful approach to keep your mitochondria healthy and fit as you age. Many new longevity studies on this promising molecule are sure to appear in the coming years. However, the existing data already suggest that GlyNAC can be an important building block to stay fit longer in old age.
The images were purchased under licence from Canva.