N-acetylcysteine or NAC is a powerful antioxidant. One of its primary functions is increasing glutathione (GSH) levels (the master antioxidant found in every cell in your body).
Maintaining high levels of GSH will protect you from many diseases, including the aging process itself, especially after the age of 45, when GSH levels appear to hit their peak and then drop rapidly in the years that follow.
NAC has an incredible list of therapeutic uses for your body, including fighting lung, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, cancer, and other infectious diseases.
However, I specifically take it to increase longevity and enhance or maintain locomotor activity health and have been taking 800 mg of NAC powder daily for about four years without any side effects. Once a month, I take a consecutive three-day break from NAC to give my body a break from the supplement.
It is a compound with studies confirming its ability to extend life in animals and improve locomotor activity skills approved for use in humans. With this in mind, I will now delve into the reasons for my NAC supplementation.
NOTE: You cannot get NAC from natural sources. To get it, you must use a supplement.
NAC For Locomotor Activity Health And Aging
I am nearing 60. Although 60 is not precisely old age, we do not move or physically react as younger men would. And it gets worse as we get older.
Looking muscular or running 10K is much easier than maintaining quick reflexes, balance, coordination, and neurological processes. In other words, high protein diets, working out, or running long distances will make you more muscular and aerobically fit in old age. However, you would still show your age if you tried to participate in a sporting activity with younger men.
As this NAC clinical trial put it, the problem is that “Physical exercise has been shown to improve average strength and functional performance but is not always effective in old age.”
Therefore, enhancing locomotor activity should be a priority, as it is considered one of the primary markers of healthspan.
What Exactly Is Locomotor Activity
Locomotor activity is associated with how your body moves and reacts. It includes endurance (energy level), balance, coordination, reflexes (physical and mental), gait, etc. Below are some examples of the activities that diminish with age:
Research shows that the speed of processing and reacting to particular stimuli decreases with advanced age by about 26 % (264 milliseconds in an average 20-year-old versus 327 ms in an average 60-year-old).
Older adults’ movement time increases for many daily tasks, such as simple handwriting, reaching to grab something, or just any type of continuous movement. Older adults are, on average, 30 to 60% slower than younger people when it comes to movement time for simple tasks to more strenuous ones.
Force control, speed, and coordination also decline with age. An older person does not move as smoothly or quickly, making it more challenging to initiate and execute a response to a stimulus. In other words, reflexes dwindle as we get older.
Have you ever seen a pro running back zigzagging and sidestepping tacklers? As a young man, he has well-coordinated and rapid movement ability. His body’s central nervous system can pinpoint the precise location of his limbs at any given moment when it is controlling and regulating movement. In science, this is called “proprioception.”
As we age, the central nervous system gradually loses this ability, making it more challenging to perform coordinated movements. Research shows that younger adults are up to three times more effective at controlling and regulating movement when compared to older adults.
In addition, during aging, we also lose up to 40% of our fast-twitch muscle fibers. Our joints become less flexible, and our ligaments and tendons weaken. These factors contribute to the loss of range of motion and slower reaction time, making us more prone to injuries.
Posture And Balance
Posture and balance also decline as we age. Although the ability to stabilize posture is essential for an upright stance, it is also needed when performing a variety of upper-extremity movements. A stable base of support is necessary to perform motor skills, such as pointing, reaching, and grasping.
An example of this could be if a younger person were to trip over something, he would be able to stop a fall much easier than an older adult would. Age-related declines in upright stance recovery and maintenance in older adults are evident.
NAC For Locomotor Activity
Older people cannot move like a younger version of themselves. When we age, we slowly lose our locomotor activity. Movement slows with age between 15 and 30% due to muscle, nerve, and joint impairment.
In other words, as you get older, your body experiences a slower rate of contraction and movement, characterized by reductions in muscle power. You become more susceptible to fatigue, especially when your muscles need to contract rapidly.
NAC is an approved supplement for humans that can enhance the health of your locomotor activity.
A randomized, double-blind clinical trial on the effect of NAC on muscle function was conducted on older people over 65. The subjects were given 200 mg capsules or placebo at a daily dose of 1.8 g for 6 weeks.
The researchers tested for differences in physical strength and motor performance. Although the results showed no improvement in strength parameters, they did show that the NAC Group had a significant increase in motor performance:
Stair climbing 14.91
Walking speed 15.23
Step frequency 8.03
Performance-oriented motor assessment 6.51
I am almost 60, and I work very hard at maintaining healthy locomotor activity. Below is a video I made specifically for this article. It shows my present mobility, balance, speed, coordination, etc. Maintaining the health of these factors is a priority at any age, but especially in older age.
NAC Benefits The Aging Process
NAC is considered a geroprotector. (The definition of geroprotector is “a substance that protects your cells from aging, and inflammation (inflammaging).” It can also protect you from cellular senescence, which scientists have dubbed a hallmark of aging.
Cellular senescence occurs when cells throughout our bodies are damaged by disease, injury, or other stress factors. Apoptosis provides the body’s immune system with a means of clearing damaged cells. However, as we age, our bodies become less capable of removing dysfunctional cells.
Dysfunctional cells eventually stop reproducing, but they do not die off. Instead, they remain and persist and perpetuate the release of inflammatory chemicals. A person’s body produces more senescent cells as they age. In aging, the immune system becomes weaker, leading to the accumulation of senescent cells and healthy cell degradation. It can impair a person’s ability to recover from injuries and tolerate stress. It also diminishes learning ability since senescent brain cells degrade cognitive functions.
- myocardial dysfunctions
- prevention of oxidative damage
- improvement of immune function in older people
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- UV-associated photoaging of the skin
Another study also showed that chronic use of NAC can slow cellular senescence in endothelial cells. Unhealthy endothelial cells are known to speed up the aging process. NAC helps with this, in part, by enhancing telomerase activity.
So, it appears that NAC helps delay another hallmark of aging called “telomere attrition.” (Our chromosomes gradually lose their protective caps (telomeres) as we age. The shortening of these telomeres limits our cells’ ability to divide, slowly reducing the number of cells in vital organs. Numerous diseases associated with aging have faulty short telomeres)
The usual dosage is between 600 and 1200 mg daily. I have taken 800 mg NAC for the last four years daily. However, for the last three days of every month, I abstain from taking it and all other supplements to give my body a break.
One study showed that humans tolerated NAC up to 2400 mg daily for 3 months without side effects.
If you plan on taking NAC, please speak to your doctor to determine if the supplement is right for you.
NAC is a potent antioxidant beneficial for locomotor activity, health, and aging. It is one of the best ways to increase glutathione levels in your body, an excellent way to fight free radicals that speed aging and make you sick.
Want to maintain youthful movement, gait, coordination, balance, speed, and reflexes? Then you may want to supplement with it. Human studies showed that it helps in this department.