L-Cysteine is a conditionally dispensable sulphur-bearing amino acid. The body manufactures it from methionine and serine. Cysteine is important in the production of protein, hair, skin, connective tissues, connective tissue growth factor, glutathione, taurine and insulin.
For bodybuilders,supplementing with L-cysteine is ideal because their immune systems are often compromised due to the amount of stress put on the body by performing strenuous endurance exercise. It is effective in building lean muscle tissue since it is a precursor to taurine. Taurine is important because it is essential in central nervous system function. It is also vital for maintaining regular blood pressure, good vision and eye function as well as thermogenesis (fat burning).
L-cysteine is also an important precursor to glutathione. Glutathione is critical for immune system function because it is a powerful antioxidant that ensures healthy cellular function and nerve signal efficiency. Deficiency is linked to ageing and physical decline. Supplementing with L-cysteine has proven to be effective in increasing cellular glutathione levels.
As it is naturally occurring, L-cysteine is a common ingredient found in protein and multi-amino acid formulas. Some supplements also contain the N-acetyl L-cysteine form or more commonly known as NAC. Cysteine elevates NAC levels which in turn increases blood glutathione levels and preserves lean muscle mass.
Besides its major role as a component of proteins, it functions as a detoxifying agent, helping rid the body of dangerous chemicals.
Cysteine also plays a role in energy production. Like other amino acids, it can be converted to glucose and either used for energy or stored as glycogen. This may help to prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue and enhance endurance in bodybuilding.
In the general population, dietary intake of cysteine is reported to be approximately 1 gram to a high of 2.2 grams per day.
In general, L-cysteine supplements are generally considered safe but some side effects may be possible. Some of the potential side effects are nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting and other gastrointestinal problems. Check with your physician before taking L-cysteine supplements.
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