L-Cysteine: This Week On Ingredient Watch
L-cysteine, often referred to as “cysteine”, is a non-essential and sulphur- containing amino acid (building block of protein) found in the human body. It is found in beta-keratin, which is the main protein in our nails, hair and skin.
According to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information in the USA, cysteine is a crucial part of the body’s process of protein synthesis and collagen production, as well as supporting detoxification, maintenance of skin elasticity and texture, and the possibility of diverse metabolic functions. Due to the roles it plays in body function, cysteine is sometimes taken as a supplement. e supplement comes in the form of N-acetyl-L- cysteine (NAC), which the body turns into cysteine and then into the powerful antioxidant glutathione. It assists in fighting free radicals that have been implicated in aging, and the development of health problems such as heart disease and cancer.
Although cysteine is classified as a non-essential amino acid, in rare cases it may be essential for infants, the elderly, and individuals with certain metabolic disease or who suffer from mal-absorption syndromes. Click here to find out whether avocado oil can strengthen your hair.
Is it bad for us?
No. In fact, it supports healthy body function. According the European Food Safety Authority:
“The amino acid L-cysteine is safe for all animal species if the requirements for sulphur amino acids are respected. The maximum amount of L-cysteine that can be safely added to the diet will depend on the levels of other sulphur-containing amino acids.
“Supplemental L-cysteine will not be deposited in animal tissues as such; it will be incorporated in body proteins without causing any change in their natural composition, or it will be metabolized and excreted. The product under application does not contain substances of toxicological concern. Thus, the use of L-cysteine in animal nutrition does not raise any concerns for consumer safety.”
According to the University of Maryland Medical Centre in the US, the majority of L-cysteine used in foods is obtained industrially by hydrolysis of human hair, poultry feathers or hog hair. Synthetically produced L-cysteine, compliant with Jewish kosher and Muslim halal laws, is also available, albeit at a higher price.
Anti-aging properties of L-cysteine
L-cysteine has anti-aging properties due to its role in the process of detoxification and the synthesis of glutathione in the body, both of which result in the protection of several tissues and organs.
According to recent research studies, listed on aminoacidstudies.org, it not only slows down the natural process of aging, but also helps in preventing dementia and multiple sclerosis, because both conditions are associated with an accumulation of toxins.
What is the healthiest and closest taste substitute for this food item?
Should you wish to minimize your L-cysteine intake, the healthy alternatives are oats in place of wheat meal, and corn tortillas in place of bread.
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