The Dirty Truth About Tuna - Part 2

Written by Anil Bajnath, MD
Posted January 20, 2022

Dear Longevity Insider,

NAC and tuna fish, what an odd combination.

As a longevity expert, I often find that the oddest pairings can reveal some of the most fascinating longevity secrets.

What I have to share with you today doesn't hinge on how much tuna you eat. Frankly, it doesn't matter. Because there is a longevity secret inside of tuna that mainstream media isn't talking about. And everyone stands to gain from this knowledge. But in order to get the big picture, you must first educate yourself a little bit more about NAC.

On Tuesday, I explained that NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine) is a semi-essential amino acid. NAC interacts with other amino acids in the body to fight for your longevity and wellbeing. Take, glutamate, for example. Glutamate is an amino acid found in both food and the body. It is a neurotransmitter that helps cells throughout the brain communicate with one another.

NAC is extremely important in the brain and nervous system because of its role in helping to break down toxins that can damage brain cells. NAC helps with glutamate because it helps the body make more glutathione, which in turn helps with detoxification. (This is a good thing!) It also breaks down glutamate to produce energy for brain cells. 


NAC is frequently stated as an anti-oxidant, but this isn't entirely accurate. It is actually an anti-oxidant and pro-oxidant. When NAC is used up, it can then become a free radical itself. How so? Well, NAC is a sulfhydryl group. (It's got an SH hanging off one end.) A sulfhydryl group consists of a sulfur atom double-bonded to a hydrogen, and an oxygen hanging off the other end. Sulfur is at the top of the reactivity list, meaning it has a tendency to donate its spare electron. 

periodic table
A little chemistry refresher: Each atom is made up of a nucleus in the center, which consists of protons and neutrons. In NAC (sulfur), it has 16 protons and 14 neutrons. It's positively charged because it has so many protons. That means that its electron clouds are all bunched upon themselves, leaving the outside of the atom with a negative charge, making it the most electropositive element.

Now you've got an SH group with a negative charge, so it will immediately interact with something else that's got a positive charge. This is how it works in your body. If there are certain chemicals being released by cells that have a positive charge, NAC can come along and grab them to break them down. 

NAC itself isn't that reactive because it's got two negative charges. (So there's not much chance of it donating its spare electron!) But when NAC becomes oxidized, giving up an electron, then it's highly reactive. This is the free radical you get after the reduction reaction has happened. So one molecule of NAC can reduce another molecule, which can cause a chain reaction that produces free radicals. The oxidation process itself means that, at the end of the day, you get NAC which is more reactive now than it was at the beginning.

Under the right conditions (oxygen exposure), that SH can become oxidized to an SS (two sulfur atoms). So once it's used up, you get NAC converted into potentially toxic compounds like hydrogen peroxide and ammonia. (I'm not saying it's always bad, just that there can be some negative effects.) 


There is a lot of exciting research surrounding NAC and its potential benefits. Although NAC is included in many multi-vitamins, many are looking into this amino acid supplement for its anti-oxidant properties. And once you understand this tuna secret, you'll get why NAC plays such a big role in this health equation.

To your longevity,

anil bajnath signature

Anil Bajnath MD
CEO/Founder, Institute for Human Optimization
Chief Medical Officer, Longevity Insider HQ


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