In this video, we look at amino acids for hair growth. We look at the different types of amino acids, as well as how they can impact hair loss and hair growth.
Amino acids are often described as ‘the building blocks of protein.’ Around one fifth of the human body is made up of protein, which is an essential component of almost all of its biological processes (1).
It makes sense, then, that insufficient intake (or poor absorption) can lead to deficits which impact various processes. This includes a ‘non-essential’ process – hair growth.
In this article, I’ll introduce amino acids and the important role they play in hair synthesis and growth. I’ll then outline a variety of amino acids – including the four that are most essential to keratin production – as well as discuss a few ways you can get more of these essential amino acids into your diet.
An Introduction to Amino Acids
In simple terms, amino acids can be described as organic compounds made up of even smaller compounds known as amines (2).
Amines are made up of a lone atom of nitrogen and a non-bonding pair of valence electrons, which together form the chemical bond of the amine.
The other chemical compound forming amino acids is carboxylic acid, plus the side chain chemical group which gives each different amino acid its individual properties.
Amino acids make up a large proportion of our tissue and muscles, and give cells their particular structure. They are essential to use for storing nutrients and facilitating their movement around the body.
This means that they play an essential role in healing damaged tissue, skin, bones, and hair (3).
The importance of amino acids to our survival is reinforced against a backdrop of the industrialization of society and its consequences for human health.
The majority of people in the world now live in urban environments which are affected by pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels. These people consume heavily processed foods, including meat from hormone-fed cattle and heavily-fertilized agricultural produce.
They often also live in a culture which promotes the regular consumption of alcohol and smoking of tobacco.
All of these factors reduce the capability of our bodies to fully absorb the nutrients we eat. Just as serious is the actual processing of modern junk food: microwaveable, canned, and frozen products which have lost a good part of the nutrients we need from them – becoming, in effect simply a supply of ‘empty calories.’
All of this has led to a spike, particularly among older people, in diseases and health issues – at the root caused by the body’s inability to absorb enough vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
These problems include unwanted weight gain, erectile disorders, arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, sleep disorders, and even hair loss.
How Can Amino Acids Improve Hair Growth?
Hair is mostly made up of protein and melanin. In fact, around 88% of your hair is made up of one particular protein – keratin (4).
This protein requires four different types of amino acid to be produced by the body. They are cysteine, arginine, lysine, and methionine.
The structure of keratin
All of these amino acids are usually sourced from our diet, but the latter two must always be present in our diet in order to facilitate the body’s production of keratin (5).
Perhaps it should not some as a surprise that poor nutrition can lead to hair loss (6). During deficits of any vital nutrients, our bodies allocate all of the available amounts to the functions which are essential to sustaining life.
As hair production and growth is not fundamental to our immediate survival, these nutrients are diverted away from hair follicles, causing reduced hair production and death of the follicle.
When this happens at a less dramatic level, the reduction in hair production and subsequent loss of hair is only noticeable over long periods of time, i.e. years rather than weeks. Initial indications of an amino acid deficiency in hair production include dull and vapid hair growth.
At present, the effects of amino acid on hair growth are under study from various viewpoints. Initial results from various tests have shown that certain amino acid mixtures, when ingested, can significantly increase the rate of hair growth over periods as short as four weeks.
Such encouraging findings have prompted further study into the effect of amino acids on various hair and skin-related diseases.
The Different Types Of Amino Acids
There are around 250 different known types of amino acid, of which there are 20 which occur in the human body. Of these, a small number are associated with hair growth…