Here’s a strange thing I’ve noticed about people – they will assault their hair with every oil, hair mask, shampoo, and conditioner that they can grab from the drugstore or their kitchen in a bid to get long, lustrous hair. But the one thing that they won’t pay any heed to is their diet. What most of us fail to realize is that a good diet plays just as important a role as a good hair care routine when it comes to hair growth. And one range of nutrients that we need heaps of to maintain our hair’s health and boost hair growth is amino acids.
What are amino acids, you ask? Well, amino acids are organic compounds that are made up of amines, carboxylic acid, and a side chain that is specific to each amino acid. Quite simply put, they are the building blocks of the protein that makes up 1/5th of the human body. So, it comes as no surprise that amino acids play an essential role in all our biological processes, one of which happens to be hair growth.
How Do Amino Acids Improve Hair Growth?
To understand how amino acids improve hair growth, we must first understand the composition of hair itself. Roughly 88% of your hair is composed of the protein keratin. For our body to produce keratin, it requires 18 different types of amino acids. While some of these are produced by our body, others have to be supplemented by our diet. An adequate level of these amino acids in our body leads to an optimum production of keratin which, in turn, boosts hair growth. Moreover, amino acids play a major role in the production of red blood cells that supply nutrients and oxygen to hair follicles, thus facilitating hair growth.
Now, you must be wondering exactly which amino acids you need to add to your diet to boost your hair growth. So, without further adieu, let’s jump right into it!
Top 9 Amino Acids Needed For Hair Growth
Though there are about 20 different types of amino acids that play a major role in the healthy functioning of your body, here are the top 9 that are essential for hair growth.
Cysteine is, inarguably, the most crucial of amino acids for hair growth. Not only does it facilitate healthy hair growth, this amino acid also helps in stimulating new hair growth. Cysteine is a potent antioxidant that shields the hair from sun damage and other harmful radiations. Moreover, it has also been found to treat the symptoms of alopecia. And as if that weren’t enough, it also provides sulphur to hair cells to improve their texture and strength.
Best Sources Of Cysteine: The major dietary sources of cysteine include broccoli, chicken, wheat germ, Brussels sprouts, and some dairy products like milk and yogurt.
Methionine is another essential amino acid for hair growth. This amino acid is a strong anti-oxidant and a warehouse of sulphur, a key ingredient for combating hair disorders. Methionine is a good lipotropic as it helps in breaking down fat and prevents fat accumulation in arteries and specific body areas. This functionality of methionine increases blood supply to the hair follicles and scalp, which further leads to hair growth. This amino acid also plays a role in the synthesis of collagen that is responsible for strengthening the hair shaft.
Best Sources Of Methionine: Fish, eggs, Brazil nuts, cereal grains, and sesame seeds are good sources of methionine.
Lysine helps in the formation of collagen by absorbing calcium. This collagen, as you already know, is essential for forming the basic structure of hair follicles, strengthening hair shafts, and boosting hair growth, in general. Lysine also stops 5-alpha reductase from converting testosterone into DHT, which is the main cause of androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness).
Best Sources Of Lysine: Chicken, eggs, fish, red meat, legumes, nuts, pulses, red meat, pork, and dairy products are excellent sources of lysine.
Glycine is another amino acid that plays an important role in the production of collagen that is necessary for hair growth. Glycine also happens to play an essential part in the effective functioning of the digestive system and the central nervous system. This means that it protects the body against nerve disorders that could cause hair loss.
Best Sources Of Glycine: Your body naturally produces glycine, but it can also supplemented by foods like meat, dairy products, fish, spinach, beans, cabbage, soybeans, and banana.
The effect of arginine on hair growth is phenomenal. Being a precursor of nitric oxide, this amino acid is vital for healthy hair growth. Arginine regulates the level of nitrogen oxide in our body, which then stimulates the potassium opening of the cells. This results in the increased supply of blood to the root hair, thereby promoting hair growth. Arginine is also known to boost immune system activity to protect against the autoimmune diseases that can have a drastic effect on your hair, like androgenic alopecia. Moreover, it also protects your hair from the detrimental effect of bleaching and coloring.
Best Sources Of Arginine: Although Arginine is synthesized adequately in the body, its deficiency can be counterbalanced by introducing cashew, hazelnut, coconut, sunflower and sesame seeds, fish, and wheat germ in your diet.
Hold up right there – don’t confuse this cystine with the the cysteine that we discussed earlier. Cystine is a non-essential amino acid that has been proven to stimulate hair regrowth and fight hair loss. Nearly ten to fourteen percent of our skin and hair is formed of this amino acid. Cystine in our body is formed by disulfide bonding of two cysteine molecules. This dual bonding of amino acids in cystine provides strength to the hair shafts. Besides, this amino acid is also known to improve the immunity of our body to fight any kind of infection.
Best Sources Of Cystine: As cystine is created from cysteine, the dietary sources remain the same.
Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid that is produced in our body naturally and is responsible for hair and skin coloration. This is because it helps in the production of melanin. It has also been known to treat anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other stress-related problems that could cause hair fall and hinder healthy hair growth.
Best Sources Of Tyrosine: Dairy and soy products, almonds, lima beans, pumpkin seeds, and fish are a few food sources that are rich in tyrosine.
Glutamine’s role in hair growth is quite tangential. Let me break it down for you – the main component of hair is keratin, which contains large amounts of cysteine. The synthesis of cysteine requires a large amount of sulfur. This sulfur is delivered to the scalp with the help of glutamine.
Best Sources Of Glutamine: Meats like beef, pork, and chicken, dairy products, eggs, beans, legumes, nuts, cabbage, and spinach are great sources of glutamine.
Prolien is a fairly non-essential amino acid that helps in the production of collagen and plays a role in maintaining muscle tissues.
Best Sources Of Proline: Some great sources of proline include eggs, meat, dairy products, beans, soybeans, legumes, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, and avocado.
You may be eating a healthy and balanced diet, but including adding amino acid-rich foods into your daily diet can not only help boost the growth and health of your hair, but also your overall well-being.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Is lysine good for hair growth?
Yes, lysine is good for hair growth as it helps in the production of collagen that is essential to this process.
Is keratin an amino acid?
No, keratin is a protein.
How many amino acids are found in keratin?
There are 18 amino acids found in keratin.
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