Diet plays a key role in keeping a healthy head of hair. There are four essential amino acids that are crucial to preventing hair loss and stimulating growth. If you are experiencing hair loss, you may be lacking in these amino acids, which will inhibit keratin production, the main component in hair.
What is Keratin?
Keratin is found in skin, fingernails, toenails, teeth and hair. Keratin is formed by amino acids, the protein-building blocks that play a critical role in many of the body’s biological processes, including hair growth. Keratin is unique because—depending on the amino acids that form it in different parts of the body—keratin can be hard like fingernails or soft and flexible like hair.
The A Team
The four most important amino acids that make up the “A team” of the hair are: cysteine, lysine, arginine and methionine. These are the amino acids necessary for the body to produce adequate keratin.
Cysteine – is a not an essential amino acid, meaning the body can produce it, rather than having to rely on getting enough of it only through dietary consumption. Keratin is made up of about a quarter of cysteine and it also assists with protecting hair follicles from oxidative stress. Food sources of this amino acid are: poultry, pork, dairy, broccoli, legumes and whole grains.
Lysine – is an essential amino acid, meaning your body does not produce it so it must be consumed. It is required for hair follicles to function properly and stimulates collagen production, another component in hair similar to keratin. Dietary sources of lysine are, fish (especially salmon and sardines), chicken, beef, pork, spirulina, nuts and legumes. Those who suffer from cold sores and various forms of herpes tend to be lysine-deficient; therefore, a lysine supplement can offer help for more than hair loss.
Related: Three Vitamins for Thinning Hair
Arginine – is needed to produce keratin and has many other health benefits. Arginine helps to boost immunity, as well as prevent hair loss. It can also actually help mitigate the damage done to hair through coloring and bleaching. Arginine is essential for proper blood circulation to supply vital nutrients to hair follicles for more robust growth. Arginine is produced by the body but production levels can drop sharply due to illness or prolonged stress, necessitating a supplement and eating arginine-rich foods such as dairy products, oatmeal, sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, soybeans, nuts, fish, chicken and beef.
Methionine – an antioxidant and the second major component of keratin, it also helps hair follicles resist oxidative stress. Methionine has been shown in studies to slow the graying of hair and hair loss. It is an essential amino acid. Methionine supplements along with foods like eggs, seeds, fish, squash and nuts can help stop hair from thinning as rapidly.
Hair loss is usually a result of a genetic alopecia, but a healthy diet rich in foods with these important amino acids and supplements can help slow hair loss and make the remaining hair fuller, stronger and healthier overall.