Have you ever looked across the room at a friend or stranger and wondered just how they get their hair to be so silky, shiny, and luxurious? If so, you’re not alone. Many of us have a love-hate relationship with our hair and think that others were either born with it or have discovered some secret product.
While there are certainly some genetics involved here, the secret may actually be in their diet. One aspect of hair health many beauty companies don’t mention are amino acids.
How do amino acids help with hair health?
There are 20 amino acids that make up the protein in our bodies and help to maintain different aspects of the human body, including hair health. Amino acids are important not only for the general health of our hair, but also its strength, density, and how much it shines.
Here we will look at the 6 most important amino acids you should know about for hair growth and what you should include in your diet to make sure your hair looks and feels its best.
6 Essential Amino Acids for Hair Health
Proline is an amino acid that is needed for both hair structure and strength, and plays an important role in the production of collagen, the most plentiful protein in the human body. Collagen is responsible for the structure of our hair strands and therefore has a direct relationship with hair strength.
Proline can be added to the diet with dairy, legumes, and nuts, as well as eggs, pork, and spinach. It can also be found in many collagen and amino acid supplements.
Another important amino acid for hair growth is methionine. This amino acid works to increase the blood supply to the hair follicles, enabling hair growth. It is also a powerful antioxidant and provides sulfur, which helps to prevent many of the hair disorders that lead to hair loss.
Methionine can be found in fish and eggs, as well as meat, sesame seeds and cereal grains, so make sure to incorporate these into your diet if you are looking to stimulate hair growth. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, focus on increasing your intake of oats, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, quinoa, buckwheat, and similar sources.
The third key amino acid for hair growth is glycine as it is particularly important for collagen production. Glycine is also essential for maintaining both a healthy digestive system and nervous system which, if not properly looked after, can lead to conditions that result in hair loss.
Ensure that you include beef, pork, poultry, fish, dairy, and legumes, into your diet to help supply your body with sufficient levels of glycine. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, make sure your diet is rich in tofu and other soy products, beans, seeds, and nuts.
Cysteine is one of the most important amino acids on this list as it stimulates new hair growth by transporting iron and zinc which are vital for hair growth.
Moreover, this amino acid is a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect our hair from sun damage and provides our hair cells with disulfide bridges that work to boost the strength and texture of the hair.
Cysteine can be added to the diet with foods such as yogurt, broccoli, and chicken, legumes, nuts, eggs, and seeds.
Arginine is another amino acid that is key for hair growth and a stable structure, working to stimulate hair follicles. This amino acid boosts levels of nitric acid and potassium to support blood flow and therefore incite hair growth.
The problem is that arginine can be easily depleted by the sun which leads to hair feeling damaged and dry.
By adding foods such as seaweed, nuts, and whole grains, turkey, pork, and peanuts to your diet, you can make sure that you properly combat this sun damage and support the levels of arginine in your body to make sure your hair remains shiny and retains moisture.
The last amino acid on my list, although certainly not least, is tyrosine. This amino acid is important in hair melanin, which is responsible for our hair color, as it aids in production.
Alongside this benefit to hair, tyrosine can also help to reduce the effects of anxiety and depression, insomnia, and high levels of stress that can ultimately lead to stunted hair growth or even hair loss.
Include foods such as almonds, fish, and pumpkin seeds, pork, beef, tofu, and dairy, in your diet to make sure your body produces as much melanin as it needs for healthy hair and proper growth.
Amino acids are essential for making up the protein in our bodies, including hair protein. If you are not getting the right amino acids, or enough of them, from your diet, your hair health will be depleted and deficiencies can even lead to hair loss.
By adding the foods mentioned above to your diet, you can ensure that your hair will be healthy and be encouraged to grow so that you can have beautifully shiny, strong, and soft hair.
If you feel like you are already including the recommended foods in your diet, but still struggle with hair growth and shine, consider supplementing your diet with amino acids in the form of a protein powder. Adding a protein shake to your daily routine is a great way to ensure you have all the amino acids to support healthy hair!
Dr. Nancy Rahnama, MD, ABOM, ABIM, is a medical doctor board certified by both the American Board of Obesity Medicine and the American Board of Internal Medicine. Her specialty is Clinical Nutrition, that is, the use of nutrition by a medical doctor to diagnose and treat disease. Dr. Rahnama has helped thousands of people achieve their goals of weight loss, gut health, improved mood and sleep, and managing chronic disease.