What is L-Arginine?
L-arginine or arginine is one of the vital amino acids used by the body to biosynthesize proteins. It’s considered both as essential and non-essential, depending on the persons’ health condition and developmental stage. For example, premature infants can’t produce or synthesize arginine internally. Thus, this type of amino acid makes it an essential nutrient for them. Most individuals with a healthy lifestyle don’t need arginine supplements. This is because arginine can be synthesized through glutamine and citrulline. Also, most foods rich in protein contain arginine.
Brief Historical Perspective
The first isolation of arginine was made by a chemist from Germany named Ernst Schulze in 1886, with the assistance of Ernst Steiger. He isolated the amino acid using pumpkin seeds and lupin. In 1897, he successfully identified the structures of arginine, this time with the help of Ernst Winterstein. In 1899, they were able to synthesize arginine from compounds called cyanamide and ornithine. With Schulze years of work on arginine, some scientists still doubt its definite structure until Sorensen’s research came out in 1910.
How Hair Grows
The hair shaft starts from the follicles and it’s made up of keratin—a type of protein found in hair shafts. The keratin is made up of three layers that include the medulla (inner layer), cortex (middle layer), and cuticle (outer layer).
It’s believed grows that hair grows six inches a year and it undergoes a cycle. The first part is called the anagen cycle, which the new hair pushes the old hair out of the follicles. The second cycle is called catagen, which hair growth slows down and forms club hairs. The last cycle is called telogen, which club hairs are now completely formed. During the cycle, it’s estimated that a person might shed about 25 to 100 hairs per day.
L-Arginine for Hair Loss
Studies have shown that arginine amino acid has anti-aging properties. In addition, it also shows a significant effect on hair growth. In fact, there are recent studies that found associations between lower arginine levels and hair loss. Some studies also showed that arginine strengthens hair and improve moisture.
Arginine supports hair growth by stimulating the production of a chemical compound called nitric oxide. This compound induces relaxation of blood vessels located around the hair follicles, which causes it to open and improve blood circulation in the hair bulbs and promote hair growth. Nitric oxide produced by arginine also supports hair growth by supplying potassium around the hair follicles.
Arginine Prevents Damage Caused by Hair Bleaching or Coloring
Most hair coloring products we find in cosmetic shops and hair salons contain high levels of hydrogen peroxide. This chemical is potentially harmful to the hair, especially when used in excess. One study found that hydrogen peroxide directly affects proteins and the natural oils present in the hair structure. Thus, it weakens hair strength, reduces moisture and induces hair loss. However, they observed significant improvements when arginine is used instead of ammonia, which is usually present in hair coloring products. They observed that arginine strengthens hair follicles and countered the harmful effects of hydrogen peroxide.
Hair Products with Arginine
In general, amino acids like arginine are vital compounds for the production of keratin, which is essential not only to hair growth but also to the overall health of our hair. Arginine, in particular, is one of the most effective amino acids for maintaining healthy hair. Aside from improved keratin production, it also aides less hair fall and strengthen hair. This is the reason why we often find arginine in most hair products. Hair products with arginine improve blood circulation and stimulate hair regrowth. Hair products with arginine are normally applied topically like shampoos and hair conditioners.
L-arginine is both non-essential and essential amino acid. This means that our body naturally creates them but it may fluctuate depending on persons’ health and stage in life. Prolonged exposure to stress may reduce arginine production significantly. Also, physical injuries or trauma to the kidneys and small intestine may contribute to lower arginine production. These organs are the primary sites for the biosynthesis of arginine, and if it’s damaged, it can affect arginine production.
We can also achieve a healthy flowing hair by improving arginine levels in our body through food sources. It’s commonly found in protein-rich products like eggs, a specific type of meat-based products, dairy products, grains, nuts, beans, fish, and soy.
Arginine is also known to treat erectile dysfunction and any types of cardiovascular diseases. In dietary supplementary form, it can be used topically or orally.
Arginine isn’t limited to hair growth but also can provide a variety of health benefits like:
Anti-aging and anti-inflammatory
Arginine fights off disease that causes inflammation and enhances the immune system. Studies also found that it stimulates an enzyme called superoxide dismutase and other antioxidant processes. Some health professionals suggest combining it with another antioxidant compound to improve its efficacy. These compounds include supplements containing omega-3 fish oil and vitamin c, which is shown to act as an anti-aging agent and improve overall health condition.
Enhance cardiovascular health
Several studies suggest that arginine contributes to maintaining proper health of the cardiovascular system and blood vessels. In fact, most cardiologists recommend dietary supplements with arginine to their patients with heart problems. Arginine improves cardiovascular health by regulating blood circulation and blood pressure, boost stamina, and lower cholesterol levels.
Performance enhancer during workouts
As mentioned, arginine improves blood flow that supports oxygen and nutrient supply to the joint and muscle tissues. This is especially essential for people undergoing physical workouts because it reduces exercise-related pain.
Speeds up wound healing process and prevent infection
Studies show that when arginine is combined with omega-3 fish oil, it improves the body’s protection against infections and quickens wound healing process. Some people mix it with other topical ointments and apply it on damaged skin. The reason for this is to prevent inflammation, induce blood flow, promote the l-proline formation, and improve antioxidant levels.
Treatment for infertility and erectile dysfunction
Some scientist says that in addition to the arginine’s ability to improve blood circulation, it also supports the cell replication process. They believed that arginine may improve both motility and sperm production.