For our bodies to function properly, it needs the help of amino acids. They are basically the building blocks of protein and provide support for almost every biological mechanism in the body, which includes skin health.
There are 20 kinds of amino acids and they are divided into two classes. These are essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are compounds we need for daily consumption in order to benefit from it. On the other hand, the non-essential amino acids are those that are naturally produced by the body.
Amino acids role in skin care includes skin hydration, promote cellular repair, and acts as an antioxidant which flushes out toxins that may be harmful to the skin. Also, most amino acids promote collagen formation that provides skin a vibrant and youthful complexion.
The Best Amino Acids for Skin
Methionine is an essential amino acid that promotes the development of healthy collagen that’s used in the growth of nails, hairs, connective tissues, and skin.
It helps stimulate the production of cysteine that in turn aids the production of other beneficial compounds such as protein, glutathione, and taurine. Glutathione, in particular, is an antioxidant that acts as an anti-aging compound and lightens skin complexion. Research shows that a decrease in methionine production leads to the accumulation of hydrogen peroxide in the hair follicles that causes graying of hair.
It also prevents the increase of inflammatory histamines in the body. People suffering from severe allergies and arthritis caused by overproduction of histamine may find it beneficial to use methionine supplements.
As we grow older, our skin becomes less and less elastic. Daily consumption of arginine through dietary supplements or diet supports the sustenance of healthy skin. Studies show that arginine may act as an HGH (human growth hormone) enhancer that activates production of an HGH anti-aging compound, which help delay the progress of the skin aging process. Arginine also supports collagen formation that speeds up the healing process of wounds.
Arginine is a non-essential amino acid which means that our body produces them naturally. So, why do we need to consume them regularly? As we age, the production of arginine in our body decreases as well. Also, pre-existing medical condition and negative lifestyles are also known to reduce the production of arginine. If arginine production goes down, it may cause some health issues. This is because it’s not only beneficial to our skin but also in maintaining a healthy liver and strengthening the immune system.
Leucine is known as one of the primary amino acids used in producing BCAA (branched-chain amino acids) products, along with valine and isoleucine. BCAAs are performance enhancer supplements but leucine, in particular, also possesses beneficial effects on the skin. Leucine is an essential amino acid that may also act as an anti-aging agent by slowing down muscle and skin tissue degradation. It’s believed to promote skin regeneration and improve skin elasticity.
Though scientifically inconclusive, it’s thought that leucine also promotes wound healing. One study in Texas showed that leucine alone didn’t improve the healing process of wounds in children. However, when paired up with other amino acids, it did significantly enhance the wound healing process.
Histidine stimulates the production of urocanic acid, a compound that helps protect the skin from the harmful effects of ultra-violet radiations from the sun. The urocanic acid usually accumulates in the skin cells that absorb the UV rays when it’s exposed under the sun. Thus, it’s sometimes referred to as a natural sunscreen. It also prevents any DNA damage that may be caused by UV radiation.
An experiment performed on mice that were supplemented with Histidine results in an increase in urocanic acid. Thus, showed improved skin protection when exposed under UV rays.
In another study, 24 patients suffering from various types of skin disease were provided with Histidine for 4 weeks. After the study, researchers observed that the skin condition of about 39% of the patients showed significant improvements.
Glycine helps stimulate protein production, which the body uses for the development and maintenance of certain tissues. It also supports the production of essential enzymes and hormones.
Glycine promotes the development of glutathione—it’s an antioxidant that helps the body flush out harmful toxins and also acts as an anti-aging agent. It lowers oxidant damage and oxidative stress levels that delays skin tissue degradation.
In 2011, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study that suggests that though glutathione depletes as we age, however, glutathione supplementation counteract this effect and restore its synthesis.
Glycine is also important in the healthy development of collagens that supports growth and maintenance of a healthy muscle and skin tissue.
Lysine primarily supports the growth of muscles and enables the body to effectively absorb calcium. Scientific research conclusively identifies that lysine also contributes to collagen development.
Some studies also suggest that it may be effective against cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus. One particular study tested the effectivity of lysine against cold sores in participants suffering from recurring symptoms of a cold sore. Participants are to ingest 1,000mg daily for a few days. Researchers observed that most participants have significant recurring events of cold sores. In addition, they also found that if lysine level in the bloodstream is maintained at above 165nmol/l, cold sore breakout reduces as well.
The proline amino acid is especially beneficial to wound healing and skin health. Its primary function of proline includes supports collagen formation, cartilage regeneration, wound healing, connective tissue growth, and aides gut lining healing. Proline and glycine are two of the most important amino acids in collagen formation.
Proline helps damaged skin to recover like wounds, burns, or incisions. Studies show that at the early phases of wound recovery, fluids containing proline are more active than plasma. Proline is about 50% higher than plasma during this phase.
Proline is a type of non-essential amino acids, which means that the body naturally produces them. However, as explained earlier, as we age the collagen production also drops. Collagen provides skin elasticity, reduces dryness, and promotes healthier and vibrant skin. We can get these two essential amino acids through certain foods and dietary supplements. A study suggests that collagen supplements, in particular, stimulate hyaluronic acid synthesis, enhance the function of the skin barrier, and aide growth and migration of fibroblast.