L-arginine for Hair Growth: Truth or Myth?

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L-arginine for Hair Growth: Truth or Myth?
Capsule with L-Arginine, dietary supplement. 3D rendering isolated on white background

L-arginine is something that pops up in some hair loss treatments. This is also something that you can find recommended as a hair loss treatment all by itself. But does L-arginine really work for your hair, or is it one of those filler ingredients?

What Is L-arginine

Amino acids come in a wide variety, and L-arginine is one of them. L-arginine is one of the twenty common amino acids that your body needs. Your body usually makes the L-arginine that you need. However, some things like stress, trauma, sepsis, aging, sicknesses, and other things all use up some of your L-arginine.

In these cases, this amino acid can become a little depleted, which is why L-arginine is sometimes recommended as a supplement. However, the area that L-arginine is most common is actually in the area of bodybuilding.

Another thing that amino acids are vital for is that they allow your body to produce nitric oxide. You might not be familiar with nitric oxide, but it is something used in your blood vessels. In your blood vessels, nitric oxide has a couple of different roles.

One is that this oxide helps your metabolism. Another is that nitric oxide is something that goes into the linings of your blood vessels. It then causes them to relax and open up, allowing the proper flow of blood to go through them.

Your body also uses L-arginine for things like making certain vital proteins that your body uses for various things. Most people are ignorant of just how many proteins that go into making your body. Various types of protein go into everything from your hair and nails to your bones and skin cells.

Finally, L-arginine is something that your body often makes less of as you grow older. As such, this amino acid – or rather, the lack of it – contributes to your aging. L-arginine is sometimes used in medicine for all of the things that it can do for you, which is what we are taking a peek at next.

Benefits Of L-arginine

The fact that L-arginine is an amino acid alone is a benefit worth noting. Amino acids have too many benefits to your body to name. To start with, the nitric oxide that the L-arginine is used to make has so many benefits alone.

Nitric oxide helps with your metabolism, for one thing. This is one reason why your metabolism slows down as you age, because you start making less nitric oxide. So, getting enough L-arginine makes sure that you have enough nitric oxide and keeps that metabolism going strong for longer.

As for the fact that L-arginine is used quite often as a supplement in the bodybuilding industry, this is for four main reasons. First, is that this amino acid, as mentioned, helps with your blood vessels. Second, the fact that it is a precursor of nitric oxide helps your metabolism, which in turn helps your muscles as well.

Finally, third and fourth, L-arginine also quickens healing and helps to repair damaged tissues in your body. This makes small tears and sore muscles heal faster, which is a large part of building up your muscles.

Other than bodybuilding, L-arginine is also used in medicine. Though L-arginine is more of a new thing here, it is sometimes used for things like stimulating growth hormones, and treating dentin hypersensitivity, hepatitis, sepsis, cirrhosis, and even pre-eclampsia.

The L-arginine amino acid wouldn’t be used for these things if there wasn’t at least some evidence that it works. There is even some slight effect that this amino acid has on inflammation, which almost everyone knows is good.

Finally, L-arginine is something that is sometimes used after surgeries to shorten recovery time. A few other random L-arginine benefits are helping with erectile dysfunction, an increased immune system, and better digestion.

For Hair

L-arginine can do a lot for your hair as well as the rest of your body. For starters, the most obvious amino acid benefit for your hair is the fact that it is needed to make various proteins in your body. This includes some of the proteins that go into making your hair.

So, if you don’t get L-arginine and this type of amino acid, your body simply won’t have what it needs to make your hair. The result of this lack is hair that grows slowly, not at all, or hair that does grow but is weak and brittle because it is lacking something it should have had.

The fact that L-arginine plays such an important role in our blood vessels makes it good for our hair too. Any nitric oxide that helps relax the blood vessels to your scalp is helping your hair. In fact, Minoxidil – a very well-known hair loss treatment – has some nitric oxide in it for this reason.

This inclusion is both a little proof of how good L-arginine is for your hair, and that it slows balding and can also be used to treat male pattern baldness. In short, this amino acid is perfect for promoting healthy hair growth.

Finally, though indirectly helpful, L-arginine helping with your metabolism and keeping you a healthy weight is good for your hair as well. L-arginine is even used by some for their heart health, as it can deal with arterial plaque buildup, blood clots, and other problems.

Finally, and slight help that L-arginine can give your hair in terms of lowering inflammation is good. There is even some slight speculation that L-arginine might be able to help lower stress. And stress is a known hair-killer all by itself.

Cautions Of L-arginine

Considering all that L-arginine does for you, there are more cautions to not having enough of it than too much. That is not to say that L-arginine is lacking in side effects, however. L-arginine, especially in large or concentrated amounts, has been known to cause allergic reactions in some people.

Common L-arginine related allergic reactions include: rashes, itching, shortness of breath, and the other usual things. Because of the shortness of breath that this amino acid can cause, you should use extra care using L-arginine if you have asthma or some other lung problem.

Other L-arginine side effects include things like nausea, muscle cramping, hypotension, and high blood sugar. This last side effect is due to the effect that this amino acid has on your metabolism. It also means that those with blood sugar problems should be careful when taking L-arginine.

As long as you take L-arginine in the right dosage, you shouldn’t have to deal with any of these side effects. Still, L-arginine is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, especially not in large doses.

The creams that have L-arginine in them are not all FDA approved. These creams must be used with even more caution and should never be digested. But that is not all L-arginine might do.

Because of all L-arginine does for you, it can cause an almost equal number of problems in those same areas. This amino acid can interfere with insulin and cholesterol-lowering agents. As amino acids are a type of acid, it can affect you and your stomach like an acid as well.

This means bloating, diarrhea, gout, heartburn, ulcers, digestive upset, and it might even aggravate symptoms of herpes. So, though L-arginine is great for you, you really have to use it in moderation and with care.

How To Use L-arginine For Your Hair

Using L-arginine for your hair growth is as simple as adding it to your diet. Digesting this amino acid is perhaps the best way for it to get into your bloodstream. You can get L-arginine both in supplements and in certain foods.

There are many foods with this amino acid in them, including low-fat dairy products, wheat products, buckwheat, oatmeal, almonds, cashews, hazelnut, sunflower seeds, and other nuts and seeds. L-arginine is also in meats, including snail, shrimp, salmon, and other seafood, and cultured milks like cottage cheese.

Even with eating foods that contain L-arginine, added to the fact that your body can synthesize it, you might not be getting enough. You could really be depleted if you have poor nutrition or physical or mental stress.

So, taking L-arginine as a supplement is necessary if you want to ensure you are getting enough for your hair. It is recommended that you take L-arginine in smaller amounts at first, such as 1 – 2 mg. You can then build up the amount of this amino acid you take to up to around 2 – 6 grams daily. You can take more L-arginine than that, but there is a point that taking more will do you no good.

L-arginine can be used topically on your hair, and it is one of the amino acids that can be actually absorbed through your skin somewhat. Since you can get L-arginine in a powder form, applying it to your hair is super easy.

Just add the L-arginine powder to whatever hair product or hair mask you want to. In addition, because of how good L-arginine is for your hair, it can be found in many hair products. So, you can look at which products already have this amino acid in them if you prefer.

Final Thoughts

So, the truth is that L-arginine can really help your hair quite a bit. Though this is one amino acid that you should be careful using, it is still worth it to add this as a supplement to your routine. L-arginine will definitely be worth it to you if you are an athlete or are looking to become one.

What’s more, L-arginine is not the most expensive type of supplement that you can get for your hair. All in all, I highly recommend adding L-arginine to your diet and to your hair care routine.

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Christopher is the founder of Hair Loss Geeks, which launched back in 2011. At the time there wasn't any credible information on the internet about hair loss. As someone suffering from hair loss himself, Christopher began his extensive research journey. After launching the site, he later graduated from Boston University in 2012 with his PhD in Biochemistry. What started off as a hobby project quickly became a bigger focus as it grew. Christopher hopes everyone can learn from both his experience and research.

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