Do you know what L-cysteine is or how it can contribute to beautiful hair? Below, we’ll go through the basics of this amino acid that is necessary for the health of our body and hair.
L-cysteine is a protein-forming amino acid that helps protein building in the body. It is a non-essential amino acid, which means our body can create it. In order to cover the daily intake, dietary supplements may be a great option. This is because L-cysteine is directly formed from L-methionine, which happens to be an essential amino acid that we must get from food.
What Does L-cysteine Do?
L-cysteine plays an important role in keeping the overall hair health. L-cysteine is one of few amino acids that has the ability to form disulfide bonds in the body. These disulfide bonds hold together the keratin strands within the hair, which provide the hair with its fibrous properties that hold on to moisture and prevent hair dryness. Also, L-cysteine directly helps in maintaining the texture and thickness of hair.
The hair consists of three layers: the cuticle, cortex and medulla. The outer layer – the cuticle – surrounds the inner layers of the cortex and the medulla. The medulla in its turn is also surrounded by the cortex, and is present right at the center of the hair shaft. The medulla is responsible for the natural hair thickness through genetic signaling.
The most prominent of these layers is the middle one; the cortex. It makes up almost 80 – 90% of a single strand of hair. The cortex is abundantly supplied with keratin molecules bundled together that give strength to the hair follicles. Each bundle of this fibrous filament structure contains almost 75% of L-cysteine. Many topical hair care products such as hair oils and shampoos contain L-cysteine as a major ingredient. The L-cysteine will maintain and promote the keratin and disulfide bond formation.
Also, in case of L-cysteine deficiency due to decreased absorption from the gastrointestinal tract, or decreased dietary intake, oral supplements of L-cysteine are available to help restore its normal levels in the body. Foods that are high in L-cysteine include soybeans, beef, lamb, sunflower seeds, cheese, oats and chick peas.
Scientific Research On L-cysteine Benefits
A German research study from 2000 examined the role of L-cysteine in hair loss and hair regrowth. Researchers divided people who were suffering from massive hair loss into two groups. One treated with a combination of L-cysteine, millet seed extract, and pantothenic acid, while the other group received a placebo.
After four weeks of continuous treatment, researchers observed the initial results with a microscope. Three months in it was observed that the group treated with L-cysteine combination therapy showed a decrease in hair loss and their natural hair growth was restored. Whereas there was no improvement in hair loss in the control group that received placebo.
Dermatologists linked L-cysteine to promotion of natural hair growth and hair regeneration. So there you have it; L-cysteine benefits are in fact crucial for a healthy growth and for strong and healthy hair. If you think that you do not get enough of it through your food, there are plenty of natural hair supplements contain L-cysteine you might wish to consider.
Photo credits: Lee Grubbs via Flickr
Francesca Cappa via Flickr