Since collagen, a protein support structure for hair, is dependent on the amino acid lysine, the lack of lysine and hair loss are positively correlated. Research shows that those with alopecia, hair breakage, and reduced hair growth often suffer from insufficient lysine. Another link between lysine and baldness is that lysine can be effective in blocking an enzyme responsible for baldness.
Lysine serves as a building block for collagen in hair cells specifically because it aids in the body’s absorption of calcium; calcium is one of the main factors required for the formation of collagen in nails, hair, and skin. Low lysine levels in the body are often the result of imbalanced nutrition. Daily servings of proteins from sources such as meat, eggs, fish or beans are generally sufficient to prevent low levels of lysine and hair loss. People most at risk of suffering from lysine insufficiency are vegans who do not consume enough legumes and athletes whose muscular physiques require higher protein demands.
The ability of lysine to block the enzyme 5-alpha reductase type 2 helps in preventing baldness, particularly male-patterned baldness characterized by the loss of hair at the front and top of the head. This enzyme is known for converting testosterone in the body into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which causes hair follicles to stop producing hair. In the presence of lysine, however, the enzyme’s conversion power is inhibited. While the correlation between lysine and hair loss linked to DHT affects mainly men, women can still benefit from lysine beyond its collagen formation powers. Research shows that while iron supplementation is often prescribed for women with hair loss, lysine is typically prescribed simultaneously because it enhances iron’s ability to reverse alopecia.
Bodily stores of lysine can often be replenished through supplementation. Trichologists suggest that 500 mg to 800 mg a day may be sufficient to halt or reverse hair loss linked to a dearth of lysine. The benefits of using supplementation to treat a lack of lysine and hair loss include convenience and multiple forms of application and consumption. Many companies produce lysine-based creams that can be rubbed into the scalp and hair; there are also liquid lysine supplements touted for their quick absorption. Capsules and tablets are alternative options.
While natural lysine obtained from a balanced diet is safe, high lysine supplementation for long periods of time can often result in gall stones. Other side effects of lysine supplementation include higher cholesterol and kidney malfunction or complete renal failure. People already plagued by kidney or liver disorders are advised by doctors to avoid lysine supplementation, as are pregnant women.