Like so many questions relating to hair loss, this one is difficult to answer with any degree of certainty.
Glutamine is an amino acid that is important for our overall health. So, the question “can glutamine deficiency cause hair loss?” can probably be answered with a “yes” but there are complications to consider.
Where it comes from
Glutamine is sometimes referred to as a “secondary amino acid” to reflect the fact that our bodies don’t necessarily need to take it in directly through food. Typically, the body will synthesise glutamine by converting proteins we’ve eaten.
That’s just one of the many reasons why extreme caution is required before adopting over any period, a diet that strips entire food groups out of your diet – in this case, low-protein diets. It’s always advisable to consult your doctor well before starting a radical diet of that type.
High-protein foodstuffs such as meat, vegetables, beans, dairy products and nuts, are all good sources of protein.
What it does
Glutamine is very important to a wide range of the body’s normal healthy functions.
Amongst other things, it helps to:
- synthesise lipids and proteins;
- create cellular energy;
- regulate kidney acid balance.
As you might imagine, if your body is suffering from a glutamine deficiency, then aspects of its health overall will suffer.
What causes such deficiencies?
Almost everyone will, at some time in their life, suffer a glutamine deficiency.
The causes of such problems are usually attributable to one or more of age, illness, stress or sometimes an accident/injury. In some cases, a specific cause may never be identified.
How does glutamine affect the hair?
Keratin is the major part of your hair. It, in turn, contains considerable quantities of something called cysteine.
Sulphur is a very important building block of cysteine and it’s believed that glutamine is a big factor in helping to deliver sulphur to the scalp.
It’s a rather long set of links but that’s why glutamine deficiencies may harm the health of your hair.
However, the position is complicated.
For example, almost any deficiency in amino acids is likely to have negative health consequences. Such conditions may well have a secondary effect of increasing hair loss, hair drop or simply degrading the overall health of your hair via brittleness etc. That means the links between glutamine and hair loss may be of a ‘knock-on’ nature rather than direct.
Other physical symptoms of glutamine deficiency
There are many possible symptoms, just a few of which might include:
- delays in healing after cuts and bruises;
- inexplicable cravings for energy-boost related food (e.g., chocolate, cakes etc.);
- bowel problems;
- reducing muscle mass/muscle wasting;
- unusual fatigue after even moderate exercise;
- anxiety attacks or depression.
As always, you should never self-diagnose. If you’re experiencing any of the above negative health symptoms and they have continued for more than a few days, you should consult your doctor.
Questions about supplements
Glutamine supplements can be taken although these are usually tried in medical cases only after efforts have been made to modify the diet.
Some sports enthusiasts have taken glutamine supplements usually linked to a desire to improve their muscle mass but this is now believed to be misguided, as many amino acids and other factors also affect muscle mass.
As with any supplements, taking them to excess without prior consultation with a doctor may lead to unintended negative health consequences. Those in turn may have unfortunate side effects on the health of your scalp and hair.
It’s important to have a consultation with a hair care specialist before taking any supplement in the hope it will improve your hair health.