Melanin for hair pigmentation and hair growth
In this post I’m going to explore something called melanin. I explore the relationship between melanin and hair, and I look into a number of studies that may support the link between melanin and hair growth as it promotes the growth of hair shafts. Learn more about what melanin is, and food sources from which we can get more of this nutritional compound to not only prevent premature graying but also potentially promoting healthier hair growth.
What is melanin?
Melanin refers to a group of natural pigments produced by a group of pigment cells called melanocytes.Through a process called melanogenesis, melanocytes produce melanin. On hair follicle pigmentation quoted from one study’s abstract, “Follicular melanogenesis (FM) involves sequentially the melanogenic activity of follicular melanocytes, the transfer of melanin granules into cortical and medulla keratinocytes, and the formation of pigmented hair shafts.”
On another publication, “Hair is commonly pigmented because of the presence of melanin in hair shafts, which in turn is synthesized by follicular melanocytes and then transferred to the neighboring hair progenitors that give rise to hair shafts.”
The relationship between melanin and hair growth
Although direct link between the synthesis of melanin and hair growth perhaps doesn’t appear to have been well studied or established, a number of studies that look into whether “alopecia areata an autoimmune-response against melanogenesis-related proteins” appear to sufficiently suggest that “the development of hair is also accompanied by pigmentation that is contributed to the hair shafts by melanocytes”, or in other words, in my understanding, a link between hair pigmentation through melanogenesis and the growth of hair shaft.
Links to studies referenced to are included at the bottom of this post.
Where and how do we get more melanin: Food sources
Melanin is produced by our body through oxidation of non-essential amino acid tyrosine and other nutrients such as copper. Therefore, you can help your body ‘make more’ melanin by eating foods that are rich in the nutrients required for the production of melanin.
Food sources that are rich in tyrosine include almonds, avocados, bananas, dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, lima beans, chicken, turkey, and fish (seafood).
Copper helps our body produce melanin as well as elastin which is also beneficial for skin health. Copper is found in seafood such as oysters and shellfish, organ meats such as liver and kidney, beans, nuts, and dark leafy greens.
Dark-coloured foods believed to help hair pigmentation
The following is a list of dark coloured foods that are believed in the traditional Chinese cuisine and medicine to contribute to pigmentation of hair and the prevention of premature hair graying. With the link between hair pigmentation through melanogenesis and the growth of hair shaft being somewhat established, these foods are worth including in our diet as they also contain other nutrients – such as proteins – that help boost hair growth and hair health overall.
- Nori/seaweed/kelp (also a good source of iodine)
- Fermented black beans
- Black dates
- Black (fermented) garlic
- Wood ear mushrooms (also a good source of plant protein and fibre)
- Black sesame (in ground/powder form as well as black sesame oil)
- Shitake mushrooms (also a good source of polysaccharides)
- Sea cucumber
- Silkie chicken
The bottomline on melanin for hair growth
Including these foods into our diet work alongside the whole idea of nourishing from the inside out. By eating more of the good stuff, you leave less room for the not-so-good stuff. Foods that are rich in nutrients that help our body make more melanin are also foods that contain other nutrients beneficial for overall health. And overall health is important to enable us to have healthy hair growth.
SC | Winning Alopecia
All information on this website is meant for informational purposes only. It contains my own personal opinions and interpretation of acquired information. The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products and information on this website are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease. Readers are advised to do their own research and make decisions in partnership with their health care provider. If you are pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition or are taking any medication, please consult your physician.