What is L-Histidine?
L-Histidine is an essential amino acid, meaning the body needs it but cannot innately produce it. It’s a precursor to histamine and l-carnosine. When first discovered, scientists believed it was a semi-essential amino acid required only by children for normal growth. However, researchers later determined that adults need it to make red blood cells and the protective myelin sheaths that insulate nerves.
Histidine deficiencies can be difficult to recognize, as the body can compensate to the detriment of carnosine and hemoglobin concentrations. Histidine deficiencies slowly cause negative nitrogen balances, which impair the body’s ability to repair tissues, weaken the immune system, and hinder protein synthesis. Long-term negative nitrogen balances can make the body more susceptible to certain toxins and infections. They can also result in anemia. Other signs of histidine deficiencies include inflammation, joint pain, and difficulty achieving orgasm in women.
L-Histidine Base vs. L-Histidine HCl
The primary difference between l-histidine base powder and l-histidine HCl is that the HCl form includes hydrochloric acid. Both supplements provide bioavailable histidine, but individuals with sensitive stomachs may prefer l-histidine HCl.
Potential Histidine Benefits
Histidine and Immune Health
Histamine acts as an antioxidant and immunomodulator in the immune system. It supports the immune response by activating immunity cells. It also influences the antibody immune response by regulating helper cells that target known antigens. It also plays a role in the allergic and inflammatory responses to pathogens. Worsening allergic reactions can indicate histidine levels are low. Lastly, histidine has chelating properties that allow it to bind to and cleanse the body of toxic heavy metals.
Histidine and Skin Health
The skin barrier relies on several proteins to maintain its health and function. Filaggrin proteins are essential for maintaining healthy skin. The filaggrin proteins release histidine into the skin, where it functions as a natural moisturizing factor (NMF). NMFs help maintain moisture and reduce inflammation for a healthier skin barrier. Histidine is also a precursor to urocanic acid—a natural sunscreen produced in the body. While it provides an added layer of protection against skin-damaging UV rays, it cannot supplant sunscreen.
Histidine and Joint Health
Histidine may benefit joint health due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Histidine scavenges hydroxyl and oxygen free radicals that inflict oxidative damage on joints. The onset of joint health problems has direct ties to low histidine levels. Insufficient histidine can also worsen inflammation and oxidative stress.
Potential Histidine Side Effects
Scientific studies haven’t reported any side effects from taking typical histidine doses. However, taking doses in excess of 20-60 times the recommended amount can result in nausea, negative moods, confusion, and headaches. Extremely large doses can increase zinc uptake in the intestines and result in a zinc deficiency.
Some individuals may experience digestive upset while taking l-histidine base powder, as it may neutralize stomach acid. PureBulk also carries l-histidine HCl, which may be gentler on the digestive system.
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