Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Whether as a dietary supplement for vegetarians or in combination with zinc, histidine is increasingly attracting the attention of food researchers. If you are wondering whether it makes sense for you to take histidine, you have come to the right place.

Welcome to our big histidine test 2021. In the following, we will give you all the necessary information about histidine itself and its effects. We will also help you to clarify the question of when taking pure histidine or a histidine+zinc combination preparation can be helpful.




The most important facts

  • Histidine is a basic amino acid that is the starting material for haemoglobin and histamine. A histidine deficiency can occur especially in children during the growth phase and in cases of kidney insufficiency.
  • Histidine is often taken together with zinc. When taken together, histidine increases the absorption and bioavailability of zinc and thus enhances its effects.
  • But pure zinc preparations are also available over-the-counter. These supplements play a role in regulating the nutrient content of the blood and can be purchased in drugstores and pharmacies.

The Best Histidine: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying histidine

What is histidine?

Histidine is a basic amino acid and belongs to the group of semi-essential amino acids.

Histidine is involved in the catalytic triad that catalyses protein degradation.

For some groups of people, however, histidine is so central that it counts as an essential amino acid. These include children in the growth phase and people with renal insufficiency.

There are two types, D- and L-histamine, whereby only the latter is of biological relevance. In addition, histidine is the starting material for haemoglobin, the red blood pigment. Histidine should not be confused with histamine, because histidine is a precursor for the synthesis of histamine and glutamate.

Which foods contain histidine?

In general, histidine can be produced naturally in the body. However, the synthesis is so low that histidine has to be taken in mainly from food.

Histidin-1

Histidine is found in many everyday foods. Tuna in particular contains a lot of histidine and is thus a suitable natural source of histidine.
(Image source: pixabay / bigtorica)

Between 8 and 12 milligrams of histidine per kilogram of body weight are recommended. Histidine is found in the following foods, among others:

foods milligrams of histidine per 100g
chicken meat 840 mg
tuna 1090 mg
salmon 660 mg
soybeans 810 mg
lentils 710 mg

Other foods in which histidine is naturally present are:

  • Nuts
  • Milk
  • Peas

Since these foods are very common and processed in many products, histidine deficiency rarely occurs. Nevertheless, adequate histidine intake should be ensured, especially in children and growing children as well as in people suffering from renal insufficiency.

How does histidine work?

Histidine has different mechanisms of action and can thus achieve various health effects. Especially when taken together with zinc, various effects have been proven, e.g.

  • Increase zinc bioavailability
  • Common colds
  • Dermatological diseases and alopecia
  • Rheumatoid arthritis and wound healing

In the following we will explain in more detail what influence the administration of histidine has on the body processes just mentioned.

Zinc bioavailability

Taking zinc and histidine together has numerous advantages over taking zinc supplements alone. The combination of zinc and histidine increases the bioavailability of zinc, as histidine increases zinc absorption (1).

Overall, a 30-40% increase in the total absorption of zinc has been shown with zinc+histidine vs. zinc alone (2). In addition, when the two preparations are administered together, further specific effects occur that can only be achieved when histidine and zinc are combined.

Common colds

In the case of colds and infections, the administration of a zinc+histidine complex is recommended (3). Since zinc levels are low during inflammatory processes and only return to normal after the inflammation has subsided (4), zinc supplementation is useful. As just described, histidine helps to speed up the absorption of zinc.

Dermatological diseases and alopecia

Patients suffering from alopecia areata experience sudden hair loss, which is usually caused by inflammation. In them, a reduced zinc level could be proven, which is why the administration of zinc makes sense. Since histidine increases the zinc absorption, a combination product is recommended here (5, 6).

Psoriasis is a type of psoriasis that belongs to the chronic skin diseases. A deficiency of zinc and histidine has been shown in psoriasis sufferers (7). Therefore, a histidine+zinc complex can also be taken in this case.

Rheumatoid arthritis and wound healing

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis often have reduced histidine levels. There are indications that chronic inflammations such as rheumatoid arthritis not only increase the consumption of zinc, but also of histidine (8).

By administering a zinc+histidine combination preparation, these two substances can be balanced at the same time. Histidine also plays a role in wound healing and tissue repair (9).

When and for whom is histidine suitable?

Histidine is suitable for anyone who has a health problem for which histidine effectiveness has been proven. As described above, this concerns, among others, the following physical impairments

  • Chronic renal failure
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Chronic inflammatory diseases
  • Common colds

If you have problems with any of the health conditions just described, supplementation with histidine or histidine+zinc may be appropriate. You should talk to your doctor about when exactly and in what dosage you can take histidine.

What do histidine preparations cost?

Histidine preparations are available for as little as 15 €. The price varies depending on whether you want to buy pure histidine or a zinc-histidine complex. Pure histidine is available from €20, while zinc+histidine is a little cheaper at €15. There are even cheaper products in the drugstore. Pay attention to the dosage of histidine to be able to compare the different products.

Type of histidine preparation Price
Histidine From 20 €
Zinc+Histidine complex From 15 €
Did you know that you can also buy histidine products in the drugstore? Although there is probably a larger selection in pharmacies, you can find simple histidine preparations over-the-counter in common drugstores.

What are the side effects of taking histidine?

Like all medicines, histidine should be taken according to the package leaflet. The daily intake should not be exceeded. It is also recommended to take it on an empty stomach, together with liquid. Possible side effects of taking histidine are:

  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Increased secretion of gastric acid
  • Itchy skin and hives

Contact a health care professional if you experience any unusual side effects from taking histidine.

Decision: What types of histidine are there and which is right for you?

Like many dietary supplements, histidine can be taken alone or as a combination preparation. The following types of histidine are particularly popular:

  • Pure histidine
  • Histidine + Zinc

Histidine is often combined with zinc, as the histidine is thought to help with the absorption of zinc. The advantages and disadvantages of taking pure histidine or histidine+zinc are explained below.

What characterises pure histidine and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Since histidine is involved in the synthesis of histamine and haemoglobin, the administration of pure histidine is helpful for the regulation of the nutrient content in the blood. In addition, histidine is found mainly in foods of animal origin, so vegetarians should consider substituting with histidine. Histidine can also be taken as needed and does not have to be constantly substituted.

Since the combination product zinc+histidine is more common than pure histidine preparations, there is only a small selection of histidine products. In addition, pure histidine is not a practical combination product, so that several individual medications have to be taken daily if needed. The zinc balance is also not influenced by the pure substitution of histidine, so that any health benefits resulting from this are omitted.

Advantages
  • Regulation of the nutrient content in the blood
  • Food supplement for vegetarians
  • Can be taken as needed
Disadvantages
  • Little choice of products
  • No practical combination preparation
  • No influence on zinc balance

What distinguishes the histidine+zinc complex and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

When taking a histidine+zinc complex, the absorption of zinc is improved. In addition, the bioavailability of zinc increases through simultaneous intake with histidine. It is practical in everyday life that only one preparation needs to be taken.

However, you should note that histidine in combination products can often be taken in lower doses than in pure histidine products. In a complex with zinc, histidine is mainly responsible for zinc absorption, and the independent effects of histidine take a back seat. In addition, zinc+histidine preparations are often more expensive than pure histidine, as several active substances are combined.

Advantages
  • Better absorption of zinc
  • Higher zinc bioavailability
  • Taking only one preparation is necessary
Disadvantages
  • Histidine often in lower doses
  • Independent effects of histidine in the background
  • More expensive due to combination with zinc

Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate histidine products based on these factors

Ingredients

Not all histidine supplements contain only histidine. Look for information on allergens such as lactose, fructose or soya. Histidine preparations may also contain sweeteners, colourings or additives.

Since histidine occurs naturally in animal products, it is often used by vegetarians as a dietary supplement. If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, you should make sure that the product is free of animal products.

Stock

The shelf life of histidine supplements varies depending on the manufacturer. If you use histidine as a daily supplement, the shelf life is not quite as relevant as if you use it sporadically. If, for example, you want to transfer individual capsules from the original packaging, you should make a note of the expiry date beforehand.

The amount of powder or the number of capsules also varies between suppliers. The usual quantity is about 100-150 capsules and about 200-300 g of powder. If you only take histidine as needed, a smaller amount is sufficient, otherwise the expiry date will quickly be exceeded.

Dosage

The dosage of histidine in the capsules is also relevant. Especially with mixed products of zinc and histidine, the dosage is important. Make sure not to exceed the recommended intake of histidine or zinc. The manufacturer's instructions must also be followed when taking the powder.

Histidin-2

Histidine can be bought either as a powder or in capsules. In contrast to capsules, powder can be dosed individually.
(Image source: pixabay / sarahisaghost)

Quality

The quality of food supplements is essential. Manufacturers use different guidelines and quality guarantees to ensure this. Not all products have the organic seal either.

Depending on how much money you can or want to spend, it is worth paying attention to organic quality.

One TÜV seal you should look out for is the HACCP seal. This is a risk analysis of critical control points that is carried out during the production of the products.

Interesting facts about histidine

How, when and for how long is it best to take histidine?

Histidine can be taken as a dietary supplement if it is suspected that not enough histidine is being consumed in the diet. For adults, the average daily histidine requirement is approximately 0.5 to 1 g. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for the recommended amount to be consumed.

You can take histidine either continuously or as needed. It should be taken on an empty stomach as it is better absorbed that way.

Picture source: pixabay / sarahisaghost

References (9)

1. Physiologische und klinische Bedeutung des Spurenelementes Zink.
Source

2. Bioverfügbarkeit von Zink-Histidin Komplexen: Vergleich von Zinksulfaten bei Männern.
Source

3. Der Wirkmechanismus von Zink bei Erkältungen.
Source

4. (Lansdown, A. B. et al. Br J Dermatol 1997, 137 (5), 728-735.)
Source

5. Analyse von Zink Level bei Hauterkrankungen.
Source

6. Alopecia bei Jugendlichen vs. Erwachsenen.
Source

7. Zinkverteilungsstörung bei Psoriasis.
Source

8. Der Effekt von Medikamenten auf das Histidin-Level bei Patienten mit rheumatischer Arthritis.
Source

9. Histamin Synthese und Wundheilung.
Source

Why you can trust me?

Pharmazeutische Zeitung
Physiologische und klinische Bedeutung des Spurenelementes Zink.
Go to source
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Bioverfügbarkeit von Zink-Histidin Komplexen: Vergleich von Zinksulfaten bei Männern.
Go to source
JAMA Internal Medicine
Der Wirkmechanismus von Zink bei Erkältungen.
Go to source
Zink bei Entzündungen
(Lansdown, A. B. et al. Br J Dermatol 1997, 137 (5), 728-735.)
Go to source
The Journal of Dermatology
Analyse von Zink Level bei Hauterkrankungen.
Go to source
Clinical and Experimental Dermatology
Alopecia bei Jugendlichen vs. Erwachsenen.
Go to source
Archives of Dermatological Research
Zinkverteilungsstörung bei Psoriasis.
Go to source
Rheumatology International
Der Effekt von Medikamenten auf das Histidin-Level bei Patienten mit rheumatischer Arthritis.
Go to source
Surgery
Histamin Synthese und Wundheilung.
Go to source
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