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Can Spermidine Supplements Make You Look Younger?

Posted on 20 November 2023

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Spermidine is a natural compound that is found in many living organisms, including humans. It’s a type of polyamine and was originally isolated from semen, which is where it got its name. It has various functions in the body, such as maintaining DNA stability, regulating cell growth and death, and enhancing the process of autophagy, (the removal of damaged cellular components). Based on what we know of the hallmarks of ageing, the above effects should, in theory, delay the ageing process. Research is currently ongoing to investigate whether spermidine can delay age-related diseases. However, spermidine may also have some cosmetic benefits. Let’s take a look at a few studies that have investigated these benefits. How good is the evidence?

Hair Loss:

Cells within the hair follicle are dependent on spermidine and polyamines for their growth. Studies have shown that spermidine can promote hair growth in animal models and in human scalp samples. There is also some evidence in healthy humans. This study, for example, recruited 100 people and randomised them to receive either spermidine or a placebo for 90 days. They found that the spermidine group had significantly more hair follicles in the anagen phase (the phase in which hair is growing) and had less apoptosis (self-destruction) of hair bulb cells. They also fared significantly better in pull tests – this is where a dermatologist gently pulls on small sections of hair and counts how many fall out as a measurement of active hair loss.

While these results are promising, the evidence for spermidine preventing hair loss in humans remains fairly limited. We also don’t know if spermidine can reverse existing hair loss.

Hair Greying:

Image by Freepik

Hair is naturally grey, with its colour coming from pigments produced by melanocytes in the hair follicle. These melanocytes produce less pigment as we get older and eventually die off. Spermidine has been found to stabilise proteins that are important for pigment production, suggesting that it may be able to prevent hair greying. Unfortunately, all accounts of spermidine preventing or reversing hair greying in humans appear to be anecdotal, as we could not find any human trials confirming this benefit.

Skin Quality:

Ageing leads to the degradation of skin quality, such as sagging and the development of wrinkles. Skin ageing isn’t just cosmetic – as we age the skin becomes thinner and more fragile, and also takes longer to heal. Much of this degradation is due to reduced production of key structural proteins like collagen and elastin. Spermidine shows potential to slow skin ageing due to its ability to support collagen, elastin and lipid synthesis in aged cells. In fact, several studies suggest that spermidine secreted by Streptococcus bacteria that live on our skin may play an important role in skin health. Unfortunately, the benefits of either oral or topical spermidine for human skin health remain largely unexplored, though there’s some animal evidence that spermidine (both topically and orally) reduced inflammation and improved wound healing.

Photo by Carolina Heza on Unsplash

The Take-Home Message:

Spermidine is a promising supplement for delaying cosmetic ageing that deserves further investigation, but right now we don’t have a lot of data to support its use in humans. Those studies that are looking at spermidine are mainly focussed on debilitating diseases of ageing such as dementia and cardiovascular disease. That being said, spermidine appears to be safe, with no severe side effects reported other than at very high doses. You are unlikely to harm your health by taking spermidine, but it is always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before taking a dietary supplement.

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    Title image by Freepik

    A spermidine-based nutritional supplement prolongs the anagen phase of hair follicles in humans: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study

    A systematic exploration reveals the potential of spermidine for hypopigmentation treatment through the stabilization of melanogenesis-associated proteins

    Spermidine-induced recovery of human dermal structure and barrier function by skin microbiome

    Spermidine-induced recovery of human dermal structure and barrier function by skin microbiome

    Systemic and topical administration of spermidine accelerates skin wound healing

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