Histidine Introduction

Although considered essential, histidine use in adult physiology remains quite limited. This amino acid is often referred to as “semi-, or conditionally essential.” Adults, seemingly, never need to supplement their diets with histidine due to the manufacturing process taking place in the liver from other amino acids. However, children and infants are the exception. This is due to the importance of proper growth and development. In this demographic (infants and children) histidine is considered essential and must be obtained from the diet.

Histidine is one of the most common of all naturally occurring amino acids. It is found in large concentrations in skeletal muscle. The dipeptides found in muscle (anserine and carnosine) are both comprised of one part L-Histamine, and one part beta-alanine.

Histidine’s primary responsibility lies within its ability to aid the human body with the growth and repair of tissues. It also serves as the primary amino acid responsible for maintaining the myelin sheaths that surround and protect delicate nerve cells. This amino acid is also a significant component in many fundamental human metabolic processes. It aids in the production of red and white blood cells, increases sexual functioning in adults, helps to regulate and stabilize blood pressure, and assists in ridding the body of (metallic) toxins via the circulatory system.

Histidine is also the precursor to histamine biosynthesis. Histamine is the compound released by the immune system during an allergic or inflammatory reaction.

Histidine Food Sources

Histidine is found in large concentrations in both animal and vegetable proteins. The best sources include; dairy products, meats, poultry, fish, wheat, and rye. Serving sizes below are based upon 100 grams of a given food source and are expressed in milligrams, representing the amount of histidine contained.

Nut and Seed Products
mg/100g Food Name
2403 Seeds, sunflower seed flour, partially defatted
2157 Seeds, sesame flour, low-fat
1796 Seeds, cottonseed flour, low fat (glandless)

Legumes and Legume Products
mg/100g Food Name
2300 Soy protein isolate
1580 Soy protein concentrate, produced by alcohol extraction
1580 Soy protein concentrate, produced by acid wash
1390 Tofu, dried-frozen (koyadofu)
1390 Tofu, dried-frozen (koyadofu), prepared with calcium sulfate
1320 Peanut flour, defatted
1270 Soy flour, defatted
1260 Soy flour, low-fat

Finfish and Shellfish Products
mg/100g Food Name
1850 Fish, cod, Atlantic, dried and salted

Pork Products
mg/100g Food Name
1390 Pork, cured, bacon, cooked, broiled, pan-fried or roasted, reduced sodium
1340 Pork, cured, bacon, cooked, baked
1290 Pork, fresh, loin, center loin (chops), bone-in, separable lean only, cooked, pan-fried
1270 Pork, fresh, loin, top loin (chops), boneless, separable lean and fat, cooked, braised
1240 Pork, fresh, loin, sirloin (chops), boneless, separable lean only, cooked, broiled
1240 Pork, fresh, shoulder, blade, boston (steaks), separable lean only, cooked, braised
1240 Pork, fresh, loin, top loin (chops), boneless, separable lean and fat, cooked, pan-broiled

Lamb, Veal, and Game Products
mg/100g Food Name
1490 Game meat, deer, cooked, roasted
1400 Game meat, antelope, cooked, roasted
1330 Veal, leg (top round), separable lean only, cooked, braised
1270 Veal, cubed for stew (leg and shoulder), separable lean only, cooked, braised
1250 Veal, rib, separable lean only, cooked, braised

Dairy and Egg Products
mg/100g Food Name
1830 Egg, white, dried
1750 Egg, white, dried, flakes, glucose reduced
1610 Cheese, parmesan, shredded


Histidine Uses

Suplementally, histamine has been used for a multitude of diseases and conditions affecting the human body. Clinical application and studies of histidine have conducted for use in the treatments of cardiovascular disease, anemia, allergic disorders, and sexual health.

As mentioned, histidine is a needed nutrient in the formation of the immune system. In conjunction with the B-vitamin compounds B3 and B6, supplemental forms of histidine will be biosynthesized into histamine. Histamine is known to produce certain anti-allergy and and anti-inflammatory reactions, but unknown to many, may be equally beneficial in enhancing sexual arousal. [2] The supplementation of histidine may ultimately assist in the lengthening of orgasms and provide for a more intense and enjoyable sexual experience.

Histamine is also significant in the production of stomach acid. Persons with a shortage of gastric juices, or individuals suffering from common indigestion, may benefit from dietary supplementation of histidine.

Individuals suffering from rheumatoid arthritis often exhibit lower levels of histidine as well. Symptoms of arthritis can often times improve with the addition of histidine into diet. [3] Supplemented dosages range from 1000 - 1500 milligrams taken three times daily.

Histidine also produces a hypotensive effect (lowers blood pressure) via the autonomic nervous system. It may also inhibit the transition of HIV to AIDS, act as an antioxidant from external radiation and as a chelating agent to metal; thereby improving the absorption of specific minerals. [2]

Histidine Dosages

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences recommends that healthy people achieve .36 grams of highly bioavailable protein for each pound of bodyweight - equaling 0.8 grams of protein, per kilogram of bodyweight. Listed below are the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) for the majority of amino acids, including histidine.

Requirement - mg. per kg. of body weight
Amino acid Infant 3 - 6 mo. Child 10 - 12 yr. Adults
Histidine 33 not known not known
Isoleucine 80 28 12
Leucine 128 42 16
Lysine 97 44 12
S-containing amino acids 45 22 10
Aromatic amino acids 132 22 16
Threonine 63 28 8
Tryptophan 19 4 3
Valine 89 25 14


Histidine Toxicities and Deficiencies

Histidine Toxicities

Although research in toxicities has not been conclusively proven, it is theorized that excessive levels of histidine may lead to certain psychological disorders; chiefly, anxiety and schizophrenia. A common trait of schizophrenics are extremely high levels of histidine throughout the body.

Histidine Deficiencies

Deficiencies of histidine have been reported when combined with the amino acid methionine. Individuals suffering from rheumatoid arthritis have also been shown to possess inadequate levels of this particular amino acid; they may be at the greatest risk for onset of deficiency. Nerve deafness may result due to prolonged inadequacies of histidine as well.

In addition, histidinemia is an inborn error characterized by the inability to metabolize histidine, due to the deficiency of the enzyme histidase. Persons suffering from this condition usually exhibit excessive amounts of this essential amino acid in the blood and urine. Diagnosis of histidinemia is often acheived by using clinical testing procedures to determine the underlying cause of speech disorders and mental retardation.


1. Nutrition Data. “999 Foods; Highest in histidine.” (2004) http://www.pdrhealth.com/drug_info/nmdrugprofiles/herbaldrugs/101840.shtml

2. Balch, Phyllis A., James F. “Amino Acids.” Prescription for Nutritional Healing. Ed. Amy C. Tecklenberg. New York, NY: Penguin Putnam Inc., 3rd Ed. 2000. 42-53.

3. Gerber DA, Gerber MG. Specificity of a low free histidine concentration for rheumatoid arthritis. J Chronic Dis 1977; 30:115-27.

4. Zest for life information page. “RDA of amino acids.” (1999-2003) http://www.pdrhealth.com/drug_info/nmdrugprofiles/herbaldrugs/101840.shtml (14 Sept. 2004).