Lysine is one of the vital amino acids our bodies require to help uphold protein for growth and to aid in maintaining the body's nitrogen balance. It also plays significant roles in cholesterol management, calcium absorption and collagen formation.
In simple terms, lysine benefits the treatment of cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus. It is also touted as a natural remedy for a number of other health problems, including genital herpes and shingles.
What is Lysine?
Lysine is an amino acid found in the protein of foods including beans, cheese, yogurt, meat, milk, wheat germ, and other animal proteins.
Lysine is a vital amino acid in human nutrition as the body itself cannot produce it. Therefore it must be taken by diet or supplementation. The average 70kg human requires 800 to 3,000mg of lysine daily.
Some studies have found that taking lysine on a regular basis may help prevent outbreaks of cold sores and genital herpes.
The antiviral effects of lysine have proved effective in lowering the ratio of arginine, which promotes HSV (Herpes Simplex Virus) replication, to lysine.
Since the body cannot produce its own form of lysine, it is best to consume foods rich in protein. These includes meat (specifically red meat, pork and poultry), cheese (particularly parmesan), certain kinds of fish (such as cod and sardines), nuts, eggs, and soybeans. Beans and other legumes, and dairy products also contain lysine.
Lysine health benefits may include
- Treatment and prevention of cold sores
- Treatment of anxiety
- Treatment and prevention of osteoporosis
- Enhancement of the immune system
Lysine and cold sores and herpes
Herpes outbreaks are typically painful and unsightly, as well as contagious. Anywhere from 60 to 90 percent of us carry herpes simplex 1, which is virtually always the culprit in cold sores or fever blisters that erupt around the mouth, probably as a result of a childhood infection.
Herpes simplex 2, is generally responsible for genital herpes, however both forms of the virus can cause eruptions on the genitals and around the mouth.
Lysine is predominantly effective in preventing recurrence of the infection, and studies have demonstrated that lysine treatment can be very beneficial to cold sore sufferers.
The most effective pattern for taking lysine to prevent cold sores is to take a maintenance dosage as a preventative and then increase this dosage if you experience an outbreak of the infection.
Lysine and collagen
Collagen binds cells together giving them structure and support, and lysine acts to block enzymes which break down collagen. Reports show that vitamin C in combination with lysine and the amino acid, proline, form procollagen from which different types of collagen are formed in the body.
Studies state that some people supplement with lysine to protect against the virus that causes cold sores and genital herpes.
Lysine and the immune system
L-Lysine plays a predominantly important role in the immune system. However, since it cannot be produced by the body you must get lysine through your diet.
Many foods contain lysine, but if you have allergies or eat a vegan diet you may need to supplement your lysine intake. Consuming both lysine with arginine will give you the full effects of boosting your immune system.
Lysine and osteoporosis
Lysine helps the body absorb calcium and decreases the amount of calcium that is lost in urine. Preliminary research in animals suggests that the supplements may increase the body's absorption of calcium and, in turn, shield from bone loss.
Because calcium is crucial for bone health, some researchers believe that lysine may help prevent bone loss associated with osteoporosis. However this study is yet to be confirmed in the treatment of osteoporosis in humans.
Who may benefit from taking a Lysine supplement?
Lysine benefits may include those
- to treat metabolic disorders
- to treat lysine deficiency
- to increase calcium absorption
- to manage pain
- to manage type 2 diabetes
- to improve athletic performance
- wanting to promote growth in children
- needing to reduce stress and anxiety
Lysine acid interactions and combinations
One possible lysine interaction is with arginine. Arginine and lysine share common pathways in the body. High levels of arginine may lower lysine levels in the body.
Another possible lysine interaction is with aminoglycoside antibiotics (gentamicin, neomycin, streptomycin, etc). Taken with lysine it may increase the risk of nephrotoxicity, which is a poisonous effect on the kidneys. Please consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking any form of lysine supplements, if you are taking antibiotics.
Lysine dosage recommendations
If you are considering giving lysine supplements to a child in puberty, it is recommended you speak with your pediatrician regarding appropriate dosages. Lysine dosage is usually based on body weight.
For adults, ages 13 and older, the recommended dosage is 12 mg per kg/day. An example of a dose often used during an active herpes flare up is 3,000 - 9,000 mg/day in divided doses for a short period of time.
For the prevention of recurrences, many people have that taking 1,000 mg daily has proved effective.
However, it is best to discuss and determine the right lysine dosage for your particular situation with your health care provider. Lysine supplements are available in the form of lysine capsules, tablets, creams, and liquids.
Why take a Lysine supplement?
- Studies have shown that taking lysine on a regular basis may help prevent outbreaks of cold sores and genital herpes.
- Lysine is an essential amino acid, meaning it is necessary for human health, however the body can't produce it, so you must get it through food or from supplements.
- Lysine is important for proper growth; it plays an essential role in the production of carnitine, a nutrient responsible for converting fatty acids into energy and helping to lower cholesterol.
Other names of Lysine
Amino acid K; L-lysine, IUPAC name: 2,6-diaminohexanoic acid