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You may have never heard of lysine, but you most likely consume it every day. Lysine is one of the 20 amino acids that are the building blocks of life. It is an essential amino acid that is needed for growth and repair in humans. Our bodies cannot manufacture this amino acid on their own, so we must get it from food or supplements.
Lysine consumption may have an impact on many common health issues such as anxiety, menopause symptoms, and osteoporosis.
Lysine can be found in animal protein foods such as meat and eggs. Vegans and vegetarians who are not taking a dietary supplement are at a greater risk of being deficient in lysine and other essential nutrients (like vitamin B6 and vitamin C).
This article will discuss 10 benefits of lysine that you may not have known about!
What is Lysine?
Lysine is one of the essential amino acids that is found in protein-rich foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products. The body cannot manufacture it so we must consume our daily requirement of lysine in the form of food or supplements.
Why do we Need Lysine?
Lysine is responsible for a host of functions within the body, chief among them the building of muscle tissue. It also helps to absorb calcium, form collagen (a protein critical to connective tissues), lower cholesterol, and maintain a healthy immune system. Lysine is also important for the production of antibodies, hormones, and enzymes.
How can we get More Lysine?
Lysine can be obtained from food sources or by taking supplements. Foods that are high in lysine include meat, cheese, fish such as cod, eggs, and soybeans. Lysine is also one of the five amino acids included in each GOOD IDEA drink, making GOOD IDEA a great way to increase your daily lysine intake while simultaneously helping to regulate blood sugar levels.
To get enough lysine through diet or supplements, you need to get at least 8-10 mg of lysine per day. Most people get around 10-14 mg per day by eating foods like meat and eggs, but vegetarians need to be more conscious of their intake. The good news is, there are multiple ways for non-meat eaters to consume this essential amino acid. Soybeans, spirulina, fenugreek seed, brewer’s yeast, and beans are all great sources of lysine.
Health Benefits of Lysine
Lysine has many health benefits ranging from improvements in sleep quality to collagen production to metabolism support. Here is a sampling of ten health benefits that are associated with lysine.
1. Lysine may aid in Stress Relief
Lysine helps to control the brain chemicals responsible for stress responses. By blocking the receptors that are involved in the stress response, lysine can help to reduce the symptoms of anxiety.
Research studies have used dosages ranging from 2.64 g of lysine to 4.2 g of lysine to significantly reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol as well as reduce anxiety scores in high-stress male adults.
2. Lysine may Help to Reduce Blood Pressure
Lysine may be an effective natural remedy for high blood pressure. The amino acid helps the kidneys filter out salt and water from the body, which can lower blood pressure naturally. Eating potassium-rich foods may also be beneficial to those concerned about their blood pressure since potassium counteracts the effects of a high sodium diet.
3. Lysine may Reduce Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Outbreaks
4. Lysine May Help Reduce Osteoporosis
Lysine helps the body absorb calcium which is important for maintaining strong bones. If you're not getting enough lysine, it may be difficult to keep your bones strong and healthy. This is especially true for a special subsection of athletes.
While most athletes (especially those who participate in weight-bearing sports) are not at risk of developing osteoporosis, female athletes who are consistently in an energy deficit are the exception. Female athletes with low energy availability can lead to irregular menstrual cycles and osteoporosis. Some research has shown that lysine supplementation may reduce the bone loss associated with osteoporosis.
5. Lysine may Boost Athletic Performance
Lysine is an essential amino acid that can help to improve athletic performance. It has been shown to reduce inflammation, prevent muscle injuries, and increase lean muscle mass.
Research has shown that lysine can help to increase strength, improve running performance, and reduce recovery time after exercise. A study done on cyclists found that those who were given l-lysine (a type of lysine) before or during a cycling workout had less pain post-workout than those who did not take the supplement.
6. Lysine may Help to Build Muscle Mass
Building muscle requires the assembly of multiple amino acids. Lysine is of particular importance to this muscle building process because it is the amino acid that is most often in short supply. Thus, when we lack lysine, we take away a key ingredient that is required to build muscle.
Research has shown that lysine not only contributes to the building of muscle through its contribution as a building block with other amino acids, but it also aids in the activation of satellite cells. Satellite cells are a particular type of cell that is responsible for the muscle tissue's ability to grow and repair. Thus, consuming an adequate volume of lysine can be a helpful addition to an active lifestyle.
7. Lysine may Help to Heal Wounds
If you are recovering from an injury, lysine may be able to help. It is needed for the production of collagen, which is necessary for healing wounds.
Lysine helps to heal wounds by stimulating the growth of new tissue and reducing inflammation. Some studies have shown that taking lysine supplements reduces the healing time of small cuts by up to 25 percent!
In addition, lysine can aid in the prevention of scarring and stretch marks. It speeds up the process of cell division, which can help reduce scarring and stretch marks on your skin.
8. Lysine may Improve Blood Sugar Regulation
Lysine may be a beneficial supplement for individuals who are trying to control their blood sugar levels. Lysine can help your body turn excess glucose into glycogen or fat. This effectively reduces serum glucose concentrations (the amount floating around in circulation). For this reason, lysine may be beneficial for individuals with diabetes, as it helps to regulate blood sugar levels. The blood sugar reducing power of lysine is one of the reasons why we chose to include lysine in each GOOD IDEA drink.
9. Lysine Contains Anti-Inflammatory Properties
While further research is still needed, a recent research study demonstrated the ability for a specific type of lysine, poly-L-lysine, to act as an anti-inflammatory for the lining of the gut. This has the potential future implications as an aid for individuals with leaky gut.
In addition to acting in the gut, lysine also has a neuroprotective effect and serves to reduce the body's inflammatory response.
10. Lysine may Help with Growth and Repair
Every day, our bodies are busy doing work to keep us healthy. From repairing tissues and organs to manufacturing cells, our bodies are constantly hard at work. One of the 20 amino acids that are essential for growth and repair in the body is lysine.
Lysine aids in the growth and repair process by helping to convert fatty acids into energy (through the creation of carnitine). This is important for skin health as well as muscle growth and repair.
What are the Indications of a Lysine Deficiency?
Some common symptoms of lysine deficiency include fatigue, anxiety, hair loss, irritability, and reproductive problems in women. If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, then it may be worth speaking with your healthcare professional about the possibility of lysine supplementation. If you are curious about your lysine levels, a blood test can be used to measure your essential amino acid levels.
How Much Lysine do I Need Daily?
The recommended dosage of lysine depends upon your age and sex. Generally, adults should aim to consume at least 800 mg of lysine per day. This goal can be achieved by eating protein-rich foods, taking supplements, or a combination of the two.
Foods Rich in Lysine
Lysine is an essential amino acid that can be found in many protein-rich foods. Some good sources of lysine include fish, poultry, meat, dairy products like milk and cheese, beans and legumes (like peas and peanuts), seeds like sesame or pumpkin seeds, quinoa sprouts, lentils, spirulina, oats, and nuts such as walnuts or almonds. Lysine is also one of the five amino acids included in each GOOD IDEA beverage.
What will Happen if you Take too Much Lysine?
It's rare to consume too much lysine, as your body will only absorb so much of this amino acid at a time. However, if you do take more than recommended, you may experience some side effects like nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting.
It's also possible to overdose on lysine by taking supplements – so be sure to follow the dosage instructions closely.
Which is Better: Lysine Supplements or Natural Sources of Lysine?
Lysine supplementation is an excellent way to increase your intake of this essential amino acid. However, consuming lysine from natural food sources can be a great way to ingest a variety amino acids, vitamins and minerals simultaneously.
Foods that contain lysine can help improve your health and keep you feeling your best. However, some people do not realize it's possible to get the amounts of this amino acid they need from food sources alone – without having to eat large servings or take supplements.
Certain foods provide a combination of ingredients that can be beneficial to multiple aspects of our health, including: skin problems, blood sugar regulation, inflammation, growth and repair, such as:
- Dairy products like milk and cheese
- Beans and legumes like peas and peanuts
- Seeds like sesame or pumpkin seeds
- Quinoa sprouts
- Nuts such as walnuts and almonds
- GOOD IDEA
The key is making sure these foods are included as part of an overall healthy diet.
Lysine is an essential amino acid that plays a crucial role in growth and repair, energy production, and reducing inflammation. The daily lysine requirement can be met by eating a variety of protein-rich foods or taking a supplement if your diet is deficient. And remember to always consult with your healthcare professional before starting any new supplements.
Author: Amanda Richardson
Updated and edited on 4/17/2023 by: Dr. Colleen Gulick