L- lysine is a crucial building block of protein. It also appears to have the ability to effectively fight off cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), combat the signs of aging, clear up acne, reduce hair loss, alleviate anxiety, support a healthy gut, reduce diabetes-related problems, increase the body’s ability to absorb calcium, and may even help fight off certain cancers.
What is L-lysine?
An essential amino acid, L-lysine, is a crucial building block of protein, which body requires for many functions. Nature is filled with several hundred amino acids but only about 20 build protein. Out of those 20, the body naturally produces ten. The ten that the body cannot naturally produce are considered ‘essential’ amino acids. The body can only receive them through consuming a food source or taking a supplement.
The essential amino acids exist in two variations which means they are stereoisomers. The two variations mirror each other. These are known as D and L forms of amino acids. The L-form is what the body uses for protein synthesis. It occurs in foods and supplements. Most people refer to this form as lysine or L-lysine.
Amino Acid Deficiency and Your Body
If a body does not collect the necessary ten amino acids, it will start to suffer from an amino acid deficiency. An amino acid deficiency is severe and causes the degradation of internal cells within the body. The deterioration will eventually lead to serious health problems. In developed countries, amino acid deficiencies are rare, but they do happen. Deficiencies are naturally preventable by eating foods that are rich in essential acids or by taking supplements. Foods rich in amino acids include eggs, meat, beans, and cheeses. Yes, you can take a supplement instead of eating essential foods, but as with anything that the body naturally requires, it more readily absorbs the substance when ingested as a natural food source then when taken in supplement form.
Symptoms of an amino acid deficiency include:
- Stunted growth
- Loss of appetite
- Reproductive disorders
Carnitine and the Body
L-lysine helps create carnitine which the body requires to convert fatty acids into energy successfully. It also lowers the cholesterol levels. Ultimately, it plays a critical role in the body’s absorption of calcium. Calcium helps the body build collagen which is essential for the growth and maintenance of bones plus skin. Collagen in the skin provides a younger, firmer appearance by smoothing out wrinkles and erasing lines.
L-Lysine Health Benefits
Lysine is believed to benefit the body in a variety of ways.
Herpes Simplex (HPV) Virus
Approximately 67 million people under the age of 50 are infected with the virus that causes cold sores or genital lesions.
Herpes Simplex 1:Oral cold sores occur as a result of the herpes simplex-1 virus, which is also known as HSV-1. L-lysine appears to prevent cold sores and shorten the duration of an existing outbreak by blocking the activity of arginine. Arginine is another amino acid that is known to support the herpes virus. It increases the virus’s ability to replicate at an accelerated rate. Lysine naturally hinders arginines ability to reproduce.
Herpes Simplex-2: Herpes simplex-2, commonly called HSV-2 is the virus that causes genital herpes. As many as 85 percents of carriers are entirely unaware they even suffer from HSV-2. Lysine appears to lessen the severity of HSV-2. However, it is unlikely to stop outbreaks completely, but it may reduce their frequency.
Reduces Herpes Breakouts and Severity
Researchers at the Department of Medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, Indiana undertook a double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial of oral L-lysine monohydrochloride to see if the amino acid would reduce the severity of HSV-1 and HSV-2 breakouts. At the end of the study, the researchers found that it did significantly reduce the severity and duration of outbreaks.
Topicals Clear Up Herpes Breakouts Fast
The Southern California University of Health Science studied a cream and herbal combination of lysine as a topical application for cold sources to reduce the duration of the outbreak. The herpes sores started to clear six days after using the cream. The length of the explosions ended up being dramatically reduced.
Stress and Anxiety
The National Academy of Sciences revealed the findings of a broad scale research project that studied the relationship between lysine and anxiety in a Syrian refugee camp. The double-blind study showed that lysine significantly reduced stress in males.
Lysine damages the DNA and cells of malignant cancers. It appears to cause the cells to tear apart. Once the cancer cell is damaged, it is unable to repair itself. For the lysine to effectively hurt the malignant cells, it requires activation by specific forms of light. This research is exciting because it allows researchers to place the lysine directly into cancer cells and enable it to do the most damage.
Another cancer fighting area where the amino acid L-lysine is proving effective is by inhibiting the invasion of healthy tissue by cancerous cells, according to Aminostudies.org. The essential amino acid is extremely effective when combined with Vitamin C.
The Federal State Budgetary Institution, N.N. Blokhin Russian Cancer Research Center, and Russian Academy of Medical Sciences in Moscow, Russia has been testing a specific strain known as L-lysine α-oxidase (LO) at treating colorectal cancers. In trials, it appears to shrink solid tumors upon injection.
Benefits for Diabetes Sufferers
The risk of diabetes complications remains a severe threat to all diabetes sufferers. Lysine appears to reduce the structure and function of glycated lysozyme which lowers the risk of diabetes-related complications developing, according to the Journal of Acta Medica Iranica.
Osteoporosis and Physical Performance
Osteoporosis causes bone degeneration in the aging population which puts them more at risk of sustaining a life-altering fracture. Post-menopausal women are a significant risk of developing the bone density problem. L-lysine plays a vital role in the body’s ability to absorb calcium which reduces the risk and damage from osteoporosis.
A diet rich in calcium increases an athlete’s performance ability. It is not uncommon for athletes to take protein powders that are high in L-lysine to improve their body’s ability to utilize the calcium they are consuming.
Poly-L-lysine appears to reduce inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract and the pancreas. Overall, it may prove promising in improving the lining of the digestive tract which can lead to dramatic health and life changes.
Collagen is the main protein that makes up your skin and other connective tissues. In youth, it remains plump and readily regenerates but as you age it loses its plumpness and regenerative power. Collagen breakdown is the reason why you start to develop wrinkles, and your skin takes on a saggy appearance. Repair of the body’s collagen provides smoother, younger-looking skin. Scarring, such as scars from acne, also appear smoother the increased collagen production beneath the skin’s surface.
Hair Health and Loss Reduction
L-lysine is a crucial player in the development of protein called keratin. Maintaining a healthy supply of the amino acid in the body helps hair to grow and remain healthy. It may also prevent hair loss from occurring.
Correct Dosage of L-lysine
Ideally, you should get all of your amino acids from consuming a balanced and nutritious diet. However, some people cannot seem to maintain their consumption of balanced foods in such a way so they may lack specific proteins.
When taking L-lysine to treat HSV-1 or HSV-2, you must consume 3 grams per day. You can also use the topical form. Apply it every two hours over the course of 11 days to the lesion.
A variety of protein shakes and supplements are available that are also an option. However, when taking such items, you should always follow the directions on the label and never overdo the consumption ratio. Remember, that more is not always better.
Always immediately stop taking the supplement if you experience any adverse side effects.
Here are a few side effects that may occur with over-consumption:
- Renal dysfunction
- Abdominal pain
Caution for those Suffering from HIV/AIDS
L-lysine has been shown to increase the viral load in HIV/AIDS sufferers. Such individuals are advised not to take any form of lysine supplements without first discussing it with their physician.
Foods High in L-lysine
Increasing your protein consumption is also going to raise your body’s level of L-lysine naturally. However, always be careful when consuming a diet that is high in protein because it can cause you to gain unwanted weight, increase your cholesterol levels, and lead to heart disease or stroke. You should always discuss your health concerns with your physician before making any dietary changes to improve your health.
Here are just a few foods that are very high in L-lysine:
- Lean beef
- Lean lamb
- All white beans
- Parmesan cheese
- Roasted soybeans
- Pumpkin and squash seeds
The health benefits and discoveries made that involve L-lysine are exciting and hold great promise for future treatments as researchers and physicians gain a greater understanding of how the body uses the protein. Undoubtedly, more research is needed but so far it is generally accepted that consumption of L-lysine is a healthy option when obtained from foods and in supplement form.