Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. These compounds play important roles in the body, including the creation of hormones, proteins, and neurotransmitters. Your body requires 20 different amino acids to function properly, though only nine are considered essential.
One of these amino acids, lysine, plays a role in growth and muscle turnover.
What exactly is lysine, and what are the health benefits of lysine supplementation? Read on to find out!
What is lysine?
First, let’s answer the question you’re likely asking yourself: what is lysine?
Lysine is an amino acid your body can’t make on its own. As a result, you’ll need to obtain lysine from the foods you eat or supplements you take.
This amino acid plays a role in ensuring normal growth and muscle turnover. It’s used to form carnitine; an important substance found in most cells in the body. Lysine also helps transport fats across cells to be burned as energy.
Your body needs lysine to:
- Absorb calcium, iron, and zinc
- Promote collagen growth
- Support your immune system
- Produce hormones, enzymes, and antibodies
Without enough lysine in your diet, you could experience symptoms like:
- Red eyes
- Hair loss
- Poor concentration
- Inhibited growth
If these symptoms sound familiar, consider looking into nutritional testing this year. Nutritional testing will help you determine if you have any vitamin deficiencies. Then, you can determine if you need to add lysine supplements or food sources to your routine.
Lysine is primarily found in meat and dairy products, though it’s also available in legumes and wheat germ. Other foods that contain lysine include:
- Red meat
- Brewer’s yeast
- Wheat germ
- Cottage cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- Fish like cod or sardines
If you can’t receive enough lysine through your diet, consider consuming daily supplements instead.
Lysine helps your body grow tissue and recover from damage. However, research indicates that lysine supplements might help:
- Prevent plaque buildup in arteries
- Support hair growth
- Build muscle in bodybuilders
- Treat shingles
- Moderate blood pressure
- Promote the healthy growth of skin
- Prevent bone loss and osteoporosis
- Relieve anxiety
- Prevent the loss of lean muscle mass and mobility
- Help athletes recover from intense workouts
More research is needed to fully understand how lysine benefits our health and daily routines. Here are a few health benefits you could experience by adding lysine to your diet.
Lysine could help block receptors involved in the body’s stress response.
In one study, rats given lysine had reduced rates of stress-induced bowel movements. In a human study, people taking lysine supplements had lower stress-induced anxiety levels. Their levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, decreased as well.
High cortisol levels can affect your mental and physical well-being, causing:
- Difficulty concentrating
- High blood pressure
- Easy bruising
- Muscle weakness
- Slowed healing
- Thinning skin
- Weight gain
- Flushed face
When unmanaged, chronic stress can increase your risk of osteoporosis, psychiatric disorders, insulin resistance, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
If you’re struggling with stress and anxiety, consider checking your lysine levels.
Protect against cold sores
Fever blisters and cold sores are both symptoms of an infection. They usually appear on the corners of the mouth or on the lips. Cold sores can appear as fluid-filled blisters as well.
In addition to making you feel self-conscious about your appearance, cold cores can also cause pain, burning, and tingling.
The herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), which hides in the spine, can cause cold sores as well. When the immune system is weakened or you experience stress, HSV-1 can trigger cold sore development.
Lysine supplements might keep HSV-1 from replicating. As a result, you could reduce how long a cold sore appears. Lysine might block another amino acid, arginine, which HSV-1 requires to multiply.
When a person’s blood lysine measure is above 165 nmol/l, cold sore breakouts are reduced. When levels are lower than 165 nmol/l, the chance of a cold sore breakout increases.
Improve calcium absorption
Lysine might help your body absorb and hold onto calcium, too.
Lysine could increase calcium absorption in the gut. At the same time, it could help your kidneys hold onto the mineral for later use. It might also help protect your bones while controlling where the body transports lysine for use.
Cells that grow without lysine have an increased movement of calcium out of the cell.
Lysine might help your body heal from wounds and injuries.
Lysine becomes more active at the sight of a wound. It’s therefore able to speed up the healing process. Your body also requires lysine to form collagen; a protein that provides your skin and bone with needed support.
Lysine acts as a binding agent, increasing the number of new cells around a wound. It could help promote the formation of new blood cells, too.
The process of wound healing requires different vitamins and minerals. Without lysine, wound healing is impaired. Combining amino acids lysine and arginine could speed up and improve the healing process of fractures.
This small study suggests that lysine might slow the rise in blood glucose levels after meals. The discovery could benefit treatments for patients with diabetes. However, we need more research to fully understand how lysine benefits blood glucose levels.
Experience the Health Benefits of Lysine Supplementation Today
Without enough lysine, you could experience nausea, hair loss, anaemia, and other health issues. Before that happens, consider supplementing your routine with lysine. Getting the recommended daily allowance will allow you to experience the health benefits of lysine and more.
Not sure if you’re getting enough lysine? We can help.
Request our Optimal Nutrition Test today to ensure you’re receiving the optimal micronutrient intake.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.