Lysine is one of the essential amino acids of our body, as it is responsible for providing the body with the proteins it needs to grow. It also helps the body keep nitrogen levels balanced. It also plays an important role in the regulation of cholesterol, and in the production of calcium and collagen.

Lysine is involved in the production of enzymes, hormones and antibodies that can inhibit some infections caused by viruses. It is particularly useful for the treatment of cold sores caused by simple herpes type 1 virus. It is also recommended as a natural remedy to treat other health problems, such as genital herpes and zoster herpes.

What is lysine?

Lysine is an amino acid found in the proteins of some foods, such as beans, cheese, yoghurt, meat, milk, wheat germ and other proteins of animal origin.

It is an essential amino acid for humans, as the body cannot produce it by itself. Therefore, it must be ingested in the body through food or by taking dietary supplements. A person with a normal body weight of 70 kg needs to take between 800 to 3000mg of lysine a day.

Clinical studies have shown that eating lysine regularly helps prevent outbreaks of labial and genital herpes.

The antiviral effect of lysine has proven to be effective in the reduction of arginine, that encourages the reproduction of the simple herpes virus.

Foods that contain Lysine

Since the body cannot produce lysine by itself, it belongs to the essential amino acids group and must be provided to the organism through foods rich in protein, including meat (especially red meat, pork and poultry), cheese (particularly parmesan), certain types of fish (such as cod and sardines) nuts, eggs, soy, beans, legumes and dairy products.

The health benefits of lysine

Adding a supplement based on this amino acid to the diet has many health benefits, including:

  • Prevention of osteoporosis
  • Treatment and prevention of mouth ulcers
  • It improves the functioning of the immune system
  • It reduces anxiety and nervousness

Lysine properties

Lysine and herpes

Outbreaks of herpes are painful, unsightly and contagious. Between 60 and 90 per cent of the population has the herpes simplex 1 virus. The cause of cold sores is mainly due to an infection suffered during childhood.

The herpes simplex type 2 is the usual cause of genital herpes. However, it can also cause an outbreak in the mouth area.

Lysine can help prevent herpes infections from spreading. Clinical studies have shown that lysine treatment is very positive for herpes sufferers.

The onset of the infection can be prevented by taking a dose of lysine, and by increasing the amount if the infection re-appears.

Lysine and collagen

Among the multiple properties of lysine, is its role in promoting the growth and maintenance of connective tissues. Collagen gives structure to the cells and keep them in perfect condition. Lysine, proline and vitamin C help with the formation of collagen and prevent its deterioration by blocking harmful enzymes.

Lysine and the immune system

Lysine plays a very important role in the optimal functioning of the immune system. A deficiency of this basic amino acid produces a deterioration of the immune system.

For this reason an appropriate supplementation of lysine is very important for health. However, the body cannot produce this amino acid by itself, so it must be provided through food or by taking dietary supplements.

Many foods contain lysine. But in the case of persons who suffer allergies to certain foods or are on a vegan or a vegetarian diet, it is better to take lysine supplements. The immune system is further reinforced if lysine supplements are taken at the same time as arginine.

Lysine and osteoporosis

Lysine promotes the absorption of calcium by the body and reduces the amount that is lost through urine. Clinical studies with animals have shown that dietary supplements increase the absorption of calcium in the body and this gives additional protection against bone loss.

Calcium is essential for the formation of the bones. As a result, researchers believe that lysine helps prevent bone loss associated with osteoporosis. However, this study of osteoporosis treatment has not yet been confirmed for human beings.

Who can benefit from lysine dietary supplements?

Lysine has several known positive effects and adding it to the diet can be particularly helpful in the following cases:

  • For the treatment of metabolic disorders
  • In cases of lysine deficiency
  • To increase the levels of calcium in the body
  • To increase the physical performance of athletes and sportspeople
  • As a pain reliever
  • To reduce anxiety and stress

Lysine, interactions and combinations

There may be interactions when taken along with large amounts of arginine, since both amino acids share the same transport system in the body.

In this case, too high a dose of arginine in the diet can cause a decrease in lysine levels. If this happens one should discontinue the administration of arginine.

Lysine dosage recommendation

In the case of adults and children over 13 years of age, the recommended dosage is 12 mg per kg of body weight per day. An example of the dose prescribed during an active herpes outbreak is between 3000-9000 mg daily, divided into several individual doses throughout the day.

To prevent a new outbreak many people take 1000 mg a day.

However, consulting your doctor regarding the adequate amount of lysine in the diet in each individual case is advisable.

Lysine dietary supplements are available in different forms (l-lysine or lysine) and formats (pills, tablets, creams, or in liquid form).

Why should you take lysine supplements?

  • Lysine is an essential amino acid which cannot be generated by the body and must be provided through the diet or by taking supplements.
  • Studies have shown that taking lysine regularly helps prevent herpes outbreaks.
  • Lysine is very important for growth.
  • Lysine also plays an important role in the production of carnitine. Carnitine is a nutrient which is transformed into energy, along with fatty acids. Lysine also helps reduce cholesterol levels.