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Lysine: Health Benefits, Food Sources And Risks

Lysine is one of the essential amino acids that play an integral role in supporting the immune system. The body uses lysine to create collagen, the main structural protein in the skin.

As the human body cannot produce lysine, it is crucial to obtain this amino acid through the diet. Consumption of lysine-rich foods helps reduce the symptoms of anxiety, lower blood pressure, fight herpes virus and diabetes.

Health Benefits Of Lysine

1. Treats diabetes

A study published in The Journal of Nutrition showed that lysine can help treat diabetes by decreasing blood glucose levels after eating [1] . However, further research has to be done on the topic.

2. Reduces anxiety

Lysine can lower anxiety by blocking receptors involved in stress response [2] . Another study conducted on 50 healthy people showed that, 2.64 g of lysine supplements and arginine reduced stress-induced anxiety caused by the stress hormone cortisol [3] .

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3. Lowers blood pressure

In a study conducted in 50 adults with lysine deficiency and high blood pressure, it was seen that lysine supplements lowered blood pressure significantly [4] .

4. Treats cold sores

Cold sores are fluid-filled blisters that cause pain and burning sensation. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Lysine supplements prevent herpes simplex virus from increasing and lowers the duration of cold sores [5] .

5. Promotes wound healing

Lysine can help in faster wound recovery [6] . This amino acid aids in the formation of collagen, a protein that helps support and gives structure to skin and bones and also increases the number of new cells in a wound, thus speeding up the wound repairing process.

6. Improves calcium absorption

Lysine helps the body absorb calcium in your gut and allows the kidneys to hold on to the mineral [7] . Lysine also can prevent bone loss and plays an important role in transporting calcium to various parts of the body.

Other benefits of lysine

  • Treats shingles
  • Prevents the loss of lean muscle mass and mobility issues in older adults
  • Reduces the growth of cancer cells
  • Promotes eye health
  • Enhances healthy growth of skin
  • Supports hair growth
  • Prevents plaque build-up in arteries
  • Builds muscles

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Foods Rich In Lysine

Food sources (100 g) Amount of lysine (mg)
Cottage cheese 934 mg
Beef 329 mg
Chicken 1509 mg
Eggs 951mg
Atlantic salmon 1870 mg
Goat milk 290 mg
Kidney beans 1618 mg
Chickpeas 1291 mg

Side Effects And Risks Of Lysine Consumption

A daily dose of 3 g of lysine is considered safe and increasing the dosage to 10 to 15 g a day might result in diarrhoea, stomach cramps and nausea.

Children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid lysine supplements. People with kidney and liver problems should also avoid lysine supplements.

View Article References
  1. [1] Ullrich, S. S., Fitzgerald, P. C., Nkamba, I., Steinert, R. E., Horowitz, M., & Feinle-Bisset, C. (2017). Intragastric lysine lowers the circulating glucose and insulin responses to a mixed-nutrient drink without slowing gastric emptying in healthy adults.The Journal of nutrition,147(7), 1275-1281.
  2. [2] Smriga, M., & Torii, K. (2003). L-Lysine acts like a partial serotonin receptor 4 antagonist and inhibits serotonin-mediated intestinal pathologies and anxiety in rats.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America,100(26), 15370–15375.
  3. [3] Smriga, M., Ando, T., Akutsu, M., Furukawa, Y., Miwa, K., & Morinaga, Y. (2007). Oral treatment with L-lysine and L-arginine reduces anxiety and basal cortisol levels in healthy humans.Biomedical Research,28(2), 85-90.
  4. [4] Vuvor, F., Mohammed, H., Ndanu, T., & Harrison, O. (2017). Effect of lysine supplementation on hypertensive men and women in selected peri-urban community in Ghana.BMC Nutrition,3(1), 67.
  5. [5] Singh, B. B., Udani, J., Vinjamury, S. P., Der-Martirosian, C., Gandhi, S., Khorsan, R., ... & Singh, V. (2005). Safety and effectiveness of an L-lysine, zinc, and herbal-based product on the treatment of facial and circumoral herpes.Altern Med Rev,10(2), 123-7.
  6. [6] Spallotta, F., Cencioni, C., Straino, S., Sbardella, G., Castellano, S., Capogrossi, M. C., … Gaetano, C. (2013). Enhancement of lysine acetylation accelerates wound repair.Communicative & integrative biology,6(5), e25466.
  7. [7] Civitelli, R., Villareal, D. T., Agnusdei, D., Nardi, P., Avioli, L. V., & Gennari, C. (1992). Dietary L-lysine and calcium metabolism in humans.Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.),8(6), 400-405.
Story first published: Tuesday, September 10, 2019, 15:00 [IST]