The short form L-Lysine is lysine which is an essential amino acid. Amino acids are also the building blocks of protein. Also, amino acids like lysine combine to form various essential proteins. These proteins are vital for overall growth and maintenance of the body. Popular L-lysine benefits include cure and prevention of cold sores such as in the case of herpes virus.

Not all amino acid can be produced in our body. Hence one should take the essential amino acids in the form of diet or supplements. There are numerous L-lysine benefits on health such as reduction in anxiety, help in cancer treatment, help in maintaining a healthy gut, reduction of diabetes-related issues, etc.

What is L-lysine?

There are 20 amino acids which are necessary for the creation of protein. Also, it is worth knowing that protein controls possibly all cellular process inside our body and catalyse mostly all cellular reactions.

However, our body can only produce 10 out of 20 amino acids such as aspartic acid, alanine, asparagine, cysteine, glycine, glutamic acid, glutamine, proline, tyrosine and serine. So, it is essential to consume other 10 amino acids from external food sources or supplements.

Lysine is one of those 10 amino acids which has to be obtained from outside foods and supplements. It is often applied externally for cold sores treatment, but for getting the maximum L-lysine benefits, one should consume it via food or supplements.

Lysine is crucial in the creation of carnitine which generates energy from fatty acids. In short, Lysine keeps your body active and fatigue-free. Also, it helps in calcium absorption and supports the growth of bones and tissues.

What are the food sources for l-lysine?

The best dietary source of Lysine is meat, especially red meat. Fishes such as sardines, cod, tuna and shrimps have an abundant quantity of l-lysine. Poultry is also considered a good source of Lysine.

If you are a vegetarian, this amino acid can be incorporated into the diet through legumes, white beans, pumpkin seeds, peas and processed parmesan cheese.

Along with Soybeans, tofu, isolated soy protein, and defatted soybean flour are also an abundant source of lysine. The recommended daily dose for lysine is 30mg per kilogram of body weight, which is easily obtainable.

L-lysine benefits on your health

By now you have an idea of L-lysine benefits on our health. Let’s slice and dice all benefits of lysine in detail.

1. Helps in the production of carnitine

L-lysine plays a critical role in the production of Carnitine, the compound which aids in the breakdown of fats to release energy (1). It helps in the transportation of long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria so that they can be oxidized for the production of energy.

Carnitine is concentrated in skeletal tissue and cardiac muscle. They utilise fatty acids as energy sources. Carnitine produced by l-lysine also helps in regulation of cholesterol levels in the body.

Several athletes have started taking l-lysine supplements to enhance their performance and stay in shape.

2. Treats cold sores or Herpes virus

Herpes simplex virus is the offending cause of cold sores. It affects more than 67% of the population under the age of 50years.

The recurrence rate of cold sores is reasonably high and is directly related to the immunity of that individual. Arginine, another type of protein found in a body, have shown to promote the replication rate of herpesvirus cells.

Lysine works against the arginine protein, and hence it helps control the growth and replication rate of herpes simplex virus.

L-lysine, when used in conjunction with zinc and applied topically, helps treat the cold sores under two weeks time (2). It also helps in decreasing the recurrence rate and frequency of outbreaks.

3. Lysine reduces anxiety and stress

L-lysine acts as a serotonin receptor antagonist. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mode, sleep, appetite and social behaviour. L-lysine binds serotonin receptors which help in treating anxiety in the individual.

Some studies have been conducted which shows a calming effect of l-lysine in anxiety seen in schizophrenia patients.

4. Controls blood sugar levels

L-lysine helps the body manage and regulate blood sugar levels. In conjunction to that, it protects diabetic individuals from increased risk of infection.

Advanced glycation end products (AGEP) is a part of the ageing process of our body (3). As we grow old, the AGEP level increases in our body which irrevocably lowers our immune response, making our body vulnerable to infections.

In diabetics, the AGEP levels are very high making them immuno-compromised. L-lysine in people with diabetes prevents the formation of AGEP, thus protecting them from opportunistic infections.

Hence a diabetic diet is recommended to contain a high amount of lysine-rich food.

5. Increased absorption of Calcium

L-lysine helps in increasing the calcium absorption from our body. Calcium is essential for overall maintenance of health. Not only it strengthens bones but also helps in maintaining optimal dental, nerve and muscle health.

Premenstrual symptom reduction, cancer prevention are also some of its added benefits.

L-lysine decreases the chances of bone breakage in individuals falling in high-risk groups such as osteoporosis patients. It is a beneficial nutrient supplement for brittle bone.

Athletes consume this l-lysine supplements to increase the absorption of calcium in their body.

6. Lysine can help you in maintaining a healthy intestine

L-lysine has many anti-inflammatory benefits, and it helps strengthen the lining of our intestine. The anti-inflammatory properties of l-lysine also prevent the occurrence of pancreatitis.

The leaky gut syndrome is a condition in which our intestines are not able to filter all the constituents that seek entry into our bloodstream. This causes allergic reactions, joint pain, autoimmune diseases, thyroid disease and lowers the energy levels of the body.

As it strengthens the gut lining, l-lysine decreases the problems related to the leaky gut syndrome. L-lysine also helps reduce stress-induced gut responses like diarrhoea (4).

7. Treatment of cancer

Although direct evidence has not been linked to l-lysin in cancer treatment, many studies have put forward a hypothesis in its support. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy destroys the cancer cells, but at the same time, it also harms the healthy cells of the body.

In 2014, a lysine oxidase was tested against instances of colorectal cancer in mice (5). In this study, the injection of lysine oxidase was associated with zero death in mice. Evidence of shrunk solid tumours in significant amounts was also seen.

This study signified l-lysine to be a promising form of cancer treatment for colorectal cancer in the future.

Natural food sources for maximising L-lysine benefits (6)

  • Lean beef & Lamb – 3582mg per 100 gram (171% RDI)
  • Cheese – 3306mg per 100 gram (157% RDI)
  • Turkey & Chicken – 3110mg per 100 gram (148% RDI)
  • Pork – 2757mg per 100 gram (131% RDI)
  • Soya foods – 2634mg per 100 gram (125% RDI)
  • Tuna Fish – 2590mg per 100 gram (123% RDI)
  • Seafood like shrimp – 2172mg per 100 gram (103% RDI)
  • Nuts & seeds – 1386mg per 100 gram (66% RDI)
  • Eggs – 912mg per 100 gram (43% RDI)
  • Pulses such as white beans – 668mg per 100 gram (32% RDI)

Cautions while taking l-lysine supplements

Lysine is an essential amino acid whose metabolism is through kidney and liver. People who have a pre-existing liver and kidney disease, or people undergoing kidney transplants should abstain from l-lysine supplements.

Not many studies have been conducted on the effect of lysine on pregnant women and nursing mothers. Hence, they should avoid lysine supplements.

HIV positive patients have a severe contraindication for lysine use as it can increase the viral load. Minor side effects associated with l-lysine supplements can be nausea, stomach pain and diarrhoea.

People suffering from osteoporosis must avoid lysine with additional calcium supplements as it might increase calcium absorption in the body.

Final words on L-lysine benefits

By now we know that how L-lysine benefits our health in several ways. It is an essential amino acid which aids in your body growth and helps in fighting several diseases like herpes, cancer, diabetes, anxiety issues, etc.

There are many dietary supplements including organic foods are available which are high in lysine content. Also, it is essential to exercise caution in taking Llysine if you are suffering from specific ailments such as bone disease, HIV, kidney and liver problems. Always consult a medical practitioner when in doubt.