L-Lysine - Benefits and UsesL-Lysine, or lysine, is an important essential amino acid needed by the human body for tissue repair and growth. The body does not produce l-lysine; people can only obtain it from dietary or supplemental sources. It plays a central role in the production of antibodies, hormones and collagen. Some foods that include this essential amino acid are cheese, certain fish, fenugreek seed, eggs, soybeans and nuts.
As a building block of protein, l-lysine benefits the body by contributing to growth. L-lysine benefits also include production of carnitine, a substance that converts fatty acids into energy and lowers levels of LDL (“bad cholesterol”) in the bloodstream. Amino acids like lysine are the building blocks of protein. Lysine is important for proper growth, and it plays an essential role in the production of carnitine, a nutrient responsible for converting fatty acids into energy and helping to lower cholesterol. Lysine appears to help the body absorb calcium, and it plays an important role in the formation of collagen, a substance important for bones and connective tissues including skin, tendon, and cartilage.
L-lysine is an important and indispensable component of proteins. As previously mentioned, it plays a role in the production of carnitine and collagen. Its benefits include:
Growth and Metabolism
Lysine is important for proper growth, and the body needs lysine to manufacture another amino acid known as l-carnitine, as explained by the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). Carnitine is mainly synthesized by the liver, and it metabolizes fats, converting fat into energy.
L-lysine stimulates production of cholesterol in the liver, as noted by the nutrition notebook at the Springboard website. Cholesterol is a vital substance in the body, essential for maintaining cell membrane structure and integrity, and for hormone production. Nevertheless, too much cholesterol can lead to accumulation of plaque build-up in the arteries, which can result in stroke or heart attack. The UMMC notes that high doses of lysine supplements can raise cholesterol levels. People taking lysine supplements may need to have their cholesterol checked periodically to make sure the level is in a healthy range.
L-lysine is important for bone health. It helps the body absorb calcium and reduces the amount of calcium removed through urination, according to the UMMC. Because of its role in maintaining calcium in the body, lysine may help prevent bone loss associated with osteoporosis. The UMMC notes that laboratory research indicates l-lysine combined with the amino acid l-arginine stimulates activity of bone-building cells and enhances production of collagen. Collagen is important for the health of bones, skin, tendons and cartilage.
Herpes Outbreak Prevention
Although research is conflicting, some studies have found benefits of taking lysine supplements for conditions caused by the herpes simplex virus, according to the UMMC. Taking lysine supplements regularly may help prevent outbreaks of cold sores (fever blisters) and genital herpes. Some people take lysine supplements to help treat eruptions of shingles, a painful rash caused by the herpes varicella-zoster virus, as noted by the University of Michigan Health Center, although there is little research supporting this use.
Other L-Lysine Benefits
• Promotes normal growth and development by increasing collagen formation
• Supports the production of other proteins like enzymes, antibodies and hormones
• Promotes bone health by increasing calcium absorption; prevents osteoporosis or weak bones by reducing bone loss
• Helps convert fatty acids to energy, aiding in weight reduction
• Promotes skin health through increased collagen formation
• May be used to treat viral infections like herpes simplex, cold sores, shingles,human papilloma virus (HPV) infection such as genital warts, and genital herpes
• Can relieve migraines and other types of pain and inflammation
• When taken with other nutrients like vitamin C, it can reduce chest pains (angina) related to heart disease
• Helps in muscle building, when taken with other amino acids like arginine
Sources Of L-Lysine
• The food sources highest in l-lysine include red meat, nuts, sardines, eggs, cheese, beans and milk. Most people get an adequate intake of this amino acid by eating high protein foods. However, certain individuals like vegetarians, bodybuilders or athletes may be at risk for l-lysine deficiency and may require dietary supplements.
• Other sources of l-lysine include supplements sold in health food stores. These are available in a variety of forms such as capsules, tablets and liquid.
• When there is an inadequate intake of protein through the diet, people can experience certain signs of l-lysine deficiency. Some of these symptoms are anemia, nausea, fatigue, stunted growth and appetite loss. In these cases, l-lysine supplementation may be necessary. Deficiencies can also cause kidney stones.
• People taking high doses of l-arginine, another important amino acid, may also have lower levels of l-lysine.
Symptoms of Lysine Deficiency
When one does not consume enough lysine rich foods, a lysine deficiency may develop. The symptoms of lysine deficiency are as follows:
• Hair Loss
• Appetite Loss
• Inability to concentrate
• Fatigue and lethargy
• Bloodshot eyes
• Kidney stone formation
• Reproductive disorders
• Stunted growth
Contraindications and Precautions Of L-Lysine
• L-lysine is not FDA approved for treatment of any medical conditions. Before taking l-lysine supplements, people should consult a doctor for its proper use. Dosage amounts may depend upon the condition being treated.
• Pregnant or breastfeeding women should speak to a health practitioner before using this supplement. Likewise, people who take antibiotics like neomycin or streptomycin should not take this supplement without a doctor's recommendation.
• People who suffer from kidney or liver problems should not take l-lysine.
Too much Lysine in the body can cause problems also. Excessive use of lysine can cause cramps, nausea, and diarrhea. Extremely high levels of lysine can increase cholesterol and triglycerides in the bloodstream.
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