Lysine and Your Health. Week 93 Tip

By: Carla Meine CFNC

| October 9, 2023

Welcome to More Than Healthy as we continue to share our weekly health tips. Today we’re talking about Tip #93, the health benefits of the right amount of lysine. To watch our weekly Video Tip, click this link. To listen to the audio podcast, click on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

I first learned the importance of having enough lysine when I struggled with cold sores years ago. Someone suggested that I take lysine when I first started to feel them coming on, and they would go away without leaving big sores in my mouth. The first time I tried that, it worked like a charm. I was so grateful not to deal with that big, painful sore!

Since then, I have learned which foods provide my body with the right amount of lysine. I’m happy I haven’t had a cold sore in over 10 years.

What is lysine?

Lysine is another of the 9 essential amino acids. This means it’s important to our health, but our bodies can’t make it, so we need to get it from the foods we eat or supplementation.  We’ve already talked about amino acids and their role in building protein. (See our blog posts on tryptophan or leucine.)  

In addition to building protein, lysine also produces carnitine, a nutrient responsible for converting fatty acids into energy and helping lower cholesterol. Lysine also appears to help the body absorb calcium, which plays an important role in collagen formation.  Collagen is a substance that is important for bones and connective tissues, including skin, tendons, and cartilage.

Lysine and cold sores

As I’ve already shared, my personal favorite benefit of lysine is that it helps prevent painful cold sores. According to research, lysine helps prevent HSV-1, the herpes simplex virus that causes cold sores, from replicating. It also helps block another amino acid, arginine, which viruses require to multiply.

Lysine and bone health

Lysine helps protect bones and may also control where calcium is transported in the body. If I have clients who are struggling with high blood pressure or osteoporosis, I’m always checking their hair analysis to see if they are low in lysine.  

Studies have been done with individuals with osteoporosis that show when given 3 g of calcium alone; they had a progressive increase in calcium in their urine. Or, in other words, a loss of calcium through normal body processes. However, those who received 400 mg of lysine with the calcium lost less calcium through their urine.  

This means that lysine helps your body hold on to calcium. Studies also show that it specifically helps calcium absorption in the gut. 

Lysine and anxiety

Lysine may also help reduce anxiety because it blocks receptors involved in stress responses. In a study of 50 people supplementing with 2.64 g of lysine and arginine, stress-induced anxiety was reduced after just one week. They were able to gauge this by measuring the stress hormone cortisol.  

Similarly, another study found that adding 4.2 g of lysine to 2.2 lbs of wheat flour in villages in Syria helped reduce anxiety scores in males with very high stress levels. After 3 months of consuming the lysine-enriched flour, the women’s cortisol levels also decreased.

What are the signs of low lysine levels?

Most people get enough lysine in their diet. However, some groups are prone to low lysine levels, including athletes, burn patients and vegans. 

If you are low on lysine, you may experience some of the following symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Agitation
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Slow growth
  • Anemia
  • Reproductive disorders 

How can I get more lysine in my diet?

You know that at More Than Healthy, we strongly advocate getting our vitamins and nutrients through whole foods. So you’re probably thinking, what foods should I eat to get more lysine in my diet naturally? Some of the best sources of lysine include:

  • Meat, specifically red meat 
  • Pork 
  • Poultry 
  • Cheese, especially parmesan and ricotta 
  • Fish like cod, sardines, tuna, and king crab 
  • Eggs
  • Tofu  
  • Soybeans  
  • Milk  
  • Spirulina 
  • Fenugreek seeds 
  • Canned navy beans 
  • Peas

 

We enjoy most of these foods, so getting the right amount of lysine from the healthy foods we eat has been fairly easy.  

Lysine supplements

Perhaps you can’t tolerate some of the foods that are high in lysine. Or maybe you eat those foods, but your hair analysis says you are still low on lysine. If that’s the case, we recommend supplementing with Kion Aminos. This supplement provides a boost of lysine as well as each of the other eight essential amino acids. 

Lysine and your health journey

Do you have any questions about lysine or any other health topic? We’d love to become your health coaches as you work to become “more than healthy” and achieve optimal health. Thanks for joining us, and we’ll see you next week.

 

Note: Remember, we’re not doctors. We’re sharing what’s worked for us on our health journey. You will want to consult your doctor before significantly changing your diet and supplementation.

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