What is lysine? Why do we need it?
Lysine is an essential amino acid. It is different from other
amino acids in that it contains two amino groups, which can
react with other substances to create chemical compounds.
Although the body does manufacture some lysine, it doesnt
produce an adequate supply, so it must be obtained through
a proper diet.
Lysine provides the structural components for the synthesis
of carnitine, which promotes the synthesis of fatty acids.
It plays an important role in the development of a persons
growth by regulating the absorption of calcium, and also plays
a role in the formation of collagen.
Lysine supplements are used to treat herpes infections; studies
have found that lysine can increase the speed of recovery
and prevent future infections from occurring. Some studies
have shown that lysine may be helpful in treating cardiovascular
disease, osteoporosis, asthma, migraines, and nasal polyps.
How much lysine should I take?
According to the National Research Council, the following
doses of lysine are recommended:
Children 0-4 months: 103 milligrams per kilogram of body
weight per day
Children 5-24 months: 69 milligrams per kilogram of body
weight per day
Children 3-12 years: 44 milligrams per kilogram of body weight
Teenagers and adults: 12 milligrams per kilogram of body
weight per day
Independent studies suggest that adults may need as much
as 30 milligrams of lysine per kilogram of body weight per
What are some good sources of lysine?
Good sources of lysine include meat (particularly red meat),
cheese, poultry, sardines, nuts, eggs and soybeans. Other
sources include torula yeast, dried and salted cod, pork loin,
tofu, parsley, soybean flour, and dried spirulina seaweed.
What can happen if I don't get enough
In children, a lysine deficiency can lead to stunted growth;
in adults, it can lead to kidney stones. A general lack of
lysine in the diet can also lead to fatigue, nausea, dizziness,
loss of appetite, decreased immunity, anemia, pneumonia, acidosis,
and bloodshot eyes.
What can happen if I take too much?
Although lysine is considered non-toxic, it may be linked
with an increase in blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
If you have cardiovascular disease or problems with blood
cholesterol and/or triglycerides, make sure to talk with your
health care provider before taking lysine supplements.
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Robson JRK. Foods & Nutrition Encyclopedia, 2nd
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and toxicology of lysine. J Am Coll Nutr 1997;16:721.
- Hugues FC, Lacoste JP, Danchot J, Joire
JE. Repeated doses of combined oral lysine acetylsalicylate
and metoclopramide in the acute treatment of migraine. Headache