L-Lysine: Benefits, the Right Dosage, and Warnings

Lysine is an important amino acid and a building block for protein, and L-lysine is a form that your body can utilize. L-lysine provides a multitude of benefits from hormone production to disease prevention. Here’s what you need to know.

10 minute read

Last Updated August 14, 2020

L-Lysine: Benefits, the Right Dosage, and Warnings

Lysine is an important amino acid and a building block for protein. L-lysine is a form of lysine that your body can utilize and is found naturally in foods such as meat, seafood, and dairy products, or taken as supplements. 

This amino acid plays a vital role in collagen production, muscle repair, and the transport of fat cells to be burned for energy. L-lysine also produces carnitine, which is an important substance found in almost every cell in your body. 

L-lysine plays an important role in collagen production, providing the structural development that allows collagen to be strong and stable. Lysine plays a similar role in bacterial cells by forming crosslink structures that give the cell walls their stability. 

Maintaining L-lysine levels is essential to general good health, but supplements can provide additional benefits to people with certain conditions. 

L-lysine works to boost your immune system by up-regulating its performance. This amino acid controls specific antibodies known as IgG. The levels of these antibodies in the blood increases in the presence of l-lysine. With more antibodies in the blood to identify and neutralize pathogens, your immunity is stronger.

L-lysine also adjusts your body chemistry, making it inhospitable for viruses and bacteria. This is important support for your immune system. Poor lifestyle choices, unhealthy diets, chronic stress, and antibiotics can all weaken your immune system. When weakened, it is unable to protect you from infection and disease. L-lysine supports immune strength, by keeping your body clear of invading pathogens.

Health Benefits of L-Lysine

Despite being a small amino acid, L-lysine provides some significant benefits to your body and overall health. 

Reduce Anxiety

L-lysine was shown to block receptors in the body that are involved in the stress response, indicating that it can potentially reduce anxiety. When supplements of L-lysine were given to healthy subjects, both levels of the stress hormone cortisol and stress-induced anxiety were significantly reduced. 

Additional studies have shown that L-lysine supplements reduce cortisol levels in high-stressed individuals, both male and female. These studies have also lead mental health professionals to believe that L-lysine can help schizophrenic patients by improving their symptoms, although research is still in early stages.

Collagen Production

Collagen is a protein that helps to support and provide structure to bones and skin. L-lysine is required for collagen production and can help improve wound healing.

 L-lysine is activated at injury sites and can speed up the repair process by producing collagen. It serves as a binding agent, bringing more cells to the wound area and promoting the formation of new blood vessels. 

When combined with another amino acid arginine, studies found the healing process of bone fractures is improved. Wound healing requires several vitamins and minerals, but without l-lysine, the healing process would be impaired.

Treat Cold Sores

Cold sores are fluid-filled blisters that develop around the mouth. They’re caused by the HSV-1 (herpes simplex virus type 1) virus. This virus can lay dormant for long periods of time, but stress can trigger activation and the development of a cold sore. The blisters can be painful, and for many individuals, they are recurrent. 

Studies found that L-lysine supplements can reduce the duration of a cold sore and can prevent HSV-1 from replicating. HSV-1 requires arginine to multiply, and L-lysine blocks the actions of this amino acid. The application of a cream containing L-lysine will also reduce cold sore discomfort and duration. 

Blood Pressure Regulation

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is one of the most common cardiovascular problems in the United States and significantly increases your risk for heart disease. Individuals with high blood pressure have also been found to have low lysine levels. 

Studies found that regular L-lysine supplementation reduces blood pressure in those already known to be lysine deficient. 

Prevent Bone Loss

Osteoporosis is a common age-related condition resulting in bone density loss. L-lysine enhances the body’s absorption of calcium, which supports bone health and strength. Regular lysine supplementation can prevent bone loss and conditions like osteoporosis. 

It is important to monitor calcium intake so as not to absorb too much. You should not take calcium and L-lysine supplements at the same time. 

Cancer Prevention

Amino acids have the ability to impact cells directly. While some amino acids work to support cell growth, others prohibit growth and activity. 

L-lysine is a prohibitive amino acid when it comes to cells, specifically cancerous cells. This amino acid inhibits the invasive activity of cancerous cells and is especially effective when combined with vitamin C. 

Diabetes Management

Diabetes is characterized by high levels of blood glucose, and this can be dangerous for health if left untreated. Untreated diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, and nerve damage. 

Careful monitoring of blood glucose, along with L-lysine supplements, can be useful. L-lysine has been found to reduce blood glucose concentrations in the blood and improve insulin sensitivity. 

By helping to naturally regulate blood sugar levels, diabetes can be more effectively managed, and worse conditions can be prevented. 

L-Lysine Deficiency

Due to the importance of L-lysine to several biological processes, a lack of this amino acid can lead to serious diseases. Lysine deficiency can cause anemia, impaired fatty acid metabolism, defective connective tissue, and protein-energy deficiency. 

The symptoms of L-lysine deficiency to look for include:

♦ Nausea
♦ Red eyes
♦ Fatigue
♦ Poor concentration
♦ Irritability
♦ Anorexia
♦ Anemia
♦ Hair loss

The Right Dosage of L-Lysine

When taking the recommended dosage of L-lysine, the risk of side effects is low. Typically, the dietary guideline for L-lysine consumption is 1 gram per day. In most cases, a dose of 3 grams per day is considered safe. 

L-lysine is more effective when taken on an empty stomach with a glass of water. The amount you need each day is based on your weight.

♦ 12mg/ kg of body weight for adults
♦ 44mg/ kilogram for children aged 11-12
♦ 97mg/ kilogram for infants

Most people in the United States get their recommended daily dose of L-lysine without needing to make dietary changes. Individuals that do not eat meat, dairy, or other animal products may need to get supplemental support or consume extra plant-based sources. 

Individuals that frequently perform high-intensity workouts may also benefit from additional L-lysine. When using this supplement to boost athletic performance, it is best consumed before sleep or exercise. 

Side Effects and Warnings

Taking more than 15 grams per day has been associated with unpleasant side effects such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea. In addition to this, excessive consumption of L-lysine at these high levels has been linked to kidney problems and a higher risk for gallstones and higher cholesterol. Individuals with high cholesterol or taking cholesterol medications need to carefully monitor their lysine supplements.

L-lysine can also have interactions with other compounds or drugs, so you need to discuss any supplement with your doctor before starting. 

Lysine interacts with another amino acid arginine, which supports your circulatory system. Excessive intake of L-lysine can reduce the body’s ability to move arginine through the body to where it is needed. 

L-lysine also boosts the absorption of calcium, so it is important to monitor calcium intake and lower calcium supplement use if needed. 

A specific group of antibiotics called aminoglycosides can have negative interactions with L-lysine causing kidney damage. These antibiotics are typically administered for severe infections, so your doctor must always be aware of any supplements you are taking.

Taking L-lysine is safe and effective in recommended doses, but you need to seek immediate medical attention should you notice any of the following symptoms:

♦ Kidney problems
♦ Excessive fatigue 
♦ Chest tightness
♦ Fever
♦ Seizures
♦ Chronic diarrhea
♦ Vomiting

An overabundance of lysine in the body can cause severe neurological issues and needs to be corrected immediately to prevent permanent damage. 

The Bottom Line

L-lysine is a form of the amino acid lysine, and it’s used as a preventive for certain health conditions, and it provides better overall health. This amino acid is essential in that we cannot make it and must acquire it from other sources. 

L-lysine provides a multitude of benefits from hormone production and enzyme regulation to disease prevention. Following a recommended dose of L-lysine from your doctor can help you achieve better physical and mental health.

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