L-lysine is an essential amino acid that has to be provided through the food we eat, since it can’t be produced by the body. Together with 19 other amino acids lysine is building all the proteins in our body. Some amino acids are synthesized in the body and they are called non-essential and those which have to be taken by the food are called essential amino acids.
Lysine is important for the overall growth of our body, building of new muscles and recovery from the injuries of the body. It helps in production of carnitine, lowering cholesterol in the blood and converting fatty acids to the energy fuel for the body. Lysine gets converted into allysine in the body, which is important for production of both collagen and elastin. Collagen, on the other hand is necessary for healthy bones, cartilage, tendons, and skin.
Lysine is used to treat cold sores and herpes simplex infections. Patients suffering from herpes are advised to use supplements that contain at least 1250mg of lysine, and also some vitamin C and zinc.
Athletes need more lysine during the strenuous exercise. After an intensive physical stress, the body requires more lysine and uses all available reserves. If the exercise was extremely intensive, there might be a lack of lysine, causing muscle damage. Therefore, many sport doctors recommend taking lysine supplements to avoid these consequences.
Lack of lysine in the diet might cause many medical problems. There may be a problem with the loss of hair or appetite, anemia, growth difficulties, bloodshot eyes, kidney stones and reproductive problems. People suffering from lysine deficiency could also experience anxiety, dizziness, tiredness, lethargy and concentration problems.
Certain foods are great sources of lysine, and many people prefer using them instead of the lysine supplements. Animal food, especially beef and pork are rich in lysine. Fish, shellfish, turkey, chicken and eggs are also well known to contain plenty of lysine. If you are cheese lover, you don’t have to worry, because you probably eat plenty of this amino acid. Actually, milk, yogurt and all other dairy products contain lysine, but cheeses have higher amounts of it. You can eat any of the cheeses: Edam, Gouda, gruyere, parmesan, etc. Seaweed and parsley, celery, pumpkins, cauliflower, peas and grains are great sources of lysine food suitable for vegetarians. There is plenty of this amino acid in different nuts (almonds, Brazil and cashew nuts) and also in some fruits, such as apples, bananas, apricots and pears.