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Lysine is an essential amino acid that plays a major role in calcium absorption, utilization of fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins, building muscle protein, recovering from surgery or sports injuries; and the body’s production of hormones, enzymes, and antibodies.  It is important for proper growth and healthy immunity.

Insufficient levels of lysine in your body can lead to hair loss, anemia, blood-shot eyes and dizziness. Nausea, an inability to concentrate, poor appetite and slowed growth also can occur when your body is deficient in lysine. Lysine deficiencies can lead to the formation of gallstones, unwanted weight loss as well as weight gain and reproductive disorders. If you are easily fatigued or notice muscle waste you may have a lysine deficiency.

Lysine is the first limiting amino acid needed to digest food proteins. In other words, when Lysine is deficient, proteins can only be synthesized to the level of availability of this amino acid. The body must have L-lysine to construct new proteins.  Without it, no matter how much protein is in the food, it will not be properly assimilated to use further in the body as building blocks

Most athletes know the importance of adequate protein to build strong muscles.  Lysine builds the proteins necessary for muscles and connective tissue. Strength and elasticity of ligaments and tendons depend on lysine. Collagen contains hydroxylysine, which is derived from lysine. Lysine also promotes the absorption of calcium and its incorporation into bone tissue. It accelerates the recovery of bone tissue after injuries and operations and helps prevent osteoporosis.

The lack of lysine in men may cause impotence or low testosterone. In athletes, especially in long distance runners, lysine deficiency can lead to chronic inflammation of the tendons and muscle depletion. The lack of lysine in the diet may also lead to a breach of hematopoiesis (the formation of blood cells) and therefore decrease the amount of hemoglobin.

Lysine plays an essential role in the production of carnitine, a nutrient responsible for converting fatty acids into energy. A deficiency can cause impaired lipid (fat) metabolism resulting in diminished utilization of fatty acids. Two-thirds of the human brain is made up of fats. Decreased fat intake, as in low fat diets or decreased fat metabolism can result in reduced production of the “feel good” neuro –hormones like serotonin and dopamine.  Lysine deficiency can manifest as anxiety or sleep disturbances.

Eating more fat without addressing essential metabolites can increase symptoms.  Impaired fat metabolism can also contribute to chronic fatigue, sugar cravings, gall stones and gall bladder health, insulin sensitivity, atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes.

Lysine is found in abundance in red meat, chicken, turkey, dairy products such as yogurt and cottage cheese. This DOES NOT mean that consuming modern day meat and dairy will insure a healthy dose of lysine.  Pasteurization alters amino acids lysine and tyrosine, making them less bioavailable.

Lysine is not synthesized in animals and must be ingested as lysine or lysine-containing proteins found in plants and bacteria.  Grass fed cattle get their lysine by metabolizing the grass in their digestive tract with good bacteria and then absorbing it into their muscle tissue.  Unfortunately, most beef cattle are grain fed and injected with strong antibiotics.

Lysine is found in small amounts in grains, but grinding grain destroys lysine.  Therefore, white flour and other refined foods contain little to no lysine. Lysine is also destroyed by cooking protein foods with sugar.

More reliable sources of lysine include parsley, chives leeks, lentils and garbanzo beans (especially high content in raw sprouts), pumpkin seeds (and sprouts), sunflower seeds (and sprouts), buckwheat (and sprouts), raw split peas (and sprouts), spirulina, spinach, raw amaranth and quinoa.

 Sprouts or sprouting your food is one of the best ways to get LYSINE.  Sprouts are one of the most bioavailable sources of amino acids (protein).  They are also one of the best sources of enzymes, vitamins and minerals.  Vegetables, fruits, legumes and grains subjected to fermentation also see increases in both their macro- and micronutrient profiles. The bioavailability of amino acids particularly lysine and methionine, increases with lactic acid fermentation.

Increase your lysine with these recipes:

Fermented Cabbage and veggies


Moringa Morning Madness

Chickpea Veggie Burger


Lysine is well known for its antiviral properties. It helps prevent outbreaks of herpes and cold sores. Studies have shown that taking supplemental L-lysine in combination with vitamin C and flavonoids can effectively fight and/or prevent herpes outbreaks.  Lysine has shown to be effective in treating both the shingles and HPV virus.

Additional health problems that may be related to lysine deficiency are kidney stone formation, low thyroid hormone production, high triglycerides, asthma, chronic viral infections, and abnormal growth and development.

Here are the basic functions of lysine in the body:

  • Production of antibodies of the immune system.
  • Production of the hormones the endocrine system.
  • Production of enzymes of the digestive system.
  • Providing transport of blood oxygen and nutrients.
  • Ensuring and maintaining brain neuro-hormones.
  • Ensuring heart muscle operation.
  • Ensuring nitrogen metabolism.
  • Ensuring function of the gallbladder.
  • Activation of the pineal gland and mammary glands.
  • Ensuring assimilation of amino acids
  • Promotes normal growth and development by increasing production of collagen to build bone, cartilage and connective tissues.
  • 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
  • Helps lower bad cholesterol levels, thus reducing the risk for heart disease
  • 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

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This information is for educational purposes only and is not meant in any way to diagnose, treat or interfere with prescribed medical care.
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