Believe it or not, the very element that helps in building protein and treating cold sores can actually help fight cancer. Yes, you read that right. We're talking about L-Lysine. The aforementioned are only a few of the numerous benefits L-Lysine has to offer!
While L-lysine has been extensively used for workout recovery and treatment of herpes virus, it was not until recently that it was discovered that the amino acid in fact offers a variety of other benefits and actually is a great boost to your overall health! The benefits of L-lysine are multi-faceted and include many things, from diabetes to anxiety and many things in between.
This post enumerates the various benefits of L-Lysine, along with other important aspects. Read on to know more about what L-Lysine is and what its various benefits are!
What Is L-Lysine?
Often dubbed as “the basis of protein”, it is an amino acid of essential nature that the human body needs for a variety of purposes. Among the hundreds of amino acids that are found in nature, around twenty are required for growth and protein creation, only ten of which your body can actually produce on its own. The remaining amino acids are referred to as “essential” since they are instrumental in maintaining good health.
A deficiency in these amino acids causes deterioration of the internal cells, which in turn causes major health problems and serious ailments. It is therefore imperative that you take enough of them as a part of your diet and maintain a good health and fit body.
These amino acids acts as stereoisomers, which means they are found in two separate variations which are mirror images of each other. They have two distinct forms D- and L-, the latter of which is used in the process of protein synthesis. This is the form that is present in foods and as supplements. It is because of this reason that many people simply call it lysine.
L-lysine has a variety of benefits, treating common problems such as cold sores and anxiety symptoms. While it can be taken directly in the form of supplements, it is best to consume it through food, and it is abundantly available in beans, cheese, meat, and eggs.
L-lysine is also instrumental in creating carnitine which helps lower cholesterol and converts fatty acids to energy. It also helps the body absorb calcium and helps in the formation of collagen, which helps in the maintenance and growth of skin, connective tissue and bones.
Benefits Of L-Lysine
Can Reduce Frequency and Outbreak Of Herpes Viruses
These are in fact the most widely known benefits of L-Lysine. If you have heard of L-lysine before, there is a fair chance that it had something to do with treating cold sores and herpes viruses.
Cold sores are caused by the herpes-simplex-1-virus, which is often alternatively called the HSV-1. Approximately 67 % of all people who are under the age of 50 have the virus in their body, even if they do not display any symptoms. HSV-2, on the other hand, is the virus that causes genital herpes. Over 85% of carriers of this virus are unaware they actually carry it.
Although research under the current circumstances is inconsistent at best, most people who have used L-lysine to take care of cold sores have found it extremely effective. While some studies claim that L-lysine helps in reducing the frequency of HSV outbreaks, others claim that it has no effect on frequency but reduce the intensity considerably.
According to a study that used a topical cream containing L-lysine along with zinc and herbs, over 87% of patients realized that their cold sores had disappeared by the sixth day of their treatment.
Keep in mind the fact that cold sores are known to stay for at least 21 days. While it is still unclear how it fights cold sores, many scientists assume that it has something to do with its interaction with the amino acid arginine, which the body produces in small amounts.
Arginine has the property to increase herpes virus cells' replication rates, and the interactions of L-lysine decreases their activity on account of the fact that they are counteractive.
Apart from fighting the cold-sore-causing HSV-1 virus, L-lysine also helps in treating genital herpes which is caused by the HSV-2 virus. Proper research in the matter is yet to be conducted, however.
Helps In Treating Cancer
Scientists today are increasingly on the hunt for alternative ways to treat cancer i.e. methods other than radiation and chemotherapy. This is primarily because these treatments, while destroying cancer cells, have an extremely negative impact on the healthy ones.
Quite surprisingly, scientists have been successful in their endeavors to some extent, with researchers having discovered many different ways in which nutrients found in nature and more specifically in our food can actually help killing off the malignant cells without even harming the good ones.
In 2007, Florida State University scientists studied the link between “lysine conjugates” and damaged DNA strands (which are characteristic of cancer).
They found that lysine has the ability to actually find a damaged DNA strand through a damaged area (or “cleavage” that often gradually causes the remaining strand to tear apart (or “cleave”).
The cell generally cannot repair the damage, which leads to apoptosis or cell death.
The best thing about this treatment is the way it responds to different light-types. The lysine conjugates' cancer-killing properties are activated only when they get exposed to certain types of light, during which the doctors/researchers apply the treatment to places where cancer cells are present in the highest concentration and thereafter activate them on their most effective spots.
According to the finding of the study, the treatment was successful in destroying 25% to 90% of damaged cancer cells. This indeed is an astounding achievement!
In 2014, a study was conducted that consisted of lysine oxidase being tested on mice suffering from colorectal cancer.
Not only did the treatment not cause any deaths, it helped reduce the size of the solid tumors considerably, thus signifying that this treatment does have the potential to go mainstream in the future.
According to findings from preliminary research, L-Lysine also helps in treating those cancers which originate from the bone marrow, for example leukemia. According to a study, L-lysine injections aided in preventing genotoxicity (RNA and DNA damage) in those cells that were exposed to cancer-causing substances.
Reduces Mental Symptoms Such As Anxiety
Alongside omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium and vitamin B, L-lysine plays a vital role in minimizing anxiety and related symptoms.
This is perhaps due to the fact that L-lysine helps assimilate calcium better in the body, which is a very beneficial nutrient for those who suffer from anxiety symptoms.
Additionally, L-lysine acts a antagonist of serotonin receptors i.e it binds partially to serotonin receptors, which in turn curb anxiety responses – at least partially, and helps reduce anxiety responses such as diarrhea, which are mainly stress-induced.
This is of extreme importance in countries that are developing countries. Due to wheat being their staple food, these people are more vulnerable to have less L-lysine in their system. An ideal dose of it therefore can reduce both diarrhea responses as well as stress-induced anxiety symptoms.
It is also assumed that L-lysine helps in treating schizophrenia, which often manifests itself in the form of anxiety symptoms.
According to preliminary findings, L-lysine supplementation combined with therapy can actually decrease schizophrenia symptoms. That said, the long-term effects and dosage are yet to be determined.
Increases Calcium Absorption
L-lysine consumption helps the body to assimilate calcium more efficiently, which in turn has lead many to assume that it may help those who either have or are likely to get osteoporosis.
While no official studies that would link these two have been conducted (yet), it is only logical to assume that given calcium's indispensable role in bone health, L-Lysine would act as a beneficial nutrient, especially for those who have brittle bones.
Calcium also has a host of other benefits, such as (but not limited to) cancer prevention, weight management, reduction of PMS symptoms, dental, muscle and nerve health, and even diabetes prevention.
Many athletes are known to consume L-lysine in the form of a protein supplement. This most definitely has some link to the fact that L-lysine helps the body take in calcium better.
Reduces Diabetes-Related Problems
Patients of diabetes are often at a risk for infections as well as other conditions that are related to diabetes. This issue has been given a lot of attention to, evidenced by the introduction of the various advanced glycation end (AGE) products. While AGEs are present in every single person, it is found in a much larger quantity among diabetic patients.
Often found as such in those suffering from health conditions related to diabetes, many scientists actually conduct therapies whose purpose is to stop these AGEs accumulating in the body.
According to scientific observation, L-lysine helps in curbing the growth and quantity of AGEs among diabetic patients by blocking the glycation paths which lead to their formation. Diabetics should, therefore include L-lysine rich foods in their diet.
Helps To Keep The Gut Healthy
One very common problem which is highly common, yet undetected is leaky gut. Long story short, it is a permeation of the digestive tract lining which in turn allows large particles to venture out of the tract and go other areas of your body subsequently causing low energy, allergic reactions, thyroid disease, joint pain, and other autoimmune diseases.
Very recently, a version of L-lysine called poly-L-lysine was discovered, which was found to contain great anti-inflammatory effects on your gut lining. Extensive research will be conducted on this very soon, the information from which will eventually be used to improve the lining's health and prevent leaky gut.
L-lysine also benefits other parts of the digestive area. For instance, it helps suppress pancreatitis, which is characterized by the pancreatic inflammation.
Ideal Dosage And Natural L-Lysine Food Sources
While it is always possible to take supplements, it is always recommended to take your nutrients through food. Not only does that enable the body to absorb supplements naturally, it prevents the risk of overdosing.
That said, supplements too can be beneficial, especially in those instances where you have no idea whether you will be able to meet the daily-value recommendations of required nutrients.
An individual weighing about 150 pounds should ideally take 800–3000 mg of L-lysine among their diets. The ideal dosage to treat herpes outbreaks should be around 1-3 gm of L-lysine supplement daily.
Additionally, Lysine is also used in the form of topical creams which can be applied to cold sores. There is one thing, however, that you should remember while eating foods that are rich in Lysine: Preparation methods, especially conventional ones, can actually lessen lysine's nutritive value. These methods include moisture-devoid cooking, reducing using a sugar-based substance, and heating foods in sucrose or yeast, among others.
Top Ten Foods Containing High L-Lysine Content
The following are the top ten foods that are rich in L-Lysine:
- Lean lamb and beef (171% DV; 3,582 milligrams/100 grams)
- Parmesan cheese (157% DV; 3,306 milligrams/100 grams)
- Turkey and chicken (148% DV; 3,110 milligrams/100 grams)
- Pork (131% DV; 2,757 milligrams/100 grams)
- Roasted soy beans (125% DV; 2,634 milligrams/100 grams)
- Tuna (123% DV; 2,590 milligrams/100 grams)- Shrimp (103% DV; 2,172 milligrams/100 grams)
- Pumpkin seeds (66% DV; 1,386 milligrams/100 grams)
- Eggs (43% DV; 912 milligrams/100 grams)
- White beans (32% DV; 668 milligrams/100 grams)
While all of these foods are rich in lysine, it would be better to avoid shrimp, soy, and pork given the fact that they are often found to be toxin-contaminated. You should also be careful about the cheese, eggs, and meat you consume to make sure they are as much organic, free-range and grass-fed whenever possible.
History Of L-Lysine
Lysine was discovered in 1889 by a scientist who was known only by the single name Dreschel. He was successful in isolating lysine from milk protein (called casein), and recorded the precise molecular structure around three years afterwards.
Further research was conducted in 1928 by Vickery and Leavenworth (who prepared L-Lysine in a crystalline form) and then by Weigert and Fischer, who finally completed the synthesizing process.
Interesting Facts About L-Lysine
While L-Lysine is indeed a very essential amino acid, and is found naturally, it is quite interestingly not produced by any animal body. L-Lysine has made some very high-profile pop-culture references. For instance, in both the book and the film version of Jurassic Park the “lysine contingency” was a method of preventing dinosaurs from going to live outside of the park.
According to this otherwise faulty logic, the geneticists who created dinosaurs rendered them as incapable of making lysine on their own, which would lead to their death if they did not take lysine supplements from their masters regularly.
L-Lysine also made a brief appearance in the 13th episode of the 2nd season of the popular science sitcom “Big Bang Theory,” when lead character Sheldon Cooper called it his favorite amino acid.
The 2009 Matt Damon-starrer “The Informant” was based on the real life case on U.S. price-fixing, that brought in a settlement of $100 million as well as 3 executives who were convicted for their offense.
Potential Side Effects Of L-Lysine
While consuming lysine-rich foods have no side-effects, supplements of the same have been observed to cause certain minor side-effects such as diarrhea and stomach pain. Additionally, an instance of kidney disease caused in connection with lysine supplements has also been reported.
Those who suffer from liver and kidney-related issues, therefore, must proceed with caution and make sure to consult with their doctor before they actually take lysine supplements.
Given the fact that there is no research has been conducted to study the effect of lysine supplements on expectant as well as nursing mothers, anybody going through any of these two stages are better-off avoiding L-lysine supplements.
While L-lysine does have many benefits to offer, it is not very good for HIV patients since it actually helps the virus to multiply.
That is why HIV/AIDS patients must never take supplements of L-Lysine or consume foods that are very rich in lysine. On the flip side though, scientists who have discovered this are now using the information to speed-up the testing of anti-HIV treatments.
L-Lysine Final Words
L-Lysine is an amino acid that the body needs to absorb to successfully build proteins. An average individual requires approximately 800-3,000 milligrams of it daily.
L-Lysine is something that the human body cannot produce on its own and therefore needs to be consumed from outside, either in the form of food or as supplements. It can also be found in the form of a topical cream that can be applied to the skin.
L-Lysine is most commonly used to treat the virus herpes simplex and cold sores. As stated, those are not its only benefits, though. The amino acid has numerous variations and mechanisms which can be used to fight cancer by causing death of cancer cells, as well as reducing the tumor size all without causing damage to any nearby healthy cells.
L-lysine has other benefits as well, such as reducing diabetes and related illnesses, improving gut health and increasing the absorption of calcium. The easiest and best way to get the benefits of L-Lysine is by eating foods rich in this very helpful amino acid.