L-lysine is one of the eight essential amino acids and one of the 22 proteinogenic amino acids. It cannot be produced by the human body and must be consumed in its entirety with the diet.

Benefits of L-lysine

L-lysine plays a particularly important role in the immune system. It is involved in the development of antibodies and has important antiviral properties.

Studies show that this particular amino acid is especially beneficial for safeguarding against herpes virus. Lysine has been shown to decrease occurrences of anxiety1 and it assists with the formation of collagen and muscle tissue.

It is also involved in protein biosynthesis, especially in building collagen together with the amino acids Glycine and Proline. An L-lysine deficiency may therefore result in broken skin, fragile nails and in extreme cases loss of hair.

There is also evidence that L-lysine increases the effectiveness of L-arginine in promoting human growth hormone (HGH) release. Suminski and colleagues found that HGH was increased when weightlifters ingested Arginine and Lysine without exercise2.

Balancing Lysine & Arginine for Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Treatment

Arginine encourages the HSV to replicate. Lysine on the other hand is used to treat HSV due to its well-researched immune-enhancing and tissue-healing properties. However, blood serum Arginine levels should be low for effective HSV inhibition by Lysine3.  Once infected, controlling HSV recurrences through diet is based on a person’s ability to regulate their lysine/arginine balance.

This “balance-theory’s” downside is that accomplishing the correct arginine/lysine balance through diet alone is extremely difficult and restrictive.

Also, while supplementing lysine especially to treat HSV has valid research to back it, there is also research to suggest that upsetting the delicate balance of these two amino acids may decrease natural immunity. Arginine, previously thought of as non-essential and now reclassified to semi-essential, has been shown to be important for enhancing immune response45.

In other words, increasing Lysine can be helpful, but may prove to be a double-edged sword if taken long-term due to reduced immunity caused by the exclusion of Arginine.

Side effects of L-lysine

There is some evidence of a reduction of blood clotting during the supplementation of L-lysine. It should therefore not be consumed in large doses during pregnancy or before surgery.

Further, there is evidence that L-lysine can reduce blood sugar in Diabetes Type 2 patients6.

An daily long-term dose of 3,000mg per day is otherwise considered safe in adults. 7

Dosage of L-lysine

The RDI (Recommended Daily Intake) for Lysine is 38 mg of Lysine (Female – 2,280 mg. Male – 3,040 mg) per kilo per day. The figures in brackets are the daily totals in mg for a 60kg (132 lbs) female and an 80kg (176 lbs) male.

Between 500mg and 1,500 mg L-lysine daily are recommended for the prophylaxis of herpes simplex, ideally in combination with Zinc and Vitamin C. The dose for treatment of an active herpes-simplex infection the daily dose should be 3,000 mg per day.

To improve the insuline resistance during treatment of diabetes mellitus 1,000mg L-lysine per day are recommended. This should be combined with other anti-oxidative nutrients and amino acids such as  L-arginine and L-carnitine.

Sources of L-lysine

Good sources of this essential amino acid include fish, eggs, cheese, lima beans, potatoes, red meat, milk, yeast, and soy products.

References:

  1. “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17510493”
  2. “University of Maryland Medical Center. “Lysine” Retrieved from http://www.umm.edu/ at 21. May 2013″
  3. “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11131583”
  4. “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25164444”
  5. “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17513447”
  6. “Sulochana et al., “Insulin receptor tyrosine kinase activity in monocytes of type 2 diabetes mellitus patients receiving oral L-lysine”, Indinan Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics, 2001, 38 (S) 331-334″
  7. “Burgerstein et al, “Handbuch Nährstoffe”, 12. Aufl., 2012, S. 268”