Lysine (also known as L-lysine) is an essential amino acid, meaning we have to ingest it from food or supplements because our bodies cannot naturally synthesize it. Amino acids are the basic building blocks of all protein in the body. Lysine in particular is responsible for muscle protein, calcium absorption, and the creation of important enzymes, hormones, and antibodies. It is also crucial to the production of carnitine, a compound that lowers cholesterol and converts fatty acids to energy.
In general, foods that provide protein are good sources of lysine, as can be deduced from lysine’s aforementioned role as an amino acid. These foods include fish, poultry, pork, red meat, legumes, cheese, eggs, soybeans, nuts, and even spirulina.
Lysine deficiency is rare because of the ubiquity and widespread consumption of the above foods, but symptoms include nausea, dizziness, fatigue, loss of appetite, anæmia, bloodshot eyes, and reproductive disorders. Thankfully, this deficiency can be easily corrected through simple dietary adjustments or the use of a lysine supplement. Heretofore, scientific research conducted on lysine’s capacity to treat or prevent other health conditions has been encouraging.
Some studies indicate that lysine may lysine may have beneficial effects on herpes simplex, while others found no apparent benefit. Other studies indicate that lysine may help reduce anxiety because of its role in the regulation of serotonin receptors.
Scientists also think that lysine aids the body’s absorption of calcium, which means that it may be a possible treatment for osteoporosis, though this possibility has yet to be tested extensively. Lysine even shows promise in the treatment of cancer, with some evidence suggesting that it causes cancerous cells to destroy themselves. More research is needed to understand lysine’s efficacy, but the evidence thus far has been encouraging.