Lysine: The Essential Amino Acid That Builds Collagen And So Much More
Lysine is an essential amino acid, necessary for many functions in the body. The word essential indicates that it is one of the nine amino acids that we need, but since we can’t synthesize it, we must obtain it from the foods we eat.
Lysine can also be considered essential because it performs many other important biological functions. It’s necessary for collagen production, for calcium absorption, has been scientifically shown to reduce stress, and more.
Savers will note that these three functions play an important role in bone health. Read on to learn about lysine’s benefits, and how to get enough of this amino acid in your pH-balanced diet.
Lysine And Protein
Amino acids are necessary for protein synthesis, including muscle tissue. The most plentiful sources of lysine are animal proteins, which are acidifying, so they should be consumed in moderation to maintain an 80/20 balance between alkalizing and acidifying foods. There are also non-animal protein sources of lysine that can be easily incorporated into your diet.
Now let’s take an in-depth look at the bone health benefits of lysine.
Lysine Reduces Stress
In several studies, lysine has been shown to reduce stress levels.1,2,3
A study conducted on rats found that the amino acid blocked receptors involved with stress response, reducing stress-induced anxiety and related intestinal dysfunction.1
In two separate studies with human participants, lysine was found to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. One study assessed the effect of one week of lysine supplementation among 180 Japanese adults.2 The other was a 3-month randomized, double-blind study testing whether lysine fortification of wheat would reduce anxiety and stress response in poor Syrian communities.3 Both studies found lysine to be effective at lowering anxiety and reducing cortisol levels.
High cortisol levels have been directly linked to reduced bone density and a host of other negative health effects.4
Lysine has been shown to reduce anxiety and levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The latter, chronically present in higher-than-normal levels, damages bones.
Lysine Helps To Absorb And Retain Calcium
Calcium is the primary building block of bone. The ability to effectively absorb calcium via digestion, and to then retain it for use in new bone formation is essential for reversing and preventing osteoporosis.
Studies have shown that lysine supplementation both increased intestinal calcium absorption and decreased urinary loss of the mineral.9,10
Researchers demonstrated the bone-building power of lysine in a study that examined the impact of the amino acid on fracture healing in rabbits. In the test group that received the lysine supplements, the time of healing was reduced by two weeks.11
Lysine increases calcium levels by boosting its absorption and decreasing urinary loss.
Lysine Is Necessary For Collagen Production
Lysine is required for the production of collagen, which makes up almost a third of our skin, bone, and connective tissue. The bone matrix is comprised of about 40% organic components, 90% of which is collagen.12
Without lysine, you can’t produce the collagen that makes bone tough and flexible.
Lysine’s direct contribution to the formation of bone is part of why it has been shown to reduce fracture healing time.11 It has likewise been shown to speed up the repair of other tissues and to promote the formation of tissue, including new blood vessels.13,14
Lysine directly contributes to bone formation by enabling the production of collagen.
Additional Benefits Of Lysine
In addition to the bone health benefits of lysine described above, the amino acid contributes to overall health in several other ways:
- Lysine reduces blood sugar spikes from glucose in people with diabetes.15
- A study on rats found that lysine supplementation can prevent the development of cataracts.16
- An animal study that combined lysine with the antioxidant catechin reduced cancer cell growth.17
- In adults with a lysine deficiency and high blood pressure, increasing lysine consumption significantly reduced blood pressure.18
- Lysine is required for muscle growth, which supports the stimulation of new bone formation.19
Lysine has been found to reduce blood sugar spikes in people with diabetes, prevent cataracts, reduce cancer growth, and lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure and lysine deficiency.
Lysine Protects Against And Treats Cold Sores
Cold sores or fever blisters, often appearing on the lips or around the mouth, are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), a virus carried by about 65% of Americans.5 Lysine has been shown to prevent HSV-1 from replicating and to reduce the duration of cold sores.6,7
In one study with participants who regularly develop cold sores, a daily supplement of 1,000 mg of lysine reduced the number of cold sore breakouts.8 Researchers suspect that lysine has this effect because it blocks another amino acid, arginine, which HSV-1 utilizes to multiply.
Lysine has been shown to reduce the occurrence of cold sore outbreaks, and reduce their duration.
How To Make Lysine Part Of Your pH-Balanced Diet
Lysine must be obtained from the foods we eat since our bodies can’t produce it.
While lysine helps to alkalize the serum pH through calcium absorption and retention, its richest sources are acidifying animal proteins. Most meats, seafood, and dairy products are rich sources of lysine. If you choose to include animal products as part of the 20% of acidifying foods in your pH-balanced diet, then you’re almost certainly getting enough lysine.
There are also plenty of vegetarian sources of lysine, some of which are alkalizing:
- Black beans*
- Wheat germ*
- Pumpkin Seeds*
Lysine For A Healthier Life
Incorporate these foods into your diet to ensure that you’re getting the lysine your body needs to produce collagen, absorb and retain calcium, and build strong and fracture-resistant bones.
Eat Your Way to Stronger Bones!
Discover over 200 mouth-watering bone healthy recipes for breakfast, smoothies, appetizers, soups, salads, vegetarian dishes, fish, and plenty of main courses and even desserts!
1 Smriga, Miro and Kunio Torii. “L-Lysine acts like a partial serotonin receptor 4 antagonist and inhibits serotonin-mediated intestinal pathologies and anxiety in rats” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America vol. 100,26 (2003): 15370-5. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC307574/
2 Smriga M, Ando T, Akutsu M, Furukawa Y, Miwa K, Morinaga Y. “Oral treatment with L-lysine and L-arginine reduces anxiety and basal cortisol levels in healthy humans.” Biomed Res. 2007 Apr;28(2):85-90. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17510493?report=abstract
3 Smriga, Miro et al. “Lysine fortification reduces anxiety and lessens stress in family members in economically weak communities in Northwest Syria” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America vol. 101,22 (2004): 8285-8. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC420386/
4 Dennison E, Hindmarsh P, Fall C, Kellingray S, Barker D, Phillips D, Cooper C. “Profiles of endogenous circulating cortisol and bone mineral density in healthy elderly men.” J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1999 Sep;84(9):3058-63. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10487665
5 Wald A, Corey L. “Human Herpesviruses: Biology, Therapy, and Immunoprophylaxis.” Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2007. Chapter 36. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK47447/
6 Griffith RS, DeLong DC, Nelson JD. “Relation of arginine-lysine antagonism to herpes simplex growth in tissue culture.” Chemotherapy. 1981;27(3):209-13. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6262023/
7 Griffith RS, Walsh DE, Myrmel KH, Thompson RW, Behforooz A. “Success of L-lysine therapy in frequently recurrent herpes simplex infection. Treatment and prophylaxis.” Dermatologica. 1987;175(4):183-90. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3115841/
8 Thein DJ, Hurt WC. “Lysine as a prophylactic agent in the treatment of recurrent herpes simplex labialis.” Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol. 1984 Dec;58(6):659-66. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6438572
9 Shimomura, Akihiro et al. “Dietary L-lysine prevents arterial calcification in adenine-induced uremic rats” Journal of the American Society of Nephrology : JASN vol. 25,9 (2014): 1954-65. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4147981/
10 Civitelli, R., Fedde, K.N., Harter, J. et al. “Effect of L-lysine on cytosolic calcium homeostasis in cultured human normal fibroblasts” Calcif Tissue Int (1989) 45: 193. Web. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02556063#citeas
11 Sinha, Shivam and Satish Chandra Goel. “Effect of amino acids lysine and arginine on fracture healing in rabbits: A radiological and histomorphological analysis” Indian journal of orthopaedics vol. 43,4 (2009): 328-34. Web https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2762560/
12 Yamauchi, Mitsuo and Marnisa Sricholpech. “Lysine post-translational modifications of collagen” Essays in biochemistry vol. 52 (2012): 113-33. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3499978/
13 Datta, D et al. “Lysine: Is it worth more?” Cytotechnology vol. 36,1-3 (2001): 3-32. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3449675/
14 Guo, S and L A Dipietro. “Factors affecting wound healing” Journal of dental research vol. 89,3 (2010): 219-29. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2903966/
15 Kalogeropoulou D, LaFave L, Schweim K, Gannon MC, Nuttall FQ. “Lysine ingestion markedly attenuates the glucose response to ingested glucose without a change in insulin response.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Aug;90(2):314-20. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19553295?report=abstract
16 Sulochana KN, Punitham R, Ramakrishnan S. “Beneficial effect of lysine and amino acids on cataractogenesis in experimental diabetes through possible antiglycation of lens proteins.” Exp Eye Res. 1998 Nov;67(5):597-601. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9878222
17 Payen VL, Porporato PE, Danhier P, Vazeille T, Blackman MCNM, May BH, Niebes P, Sonveaux P. “(+)-Catechin in a 1:2 Complex with Lysine Inhibits Cancer Cell Migration and Metastatic Take in Mice.” Front Pharmacol. 2017 Dec 4;8:869. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29255416
18 Frederick Vuvor, et al. “Effect of lysine supplementation on hypertensive men and women in selected peri-urban community in Ghana.” BMC Nutrition. 27 July 2017. 3:67. Web. https://bmcnutr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40795-017-0187-6
19 Meenu Singh, et al. “Medicinal Uses of L-Lysine: Past and Future” nternational Journal of Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences. January 2011. 2(4). Web. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267817166_Medicinal_Uses_of_L-Lysine_Past_and_Future