Lysine: The Essential Amino Acid That Builds Collagen And So Much More - Save Our Bones

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:

*Foundation Foods

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!

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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.

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.

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.

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:

5 Wald A, Corey L. “Human Herpesviruses: Biology, Therapy, and Immunoprophylaxis.” Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2007. Chapter 36. Web.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

12 Yamauchi, Mitsuo and Marnisa Sricholpech. “Lysine post-translational modifications of collagen” Essays in biochemistry vol. 52 (2012): 113-33. Web.

13 Datta, D et al. “Lysine: Is it worth more?” Cytotechnology vol. 36,1-3 (2001): 3-32. Web.

14 Guo, S and L A Dipietro. “Factors affecting wound healing” Journal of dental research vol. 89,3 (2010): 219-29. Web.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Comments on this article are closed.

  1. Diane Martinson

    My sister in law takes collagen, a powder she puts in her coffee, for her joints and I thought it might help mine and would also be good for my bones. Do you recommend it and if so how do I choose one? Also I don’t take a multi, I take single supplements of those hard to get in food or that you can’t get in food and figure I get the basics from food but wondered what one you take or how to choose one. I joined your program a long time ago so my book and other paper info I have are old and wondered if there is an updated book?
    Diane Martinson

  2. tricia

    Does lysine help prevent shingles?

    • Lindy

      Is lysine the same as L-lysine?

  3. shulamit sendowski

    This is helpful information on lysine. Thank you.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re welcome, Shulamit 🙂

  4. Gillian Beard

    I follow a lot of your advice, it’s very good and helpful. I have a problem with wheat, bread, and soya malt and barley. also have to watch for fat as I had my gall bladder removed, it can get very disheartening and sometimes I find it hard to cope , so most of your advice works for me. Thanks for your lovely work

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      So glad to know that the information in our website helps you, Gillian!

  5. MarleneV

    What Lysine supplement do you recommend? I have used some three years ago when EBV reactivated. Thanks for your article!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      We recommend getting lysine from food rather than from supplements, Marlene.

  6. Ita

    Thank you, Ita.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re welcome, Ita!


    We have found lysine to be helpful for canker sores also.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Thanks for sharing this, Rochelle!

  8. Paul Christenson

    This is a exert from DR Mercola
    Soybean oil in the past was a partially hydrogenated oil, a product that produced trans fats that can negatively affect your health, such as increasing your risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses
    In an effort to protect public health, the government has banned food manufacturers from using hydrogenated fats, leading them to use so-called “healthy” genetically modified soybeans that don’t need hydrogenation, but may actually endanger your health
    Soy itself contains substances that can work against your health, such as goitrogens and isoflavones. Lectins are another antinutrient, which can interfere with the absorption of important nutrients

  9. Paul Christenson

    Soybeans ( GMO )
    Potatoes ( nightshade) bad for My arthritis
    Wheat germ* ( ? wheat sensitive )

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Paul, we’ve listed the top foods that contain lysine so you can select the ones that best fit your needs.

      • Lindy

        Vivian, Pls tell me the top foods containing lysine. Thank you so much in advance for sharing your knowledge and experiences.
        Have been following you for years.

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