Amino acids, as precursors to proteins, are often called the building blocks of life. Lysine is one of a family of amino acids known as essential amino acids, which means that it cannot be synthesized by the human body and must be obtained through the diet, and also that the human body needs it in order to perform a variety of essential functions.
In the case of Lysine, one of its primary essential roles in the body is being involved in the release of energy from fatty acids, a role it fulfills by stimulating the production of a nutrient called carnitine.
Lysine is also involved in the absorption of calcium, which is the most significant mineral in the human body, and in the creation of collagen which maintains the structure of every cell in the body and without which we would quite literally fall apart.
Impacts of Lysine deficiency
Lysine deficiency can cause a number of detrimental health problems, including fatigue, appetite loss, anaemia, nausea and kidney stones, amongst others.
Lysine deficiency is rare however, except in the cases of very strict vegetarians, as much of our dietary intake of lysine and other essential amino acids come from animal products.
Athletes who train very hard can also experience lysine deficiency, which is why L-lysine is a popular dietary supplement for many serious athletes and particularly for bodybuilders.
Medical uses of L-lysine include as a treatment for both shingles and herpes, where it can reduce the symptoms of both diseases, including the tell-tale skin legions, and help to shorten recovery time while reducing the frequency of relapses.
L-Lysine is also used to treat the bone disease osteoporosis, which is when the bones lose calcium over a period of time and become weak as a result of the calcium being needed by other parts of the body and not being available from dietary sources.
Studies found that not only can supplementing with L-lysine halt the loss of calcium from the bones, but that it may also stimulate, in conjunction with L-arginine, the production of new bone cells and thus actually strengthen the bones.
L-lysine may also stimulate new collagen production. Collagen is essential to maintain the structure of all cells in the body, including in the bones.
Some forms of L-lysine have also been found to have pain suppressant qualities, particularly in cases of menstrual pain and some kinds of migraine.
NSAIDs are sometimes combined with lysine in order to improve their painkilling qualities and speed of action.
Some positive aspects of L-lysine
Experiments have indicated that L-lysine may have a beneficial effect on the immune system, stimulating the production of antibodies that fight infections, and also that it may play a role in improving blood flow, which has many good knock-on effects, including possibly improving mental function.
L-lysine is primarily taken as a supplement by athletes, and particularly bodybuilders, because it is thought to play an important role in protein synthesis.
The immune system benefits of lysine are also important here because they help the body to recover fasted following periods of particular stress and strain, for example following an intensive workout.
Lysine is also a precursor to all of the proteins needed by the human body, and therefore those used to synthesize new lean muscle tissue.
No matter how hard you train, if there is insufficient protein available for your body to construct new muscle fibers, you will not see any benefit in terms of increased muscle size or strength.
Supplementing with L-lysine is thought to increase the availability of protein in the body, and particularly in the muscles during and after training (most of the muscle regeneration following a workout happens while you are sleeping), which prevents the whole muscle-building process from short-circuiting and therefore enables you to get the maximum benefit from the exercise.
L-lysine helpful for human growth
In combination with other amino acids, L-lysine also stimulates the production of human growth hormone, HGH, which is known to promote the growth of bigger, stronger muscles, and may enable athletes to train harder and longer.
Lysine has been shown in tests to reduce the damage done to the body as a result of exercise, and also to reduce the time needed to recover after a workout.
This effect has also been shown in people who have suffered injuries or illnesses and taken L-lysine in order to aid their recovery.
It is believed that this is partly due to lysine’s role in helping to stimulate collagen production, which is key to protecting cells of all kinds from unnecessary damage.
Word to its users
L-lysine is recommended as a supplement both for those suffering from or recovering from a serious illness or injury, and also to anybody who engages in moderate to intensive exercise on a regular basis.
L-lysine has no significant reported side-effects associated with its use, but you should ideally consult a doctor before beginning any course of supplements, and particularly if you experience any negative symptoms after taking a new medication or supplement