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L Lysine Supplements

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About L Lysine Supplements

Lysine is one of the essential amino acids and an important building block for skeletal muscle tissue. Rich sources of lysine are pumpkin seeds, eggs and white beans, though it is also found in abundance in protein powder. For instance, whey protein powder is made up of around 7-10% lysine by weight. Of course, an important distinction to make is the form in which the lysine is found.


The lysine in food and protein powder is found linked to other amino acids by peptide bonds, which creates a large protein molecule that must be denatured by stomach acids and digested by protein-specific enzymes, like pepsin and protease. However, with pure free-form lysine supplements there are no competing amino acids to hinder absorption, such as arginine, which allows for more lysine to be absorbed. Given that lysine powders are in free-form, there is actually zero requirement for digestion of these powders.


Lysine has many important roles to play within the body. The most common reason for prescription of this amino acid, however, is cold sores—caused by the Herpes simplex Virus Type-1. Lysine has been demonstrated to inhibit replication of this virus, which reduces the viral load and gives our immune system more opportunity to get the infection under control. Lysine is best supplemented away from food, and arginine foods are best limited during this time, such as peanuts, chickpeas and lentils. 


Lysine is needed for the synthesis of hydroxylysine, which is used for connective tissues strength and integrity. Connective tissues include tendons, collagen and ligaments. Being one of the essential amino acids, lysine is essential for muscle protein synthesis, as eight of the nine amino acids—excluding tryptophan—are required for laying down new, or repairing damaged, muscle fibers. Lysine is also used for the natural synthesis of carnitine, an important shuttler of fatty acids into the cell for energy.


Interestingly, some of the foods lowest in lysine compared to the other essential amino acids, are grains, like wheat. In fact, wheat protein and grain-based protein can be given quite a nice boost in biological value with a little bit of lysine supplementation taken with the meal. Remember, the essential amino acids work as a team, and any deficit in one can lead to poor usage of the eight others, limiting their usefulness and increased their catabolism. This becomes particularly important for vegans and vegetarians who rely on meat-alternative foods as a large part of their daily protein intake. Such foods may include vegan bacon, sausages and burger alternatives, where the main protein source is wheat protein or gluten. 


All of the essential amino acids offer vital functions for the human body, and lysine is certainly no different. Supplementation of any singular amino acid is best taken away from food or other amino acid supplements.