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  • Lysine is one of the essential amino acids that cannot be synthesized in the human body.
  • Lysine is the first limiting amino acid in proteins derived from grains.
  • Lysine has two amino groups (NH2), unlike other amino acids.
  • Cereals are often fortified with lysine to improve their nutritional value. High biologic value proteins (e.g. meat, fish, poultry, dairy) are rich sources of lysine.
  • Due to its extra amino group, lysine forms an amino-sugar complex with glucose or lactose. This process is called the Maillard reaction. This complex cannot be digested in the digestive tract, resulting in a lowered bioavailability. This reaction occurs during extensive heating or prolonged storage.
  • Vitamin C aids lysine in formation of collagen.

  • Functions

    • Lysine is used to synthesize muscle and visceral proteins.
    • Lysine-rich regions in proteins have a high affinity to receptors such as the LDL receptor.
    • Peptide hormones are initially synthesized as large, inactive prohormones, then are cleaved by proteolytic enzymes, forming the active hormone. Enzymes recognize pairs of basic residues such as lysine-arginine as a cleavage point.
    • Oral supplementation of lysine may prevent recurrence of herpes simplex infections.
    • Lysine is important in collagen and bone formation.

  • Dosage

    One to 3 g of lysine per day may be effective in inhibiting herpes simplex infections.

  • Toxicity

    Intake of lysine of up to 3 g per day appears to be safe for chronic use, even when taken with foods.1

  • Dietary Sources

    Drug-Supplement Interaction

    2 3 4

    Vitamin C aids lysine in the formation of collagen. Taking vitamin C with L-lysine may be beneficial.

    Information on the relationship between substances and disease is provided for general information, in order to convey a balanced review of the scientific literature. In many cases the relationship between a substance and a disease is tentative and additional research is needed to confirm such a relationship.

  • Research Summary

    Diet: To asses if lysine-deficient rats would alter their diet selection patterns on the basis of small changes in dietary lysine concentration, growing rats were adapted to diets in which the protein fraction was limited in lysine. Then they were given a choice between the adaptation diet containing lysine at the level of 0.25% (approximately 35% of the requirement for maximal growth) and a slightly more deficient diet. The adaptation diet allows for a slow rate of growth. Only rats adapted to the diets containing lysine below the requirement for growth selected the adaptation diet. This result indicates that lysine may act as a dietary stimulus to control diet selection.5

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