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As an essential amino acid, lysine is required for good health but cannot be produced by the body alone. It plays an important role in protein synthesis, as amino acids are the building blocks for protein within the body. Meat, dairy products and fish are good dietary sources of lysine, but supplementation might be required if your diet is deficient.
Cold sores and genital herpes, also known as the Herpes Simplex Virus, can be painful, irritating and uncomfortable. Lysine can inhibit herpes outbreaks by blocking the effects of the amino acid arginine, which helps replicate the herpes virus, according to a 2006 review in "Alternative Medicine Review." Lysine is best used to prevent outbreaks, but has not proven to be helpful in reducing the severity or duration of a cold sore once it has occurred.
Lysine, when taken with the amino acid arginine, has been shown to reduce anxiety in both animals and humans according to a 2010 review in "Nutrition Journal." Lysine helps decrease the body's cortisol levels, a hormone that may promote added feelings of anxiousness, especially if put into stressful environments.
Bone Health and Osteoporosis
A 2001 study in "Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy" found that lysine, when combined with the amino acid arginine, may help to increase collagen production and support bone building cells in rats. Lysine also helps increase calcium absorption and limits calcium excretion, supporting healthy bones and possibly decreasing the risk of osteoporosis. While there are promising animal studies regarding lysine use to support bone health in animals, further research is needed to learn its effect on humans.
Consult with your primary health care professional before deciding to supplement with L-lysine. Excess lysine consumption can lead to health complications for people with kidney disease, according to The University of Maryland Medical Center. The efficacy and safety of lysine supplements is not assured because it is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Consuming a varied, healthy diet including lean proteins should meet your lysine needs. Soybeans, eggs, nuts and legumes are all quality sources of lysine that are widely available for vegetarians. Chicken, beef, milk and yogurt are also rich sources of lysine.